Forward this email | View in web browser
Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 23 April, 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Farmers and producers are vital to all Victorian communities and play an important role during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Premier has implemented Stage 3 restrictions of non-essential activity aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Stay home. Protect our health system. Save lives.

There are only four reasons to be out in public:

  • shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
  • medical, care or compassionate needs
  • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
  • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely.

The measures include a limit on gathering to no more than two people, except for members of immediate households and for work or education and social physical distancing rules of 1.5 metres between people should also be observed outside the home.

Stage 3 measures were effective from 11.59 pm on Monday 30 March and have been extended until midnight 11 May 2020.

The agricultural supply chain is essential to maintaining the flow of food to our supermarkets and kitchen tables.

We are working closely with industry to ensure that the essential services provided by the agriculture sector continue to operate during the Stage 3 measures which have been implemented to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The situation continues to change rapidly and we urge you to regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest update:

More information including: common questions and answers; advice for animal owners, commuting and accommodating seasonal contract workers during coronavirus and farm business FAQs is available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Contacting us
contacting us

We’re continuing to serve the community but you may need to contact us in different ways.

If you can do something online then this is the best way. You can also call us 136 186 for a range of information including how best to contact us.

Agriculture Victoria office receptions across the state are now closed in order to reduce face-to-face contact between staff and members of the community. The decision is in response to the latest advice to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please consider whether the activity you are contacting us about is necessary at this time. Visit the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) advice.

Latest news
Backing agriculture businesses during coronavirus
Tractor sowing PBC March 2020

The Victorian Government is working closely with the state’s agricultural sector to ensure its crucial supply chains can continue unbroken during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes has established the Victorian Agriculture Industry Reference Group, bringing together Agriculture Victoria and industry representatives.

This has been done to share information from the Government, ensure farmers and producers have the most up to date health and business advice, as well being able to directly respond to feedback and concerns.

The group of representatives from 25 peak industry bodies are working with the Government to address the issues facing the sector.

This includes providing information about commuting and accommodating seasonal workers, along with answering frequently asked questions about how businesses can manage staff safety and the health of their workforce, and directives for people with responsibilities for animals.

Industry are aware that to slow the spread of coronavirus, it is vital that the entire agriculture supply chain adopts enhanced cleaning regimes, hygiene practices and physical distancing measures.

Many businesses have shown leadership and are stepping up to ensure agriculture businesses have continuity plans, know how to introduce strict cleaning regimes in the workplace and have processes in place to ensure work can continue should an employee have to self-isolate.

Any businesses seeking advice are urged to visit the Business Victoria website and hotline (13 22 15), with support staff trained to address specific concerns of the agriculture industry.

The frequently asked questions and the latest guidance on commuting and accommodating seasonal and contract workers during the coronavirus can be found at

For the latest general information and advice on coronavirus, visit

Support for Victorian farmers continues
take care with chemicals in the backyard

Agriculture Victoria remains available to assist Victorian farmers.

We want to reassure farmers, particularly those impacted by bushfires and drought, that we will continue to provide support services to you and your farming business. However, the way we are doing this during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed.

What are we doing differently?

We are moving from our usual face-to-face client contact to other alternatives. This means we might call you on the phone, send you information via post or email, invite you to a video or teleconference, or even a webinar.

Our technical support remains available to help landholders affected by fires and drought in East and Central Gippsland, North East, Millewa and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District. 

Farmers can call us to access information tailored specifically to their needs on a range of topics including:

  • feed planning and pasture recovery
  • supplying feed and water to livestock
  • land and farm water management
  • general technical information
  • other assistance available and grants programs.

For support in bushfire affected areas contact our Agriculture Recovery Managers:

  • Gippsland – Keren Walker on (03) 5159 5118
  • North East – Kylie Macreadie on 0427 052 352

For support in drought affected areas contact our Dry Seasonal Conditions Coordinators:

  • Millewa – Sue McConnell on 0418 572 087
  • Northern – Mick Bretherton on 0428 346 209
  • Central and East Gippsland – Nick Dudley on 0428 562 139.

Or email us at

Farmers can also continue to call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 and access the website anytime at .  

There are many other agencies providing assistance too – this includes the Rural Financial Counselling Service:

  • in Gippsland call 1300 834 775
  • in the North East call 1300 834 775.

Rural Finance is administering many grants programs for drought and bushfire impacted farmers. Give them a call on 1800 260 425 or access online anytime at

The Dedicated Dairy Support Program is available to dairy farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District who are considering structural or significant changes to their business.

Decisions could include leaving the industry, scaling back (or up), family succession or transitions to other enterprises.
For more information go to, call 1300 834 775 or email

Bushfire Recovery Victoria is also a great service to connect you with recovery services and information from the whole of the Victorian Government. Call them on 1800 560 760 or visit at

Autumn feed budgeting: an integral part of farm planning
whole farm planning webinar

Do you find yourself asking: How long should I supplementary feed animals? What is the feed value of my autumn pasture? What are my animals’ nutritional requirements for their stage of gestation or lactation? What are the increased nutritional requirements for weaner management?

The answers to these questions and more will be provided during an interactive webinar / phone seminar on feed budgeting being delivered by Agriculture Victoria Veterinary Officer Dr Cathy Bunter next month.

Dr Bunter has over 28 years’ experience working in mixed veterinary practices across Australia,  including five years teaching students as a lecturer in animal nutrition, health and production at Longerenong Agricultural College.

Dr Bunter said developing an accurate feed budget, incorporating the introduction of early-season pasture to an animal’s diet, was critical to ensuring that animal nutritional needs and animal growth rate goals are met.

“Efficient supplementary feeding is key to ensuring profitability, as well as pasture persistence,” she said.

This event will assist producers to assess if they have adequate feed-on-offer and to understand the variable properties of early-season growth.

“Using feed tests and interpreting the results into real-time animal nutritional requirements confidently is an important skill,” Dr Bunter said.

“We will take a ‘step-by-step’ approach to navigating this through the beginning of the season.”

This event is delivered by Agriculture Victoria with funding through the Victorian Government’s 2019-20 drought support program.

The ‘Autumn feed budgeting’ webinar/phone seminar, will be held at 7.30 pm on 6 May. 

Register online at

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall at or 0409 841 492.

Game on for 2021 with one-year hunting licence extension
very fast break video

Victoria’s 50,000-plus recreational game hunters will be compensated for lost hunting opportunities with the Victorian Government set to extend all current game licences by one year.

In recognition of the unprecedented impact on Victoria’s game hunters caused by mandatory physical distancing measures, the expiry date of all current game licences administered by the Game Management Authority will be extended by 12 months, allowing hunters to get full value of their one- or three-year licence fee.

Health directives and restrictions as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have already impacted game hunting seasons for hog and sambar deer, stubble quail and gamebirds.

In response to public health advice, the GMA has also postponed all waterfowl identification tests and hound hunting tests until further notice. Anyone who has already booked a test will have their booking fee refunded.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has advised that to help slow the spread of coronavirus, people must not leave their property to go hunting.

Current State of Emergency measures to slow the spread of coronavirus remain in place until 11 May.

Duck hunting season opens on 2 May. From that time, duck hunting other than on a property that you live on will not be able to be conducted until relevant restrictions are lifted.

Panic grasses can be deadly for lambs
Panic grass

By Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer

One of the common perennial grasses in pastures and crop stubbles that would have responded rapidly to the recent rains are the panic grasses.

Panic grasses are also commonly known as fairy grass, witch grass and hairy panic.

These grasses can cause photosensitisation and death when ingested, particularly in lambs.

The young, rapidly growing grasses contain steroidal saponins, which when eaten can form crystals in the liver, damaging the liver cells and obstructing the outflow of bile.

The breakdown products of chlorophyll, which is found in green grass, are then no longer cleared by the liver and cause damage to skin tissues when exposed to light.

So, the thin skinned, wool-free parts of the sheep which are exposed to sunlight get damaged and show signs like severe sunburn. Typically affected areas are the ears, eyelids, nose, lips and vulva.

Affected lambs will seek shade and be reluctant to graze.

The liver damage may lead to jaundice, and with the swelling caused by photosensitisation the condition is sometimes known as ‘yellow bighead’.

This liver damage can kill the lambs before photosensitisation develops.

The only treatment is to remove affected stock from the toxic pastures and provide them access to shade.

If this happens promptly, affected stock can recover completely, as the liver has a remarkable ability to heal itself.

However, some livers may never recover totally, and this leads to ongoing poor metabolic processing of food consumed.  So, food conversion efficiency will be poor, and the animals may never thrive.

The best prevention is to avoid grazing risky paddocks.

If this is not possible, do not to put hungry sheep straight out onto risky pastures but give them a good feed of hay first, graze older sheep as they have better developed rumens and are more resistant to the effects of the toxin, and check the sheep twice daily until you are confident that they have no ill effects.

For further advice please contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer.

Climate webinars
seasonal climate update webinars

Recordings of our recent climate webinars are now available.

To hear Seasonal Risk Agronomist Dale Grey's update on seasonal climate drivers and outlooks, click the link here and enter the recording password - VICfastbreak1.  

To hear Geoff Steendam (DELWP) discuss the impacts of climate on water supplies and availability, and the risk to Victorian water resources, click the link here and enter the recording password - climate&water.

 Each webinar is approximately 50–60 mins in duration.

Visit our climate webinar page on the Agriculture Victoria website for more information.

New tool launched to help inform growers’ crop variety choice

Grain growers and advisers across Australia are being provided with a suite of unique new resources to inform crop variety decision making.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has launched its inaugural series of National Variety Trials (NVT) Harvest Reports which provide the very latest independent varietal information on yield, quality and disease ratings from the extensive NVT program.

GRDC NVT Senior Manager Sean Coffey, said the 16 regional Harvest Reports contain the past five years of results (including 2019) for every NVT trial across Australia, with the information presented at a local site level to support grower and adviser decision making on variety selection.

“The reports are an exciting new addition to the stable of NVT resources, offering growers and advisers another layer of important information to help them with crop variety choice,” Mr Coffey said.

“We hope these publications will be seen as useful decision support tools, underpinning selection of varieties that offer the best fit for individual farming systems and growing environments.”

The reports are designed to complement – not replace – the GRDC-supported state-based Sowing Guides, which are published prior to harvest.

The 16 regional Harvest Reports are available at:

Southern reports cover Eyre Peninsula South Australia; Mid North and Yorke Peninsula SA; Mallee SA and Victoria; Western Victoria, Lower South-East SA and Tasmania; Northern Victoria; and Wimmera Victoria and Upper South-East SA.

The NVT program evaluates more than 550 near-release or released varieties each year, providing independent, consistent, timely and robust comparative data on yield performance, quality and disease resistance ratings of commercially available grain varieties.

“NVT represents a huge logistical undertaking, evaluating varieties for the 10 major crop types – wheat, barley, canola, chickpea, faba bean, field pea, lentil, lupin, oat and sorghum – within trials across the country,” Mr Coffey said.

“Conducted to a set of predetermined protocols, trials are sown and managed to reflect local best practice, such as sowing time, fertiliser application, weed management, pest and disease control and fungicide application.”

The largest co-ordinated field trial network of its kind in the world, NVT is a 100 per cent GRDC investment that is fully administered by the GRDC on behalf of Australian grain growers and the Australian Government.

Mr Coffey said single site results from successful trials in 2019 were finalised earlier this year and this data has been fed into multi-year, multi-environment trial (MET) variety performance analysis.

“These multi-year, rolling datasets for all crops and growing regions provide the most valuable information to support decision making around what to sow each year.

“The new Harvest Reports feature the very latest information from the 2019 harvest that has been built into the rolling datasets.”

Results and analysis from the trials harvested in 2019 across the nation can also be viewed at

To support growers and advisers, the GRDC has produced instructional videos on ‘how to interpret NVT data (long-term yield results) using the NVT website’ and ‘how to navigate NVT’s website’. The videos can be viewed via the GRDC’s YouTube channel.

Mr Coffey said planning for the NVT program for 2020 is well underway, with the number of trials across the nation expected to be around 650.

In the meantime, growers and advisers are encouraged to keep an eye on their email inbox, as the GRDC is distributing electronic links to the new Harvest Reports as they are published.

To ensure they are receiving the latest NVT information from their regions, growers and advisers can nominate their Harvest Report preferences via the GRDC subscription centre.

PhD research fellowships on offer
sheep notes

In partnership with the University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria is offering 32 PhD research fellowships in the grains, dairy and horticulture industries.

The fellowships will be based across Victoria at the department’s world-renowned research centres. Successful candidates will be rewarded with a $33,000 per annum scholarship, access to state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for professional development and overseas travel.

To find out more visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Young farmer business network
young farmer business network

Young Farmers of Victoria – this is your network to talk about farm business management with other like-minded young farmers through social media, articles, online and face to face forums.

Click here to join and learn more about the Young Farmer Business Network Facebook group.

What's on
Whole farm planning webinar/phone seminar – repeated next week

Date: Monday 27 April

Time: 1 pm

Location: online delivery through Webex

Register online here


Due to the technical difficulties experienced by some people, a repeat session will be held this Monday (27 April).

This introductory session to whole farm planning will provide you with an understanding of the principles and process involved in developing a whole farm plan.

Presenter: Clem Sturmfels, Land Management Extension Officer, Ararat

There is no need to register for this webinar, but please click the link and log in 5-10 minutes before the starting time.

For further information or assistance in registering, please contact Tess McDougall on 0409 841 492 or at

Autumn feed budgeting webinar/phone seminar – 6 May

Date: Wednesday 6 May

Time: 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Register online here


Join us for in interactive webinar on incorporating early pasture into your feed budgets.

Presented by Dr Catherine Bunter, Agriculture Victoria District Veterinary Officer, Ararat.

Topics covered:

  • The value of feed onhand in paddocks
  • Animal requirements
  • Step by step approach to feed budgeting
  • Other nutritional considerations.

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall via email at or 0409 841 492.

Autumn grazing management webinar/phone seminar – 13 May

Date: Wednesday 13 May

Time: 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Register online here


Join us for in interactive webinar on autumn grazing management.

Presented by Fiona Baker, Agriculture Victoria Beef Extension Officer, Ellinbank.

Topics covered:

  • How do I determine if my pastures are ready for grazing?
  • How much rest should pastures be given?
  • What’s the best grazing strategy to aim for?
  • How long can I leave stock in the paddock for?

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall via email at or 0409 841 492.

Planning and designing a five-star water supply – 20 May

Date: Wednesday 20 May

Time: 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Register online here


Join us for in interactive webinar on autumn grazing management.

Presented by Clem Sturmfels, Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension officer, Ararat.

Topics covered:

  • Planning for the future
  • Stock water requirements
  • Climate impacts
  • Basic design

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall via email at or 0409 841 492.

Regional climate update webinars

Goulburn Murray Irrigation District
Tuesday 12 May, 
12 pm – 1 pm
Register or join via this link.

North East Victoria
Wednesday 13 May, 
12 pm – 1 pm
Register or join via this link.

South West Victoria
Thursday 14 May, 
12 pm – 1 pm
Register or join via this link.


Want to know more about the climate drivers for your region, how climate forecasts relate to the weather you see on farm and what the current forecast is for your region?

Agriculture Victoria Seasonal Risk Agronomist Dale Grey will take participants through:

  • The climate drivers which affect your region
  • How models have performed for some recent
  • climate events
  • The current regional forecast.

Dale has been working in seasonal climate risk for over 14 years. Over this time he has built a national profile for expertise in explaining climate drivers and climatic model predictions, including rainfall and temperature, for the agriculture sector.

If you need help registering or would like more information please contact Sarah Clack, Agriculture Victoria, on 0417 316 345 or email

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support call 136 186 or visit

Subscribe to Grampians Ag News

Enjoying the Grampians Ag News? Then why not forward to a friend or subscribe yourself.

It's easy – simply click this link.

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

Don't forget to check out Agriculture Victoria's social media sites for up-to-date information and news.



'Like' our Agriculture Victoria Facebook page.


Follow us on Twitter @VicGovAg


Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


Privacy | Email:


If you would like to subscribe, visit

This newsletter is distributed by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.