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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 13 February, 2020
In this edition:
Breaking up with brome grass

Wimmera growers will have the chance to hear from a leading expert about managing brome grass during a series of forums being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria this March.

Plant Science Consulting’s Sam Kleemann will speak at Murtoa, Noradjuha and Dimboola, to help growers develop system-based tactics to tackle the weed.

Brome grass is the third biggest grass weed problem for grain growers in southeast Australia.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer, Heather Drendel, said that the level of grass weed infestation in Wimmera crops increased in 2019, with brome grass becoming more prevalent.

“It has been a challenge for growers,” she said.

“The weed is evolving to no-till farming and the dry seasons have exacerbated the problem.”

Ms Drendel said growers were adapting to a drying climate by sowing crops earlier, but this makes weed control a bigger challenge, as they rely more heavily on in-crop weed control.

Dr Kleemann will discuss how growers can reduce the seedbank of brome grass to manageable levels within three years by including break crops and different control tactics.

“Brome grass has developed increased seed dormancy in cropped paddocks,” he said.

“Seeds with greater dormancy can escape pre-sowing weed control tactics such as knockdown herbicides.”

Dr Kleemann said light can also inhibit brome grass seed germination.

“This allows seeds to remain ungerminated on the soil surface until after sowing and it prevents seedlings from being killed before sowing,” he said.

“This also helps explain why brome grass has proliferated in no-till cropping systems.”

Dr Kleemann’s research while working for Adelaide University, with support from the GRDC, showed it was possible to significantly reduce brome grass levels with combinations of pre and post-sowing herbicides and seed-set control tactics using certain crop rotations.

The Wimmera workshops will be presented by Agriculture Victoria and Wimmera Farming Network with support from Wimmera Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

The aim of the workshops, and the partner-based approach, is to increase awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of the soil, biodiversity and vegetation in the Wimmera.

Workshops will be held at the following locations:

  • Murtoa & District Neighbourhood House, Monday 16 March, 4.30 to 7 pm, followed by light snacks
  • Noradjuha Memorial Hall, Tuesday 17 March, 8.30 to 11:30 am, morning tea included
  • Dimboola Rowing Clubrooms, Tuesday 17 March, 1 to 3:30 pm, lunch included.

To register or for more information, go to: or phone Heather Drendel, 0427 868 705.

Promising fruit fly trap to be tested on grapes

Agriculture Victoria scientists are set to trial a new trapping strategy in Victorian vineyards, in a bid to control a major horticulture pest.

The two-year research project, funded by Agriculture Victoria and Hort Innovation, will test the effectiveness of an attract-and-kill trapping strategy for managing Queensland fruit fly in table grape vineyards.

The project builds on current research that has developed a new trap targeting mating females Queensland fruit fly, and is showing considerable promise in stone fruit, pome fruit and citrus orchards.

Queensland fruit fly populations have escalated in recent years in Sunraysia – Victoria’s major table grape-growing region – presenting a major and growing challenge to the industry in terms of productivity and maintaining access to export markets.

The insect causes significant damage to fruit crops by stinging fruit (laying eggs) and infecting them with larvae.

The trap, developed by Agriculture Victoria scientists, looks and smells like ripe fruit, tricking the female flies into landing on a sticky surface.

Agriculture Victoria research project lead, Dr Paul Cunningham, said the project aims to help growers develop a strategy to effectively manage Queensland fruit fly in table grapes.

“We see this trap as a valuable tool in an integrated pest management strategy to help reduce Queensland fruit fly populations across all Victoria’s fruit industries,” Dr Cunningham said.

“This will help protect Victoria’s table grape industry by maintaining production and access to domestic and international markets.”

The project will improve grower and industry knowledge of Queensland fruit fly management in table grapes through the delivery of best practice guidelines, workshops and on-farm trials.

“This trial will fill a crucial knowledge gap in the control of Queensland fruit fly in table grapes,” he said.

“If successful, adoption and integration of a mass trapping strategy using this trap could be seen within three to five years.”
Australian Table Grape Association CEO Jeff Scott welcomed the trial.

“Any new technology in mitigating fruit fly would be welcomed by all horticulture industries, but particularly in Sunraysia where numbers are so high,” Mr Scott said.

The trap was developed by Agriculture Victoria in collaboration with Hort Innovation and the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

Latest climate webinar will keep you informed

What do you know about the Bureau of Meteorology's new regional climate guides?

The next presentation in the climate webinar series for 2020 will look inside the regional project, on Monday 24 February at 12 pm.

The new regional climate guides aim to help farmers understand and manage their climate risk by providing regionally focused climate and weather summaries that detail historical observations and trends using information available from local Bureau of Meteorology weather stations.

To register go to

For more information and to subscribe to stay up-to-date with these upcoming climate webinars visit: or contact Heather Field on 5336 6607 or

New IoT network to benefit farmers looking to invest in agtech

To improve farmers’ access to reliable network coverage, Agriculture Victoria is partnering with the National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo) to deliver Internet of Things (IoT) network connectivity to farmers around Birchip.

The new long-range network (LoRaWAN) being rolled-out as part of Victoria’s On-Farm IoT Trial, will allow for thousands of sensors to be securely connected to the internet, providing farmers with real-time data to improve their on-farm productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

New network connectivity will not only benefit farmers taking part in the trial but will also provide broader opportunities for digital uptake in communities in the other trial regions of Maffra, Serpentine and Tatura.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said the On-Farm IoT Trial had the potential to revolutionise farm businesses, putting Victorian farmers at the forefront of agricultural innovation.

“We’re excited to work with NNNCo to roll this exciting technology out to keep our farmers connected and help them work smarter – not harder,” Ms Symes said.

CEO of NNNCo Rob Zagarella said the company’s network and data platform roll-out was a commitment to every farmer in the trial regions to provide the coverage they needed to better manage and run their operations.

“Farmers now have a broad choice of devices and applications from the growing global IoT ecosystem,” Mr Zagarella said.

“This includes irrigation management and control, and real-time monitoring of soil health, rainfall, cattle movement, farm assets, worker safety, and water tank levels so that they can proactively respond to the needs of the farm,” he said. 

To find out more about the On-Farm IoT Trial visit agriculture visit

Looking after your best work-mate - dogs on utes

Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer

There is no argument that working dogs are an enormous asset to farmers and it stands to reason, if your dog travels on the back of your ute, you need to take extra care to avoid exposing it to heat stress on hot days.

While it is legal to allow appropriately restrained dogs to travel on the back of utes, dogs left in the sun for long periods can quickly dehydrate or even die from heat stress.

Adequate shelter, for example a fixed canopy, needs to be provided to protect tethered dogs from extreme temperatures.

A lot of utes and tray backs these days are made of metal and will heat up quickly and could easily burn dogs’ paws. It is now a requirement to ensure metal floors in utes are covered on a hot day.

Ensure dogs kept in cages have adequate ventilation, particularly when the vehicle is not moving, and ensure all dogs are given regular access to cool water.

Victoria’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act requires dogs travelling in the back of utes, trailers or open tray trucks to be tethered or caged in a manner that prevents them from falling from the vehicle. The only exemption is when dogs are actively working livestock.

The tether should only be long enough to permit the dog to stand, lie down and move about but not so long that it could potentially let the dog fall off the vehicle and be dragged or strangled.

Tethering dogs should always be regarded as a temporary, short term method of restraint.

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

Victoria's 2020 Rural Women's finalists announced

Four Victorian women have been nominated for the 2020 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award to be announced in March in recognition of their innovative ideas to support Australia’s rural and regional communities.

The award encourages Australian women to develop their skills to benefit their industries and communities, including Victoria’s $14.9 billion agriculture sector.

This year’s finalists include:

  • Kerryn Wildenburg from Kyneton, who wants to create a permaculture ‘Food Forest’ to provide vulnerable community members with a place where they can learn to grow and cook nutritious food. Kerryn’s project will also make a valuable contribution to the community food bank.
  • Jackie Elliott from Byaduk, who wants to create a toolkit for other regional communities to host their own International Rural Women’s Day celebrations to connect rural women and address isolation. Jackie hosted a very successful one-day event in Western Victoria in October 2019, providing valuable networking and development opportunities for women in her region.
  • Katrina van Eyk from Pyramid Hill, who wants to expand on an affordable eight-week summer Learn-to-Swim program in regional communities that makes the most of under-utilised community pools and boosts physical and mental health.
  • Kelly Barnes from Dunkeld, who wants to establish a working dog training school that delivers practical skills but also aims to increase resilience and connectedness in rural communities.

The Victorian winner will be announced at a ceremony on 24 March and will receive $10,000 to implement her project. The national winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Canberra on 15 September.

In addition to the Victorian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, the Victorian Government is supporting Victorian women in agriculture with the Rural Women’s Network, working with rural women’s groups and individuals to encourage women to have a more active voice in government and community decision-making.

For more information about the award, visit

Water hyacinth - don't buy, sell or give it away

Water hyacinth is a highly invasive weed that is choking lakes, rivers and water ways around the world and Agriculture Victoria is encouraging Victorians to report it to prevent it from taking hold in Victoria.

Water hyacinth may look pretty but has a well-deserved reputation for being the world’s worst water weed.

An advertising campaign, ’Water hyacinth – don’t buy, sell or give it away’, targets the illegal buying or selling of the State prohibited weed - the highest category of declared noxious weeds in Victoria.

The campaign will run on social media and online advertising sites in English, Mandarin, Khmer and Vietnamese.

Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Manager – High Risk Invasive Plants, Angela Constantine said water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), was very harmful in aquatic environments.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth could rapidly affect water quality, native aquatic plants and fish, and have an impact on recreational activities such as fishing and boating.

“We are asking people, if they see water hyacinth, to contact Agriculture Victoria and we will remove it before it can spread further,” Ms Constantine said.

It is illegal to buy, sell, display, propagate or transport State prohibited weeds.

Ms Constantine said in recent years Agriculture Victoria had prosecuted people for selling water hyacinth on Facebook and Gumtree.

“It’s important to know what you are buying, selling, or giving away,” she said.

Last financial year, Agriculture Victoria detected 21 cases of water hyacinth being traded online, and nine of these were in Victoria.

Ms Constantine said water hyacinth was easier to recognise during summer when it was flowering.

“Water hyacinth can be identified by its distinctive mauve flower and bulbous spongy stems,” Ms Constantine said.

“It is often kept for its very attractive flower, but owners may be unaware of the profound threat it poses.

“In just one season, a single plant can produce more than 3000 seeds that can survive for more than 20 years.”

If you see or have any water hyacinth, or any other State prohibited weed, report it to the Agriculture Victoria Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or

Expressions of Interest: Rural Minds Training

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) can now deliver Rural Minds training to your community!

Rural Minds is a comprehensive program designed for people living and working in rural Australia by people living and working in rural Australia.

We are currently seeking expressions of interest for anyone who would like to attend a Rural Minds mental health and suicide prevention workshop.

Rural Minds training aims to:

  • Improve your awareness and understanding of mental health issues
  • Make the connection between mental health and personal safety
  • Give you the confidence, strategies and pathways to support your mental health and that of your family and friends.

Rural Minds Training options:

Rural Minds Community Workshop: This three to four-hour workshop combines practical, culturally relevant information about risk factors to mental health, signs and symptoms of mental health problems, advice about self-help and coping strategies where and how to seek support via local referral pathways.

Rural Minds Briefing: This one to two-hour workshop builds knowledge, understanding and confidence in participants about the prevention of mental illness and suicide. The briefing provides opportunities to identify and promote local pathways to support and clinical care.

A minimum of eight attendees are required to run these workshops in your community. Participants are required to pay a small fee of $15 to cover the costs of materials provided in the session.

If you are interested in attending/running one of these workshops in your community, please contact Molly Stilo at or call on (03) 8412 0430.

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
ABC of herbicide resistance – 17 and 18 February
Event details

Warracknabeal – Monday 17 February, 4.30 to 7 pm

Nhill – Tuesday 18 February, 9 to 11 am

Kaniva – Tuesday 18 February, 1.30 to 3.30 pm

Cost: Free


Growers and advisers are invited to join with Dr Peter Boutsalis and learn the ‘ABC’ of herbicide resistance during a series of coordinated workshops across the Wimmera.

Dr Peter Boutsalis has been involved in herbicide
resistance research for 30 years, both internationally and in Australia.

He is currently employed as a research scientist with the University of Adelaide, working predominantly on a GRDC project monitoring herbicide resistance in South Australia and Victoria.

Dr Boutsalis also operates Plant Science Consulting, an Adelaide-based company specialising in commercial herbicide resistance testing and trialling new mode of action herbicides.


  • Alphabet resistance in the Wimmera
  • Wimmera resistance survey results
  • Testing for resistance
  • Avoiding and addressing herbicide resistance

Registration is essential at: https://abcofherbicideresistanceinthewimmera.eventbrite.

Enquiries to Heather Drendel, Agriculture Victoria, or phone 0427 868 705.

Stock containment area field day – 18 February
Event details

Where – 'The Ranch', 4686 Glenelg Hwy, Glenthompson

When – Tuesday 18 February, 9.30 am to
1 pm

RSVP: by Friday 14 February


Agriculture Victoria is hosting a field day for farmers to share information on establishing and managing a stock containment area for sheep.

This field day will include presentations from Glenthompson farmers Russell and Fiona Mitchell, District Veterinary Officer Cathy Bunter and Agriculture Victoria Extension Officer Neil James.


  • Siting and design of stock containment areas
  • Feeding and nutrition of sheep in
  • Producer’s first-hand experience - design
    and use of stock containment areas
  • Benefits and uses of stock containment
    areas (including holding stock after fire,
    autumn saving of pastures, drought feeding,
    weaning, biosecurity and quarantine).

Register online by Friday 14 February at:
 or contact Nerissa Lovric, Agriculture Victoria on 0475 986 314 or email

Agriculture Victoria 2020 climate webinar series - 24 February
Next webinar

Date: Monday 24 February

Time: 12 – 1 pm

Presenter: Dr Luke Shelley, Bureau of Meteorology

Click here to register online.


Inside the Bureau's Climate Guides Project

The purpose of the Climate Guides is to help farmers understand and manage their climate risk, by providing regionally focused climate and weather summaries that detail historical observational information available from Bureau of Meteorology weather stations.

Agriculture Victoria have an exciting program of climate webinars for 2020. Subscribe to notifications to ensure you don’t miss out.

Agriculture Victoria’s 2020 lunchtime climate webinar series will give participants the opportunity to hear the latest science, insights and innovation from a range of expert speakers.

While the team are busy planning the program, you can stay up-to-date by subscribing to their electronic notifications.

So far, speakers include:

  • Luke Shelley, from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), who will discuss BoM’s new Local Climate Guides project.
  • Andrew Watkins, Climatologist also from BoM, will discuss the new BoM seasonal forecast products and new multi-week and seasonal outlooks.
  • John Clarke, from CSIRO, will share the new Victorian Climate Change Projections.
  • Cam Nicholson from Nicon Rural Services will share valuable insights on farm decision making.
  • Geoff Steendam, Senior Manager Hydrology and Climate Science, DELWP will discuss the Victorian Water and Climate Initiative and findings.
  • Agbyte’s Leighton Wilksch will walk attendees through farm weather stations and examples of how they are being used to provide value for farmers.

Speakers from Agriculture Victoria:

  • Climate Specialist, Graeme Anderson will talk about weather forecasts, seasonal outlooks and climate change projections and what they can and can’t do.
  • Senior Irrigation Officer, Rob O’Connor, will discuss our irrigation products and services and how using BoM evapotranspiration data can assist determine plant irrigation requirements.
  • Seasonal Risk Agronomist, Dale Grey will present the Break Seasonal Forecast updates, including both autumn, winter and spring outlooks.

For more information and to subscribe to stay up-to-date with these upcoming climate webinars visit: or contact Heather Field on 5336 6607 or

GRDC Grains Research Update – 26 February

The GRDC Grains Research Update events are for agronomists, consultants, researchers and growers to see and discuss the latest in research and to network with their peers about how to apply new and relevant information to the latest farming systems.

When: Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February 2020

Where: Ulumbarra Theatre, 10 Gaol Road, Bendigo

Contact: Matt McCarthy,, 03 5441 6176.

Details about this year's event, including the speakers and topics being covered, can be found at:

Wimmera Machinery Field Days - 3-5 March

Agriculture Victoria will be exhibiting once again at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days.

For information on animal health, grains, biosecurity and much more find us in the Agri Marquee.

March 3 to 5 at Longerenong Events Centre.

Information at:

Best practice predator management webinar - 5 March

A 'Best Practice' predator management webinar will be held on Thursday, March 5 from 7.30 pm to 9 pm.

Topics covered:

  • Overview of fox and wild dog ecology
  • Impact of predators on lambing percentages and farm business
  • Applying best practice fox and wild dog baiting techniques on farm
  • Using Canid Pest Ejectors – the ‘new control tools on the block’
  • Working dog safety and baiting
  • Using PestSmart and Feral Scan applications for the management of vertebrate pests

To register click here or for more information about managing a livestock enterprise, call Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit the Agriculture Victoria website at

Brome grass management workshops – 16 and 17 March
Event details

Murtoa & District Neighbourhood House – Monday 16 March, 4.30 to 7 pm

Noradjuha Memorial Hall – Tuesday 17 March, 8.30 to 11:30 am

Dimboola Rowing Clubrooms – Tuesday 17 March – 1 to 3:30 pm


Wimmera growers will have the chance to hear from a leading expert about managing brome grass during a series of forums being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria this March.

Plant Science Consulting’s Sam Kleemann will speak at Murtoa, Noradjuha and Dimboola, to help growers develop system-based tactics to tackle the weed.


  • Identification of brome grass species
  • Brome grass resistance and management
  • Tillage system pre-emergent
  • Resistance testing
  • Q and A discussion.

To register or for more information, go to: or phone Heather Drendel, 0427 868 705.

NLIS database management workshops – 25 and 31 March
Local workshops

Ararat Shire Hall – 25 March, Barkly Street, Ararat

Grains Innovation Park, Horsham – 31 March, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham


Topics include:

  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database - practical exercise. Computers will be provided on the day or you can bring along your own laptop
  • Management of livestock movements onto your property
  • Property to Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.
  • Sessions will run for up to 5.5 hours, with light meal and refreshment provided.

Numbers are limited to allow for a hands-on practical session. please register early at

If you have any problems with registering online please call 03 5761 1647.

Birchip Cropping Group Trials Review - on tomorrow

Birchip Cropping Group will host it's annual Trials Review Day at the Birchip Leisure Centre tomorrow.

Among the presenters will be Agriculture Victoria Climate Agronomist Dale Boyd who will give a soil moisture update.

Details at:

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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.



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Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


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