Forward this email | View in web browser
Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 19 December, 2019

Welcome to the final edition of Grampians Ag News for 2019.

Wishing all our readers a happy harvest, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2020. Hopefully the new year will bring us a bit more rain!

Grampians Ag News will return to your inbox on January 30. 

All the best,

Justine xx

In this edition:
Snails and slugs back in the spotlight

Wimmera grain growers will have an opportunity to learn the most effective tactics to tackle snails and slugs at one of three free workshops delivered by Agriculture Victoria in February.

Independent snail and slug management consultant, Dr Michael Nash, will deliver the two-hour workshops at Goroke, Noradjuha and Lubeck in response to enquiries from farmers looking for cost-effective strategies to manage these pests.

Participants will learn how to identify important pest snail species and, in higher rainfall areas, identify the two major slug species.

The workshops will also cover the life cycles of these pests, their impact on market access, the most effective baits and recent research findings.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer, Heather Drendel, said Dr Nash will share with growers a range of management tactics, to avoid having to burn stubble.

Dr Nash said he was keen to help growers explore how an integrated approach can be used to manage snails and slugs.

“I will present the latest research results and talk to growers about how the findings can be applied in the field to get the most cost-effective control,” he said.

Growers will also be able to ask questions or raise issues specific to their soil type.

The workshops are supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Wal Wal-Lubeck Landcare group is supporting the Lubeck event.

The workshops will be held at:

  • Goroke Bowling Club Rooms, Tuesday 4 February, 5 pm to 7 pm
  • Noradjuha Memorial Hall, corner Noradjuha-Tooan East Road and Natimuk-Hamilton Road, 5 February, 9 am – 11 am
  • Lubeck Memorial Hall, 12 Wal Wal Road, Wednesday 5 February, 2pm – 4 pm.

Registration is essential. For more information or to register, please go to: or contact Heather Drendel, Agriculture Victoria, on 0427 868 705.

Chemical users BeeConnected about pollinator safety

Agriculture Victoria is encouraging chemical users to actively engage in BeeConnected.

BeeConnected is a national databse and app that connects registered beekeepers with registered farmers and contractors, enabling two way communication on the location of hives and crop protection activities.

“It’s one of a number of tools available to chemical users to help them follow the highest possible safety standards for the benefit of consumers, the environment and especially managing any risks to pollinators,” Agriculture Victoria Statewide Specialist Chemicals Steven Field said.

Mr Field said the timing of chemical use can sometimes coincide with when bees are actively foraging for pollen and nectar, particularly in the spring and summer months.

“The risk of chemical use to pollinators is shared between the chemical user and the bee keeper. Chemical users, including aerial operators and ground-based sprayers, have a responsibility to conduct an on-ground inspection of paddocks to determine whether there are bees foraging on flowering plants, or bees in flight before applying chemicals,” Mr Field said.

He said commercial and hobby beekeepers should register their hives on BeeConnected, to enable chemical users to easily identify and notify beekeepers when and where they are going to be spraying.

“Chemical users must read and understand the product label, paying specific attention to DO NOT statements that appear under the Protection of Livestock section of a chemical label. 

“These DO NOT statements are enforceable and constitute an offence* if they are disregarded.

“Spraying early in the morning when bees are less active or spraying on cooler days when bees are less likely to be flying and foraging are further strategies chemical users can adopt.”

Mr Field said pollination from honey bees was a critical element of agricultural and horticultural production in Australia, increasing yields and seed production for growers of a variety of different commodities.

“Cooperation between chemical users and beekeepers is critical for the success of industries and survival of bee populations,” he said.

The BeeConnected database can be found at

For more information, visit, or call 136 186.

*see Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992

Beekeeper pleads guilty to bringing in diseased hives

Father and son beekeepers from New South Wales have each been placed on 12 month adjourned undertakings with special conditions to pay a total of $5,000 to the Court Fund for bringing diseased bees and incorrectly marked beehives into Victoria.

The two men, who appeared in Robinvale Magistrates’ Court on 17 December, pleaded guilty to several offences under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

The father pleaded guilty to causing, permitting or allowing diseased livestock or livestock products to be brought into Victoria, while the son pleaded guilty to exposing hives infected with disease and being a registered beekeeper who possessed hives not marked or banded with his registered brand.

The court heard that in July 2018 the father, who is a 74-year-old beekeeper from New South Wales, signed a certificate declaring that hives he intended to bring into Victoria for almond pollination activities were free of the bee disease, American Foulbrood (AFB).

Once in Victoria, the hives were inspected by Agriculture Victoria Authorised Officers who determined that of the 396 hives inspected, 84 were showing symptoms of AFB. Of the 84 hives, 26 were classed as ‘dead-out’, meaning the disease is so far advanced that there are no live bees left in the hive.

The hives had also been left exposed by the beekeeper’s 46 year old son, also from New South Wales, allowing healthy bees from other colonies to access the diseased materials.

Diseased and dead-out hives create targets for ‘robber bees’, whereby bees from neighbouring healthy hives can ‘rob’ honey from the weak hives and in doing so, can carry AFB spores back to their own hives, spreading the disease to other hives.

Many of the hives were also marked with inaccurate brands or were not branded at all. Branding is a legislative requirement in all Australian states and territories to ensure tracability in the event of a disease outbreak especially exotic bee pests such as Varroa.

Agriculture Victoria Senior Apiary Officer, Joe Riordan, said that all beekeepers were responsible for complying with the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 to assist with maintaining biosecurity and controlling the spread of bee diseases.

“Interstate beekeepers bringing hives into Victoria must ensure that their hives are free of AFB prior to transportation and should be aware that their hives may be checked by Victorian apiary officers once here” he said.

“If you suspect that you have AFB in your hives, you must notify an apiary officer without delay and take immediate steps to minimise the risk of spread of AFB to healthy hives.”

Find out more about beekeeping and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 visit the Agriculture Victoria website

Be alert for blue-green algae in farm water supplies

The current seasonal conditions remain standard for blue-green algae to thrive in farm water supplies.

Victoria’s Acting Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Cameron Bell, said livestock owners need to remain alert – blue-green algae poisoning can result in poisoning of livestock, including pets.

“As there is no specific treatment for blue-green algae poisoning, producers should check farm water supplies daily for blooms, as this remains the most effective way of preventing stock deaths.

“Blue-green algal blooms typically appear as surface scum that looks like a suspension of green paint or curdled green milk, often with an earthy smell. However, the colour may range from pale green to dark brown,” Dr Bell said.

Deaths can occur when stock drink toxins produced by the blue-green algae, often when it is concentrated on the down-wind side of a water supply and has formed a dense, surface scum.

Animals that have consumed blue-green algal toxin may appear ill very rapidly, develop a staggery gait, collapse, begin to convulse and die – typically within 24 hours – depending on the toxicity of the bloom and the concentration of the toxin.

Those that do not die immediately often suffer severe liver damage. This may lead to the development of jaundice (‘the yellows’) or photosensitisation over the next few days.

Dr Bell said those that recover from these ailments often suffer from chronic ill-thrift. If a suspicious bloom is noticed, stock should be removed as quickly as possible, and a safe alternative water supply provided.

“Where possible producers should identify an alternative water supply, prior to their primary source of livestock drinking water being affected by a bloom. There may not be time to identify an alternative water source once the primary water supply is affected,” said Dr Bell.

“We recommend laboratory testing of the water supply for the presence of blue-green algae, and a post-mortem examination of dead or sick animals by a veterinarian.”

Blue-green algae toxins may remain on dry pasture for a long time following irrigation, often until there is a rain event or further irrigation with uncontaminated water.

Contaminated water should not be used to irrigate vegetables and fruit or come in contact with plants being grown for food, particularly fruit and vegetables that are mostly eaten raw such as apples, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages and other salad greens.

It is also recommended to keep stock off pasture that has been irrigated with blue-green algae contaminated water for at least seven days after irrigation.

Dr Bell said dogs are also prone to poisoning as they tend to swim in farm water supplies and should be kept away from suspect water sources.

Further information on blue-green algal contamination in your irrigation water source or livestock water supply is available on the Agriculture Victoria website at

High temperatures can impact livestock health and productivity

By Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer

As we head into the height of summer, heat stress in livestock can become a major issue both for production levels and animal welfare.

By making some minor management changes and taking a little extra care of your livestock in extreme hot weather, the effects of heat stress can be substantially reduced.

The ideal temperature range for cattle is between 5 and 25°C, and for adult pigs is 18 to 20°C.

High producing livestock, such as dairy cows, are the animals most sensitive to heat stress. Poultry have been known to perish due to heat stress on very hot days.

As temperatures rise, livestock divert energy away from production to cool themselves. This is done via heat loss through their skin surface and respiratory tract.

Feed intake is also reduced and a decrease in milk production may be observed.

Humidity also plays a significant role, and for any given temperature, the degree of heat stress increases as the relative humidity increases.

Heat stressed livestock will seek out shade, drink more, eat less, stand rather than lay, pant, produce less milk and potentially be less fertile.

On hot days, livestock should be given access to shade and good quality, cool drinking water.

High quality feed should be given during the evening when it is cooler, and livestock are likely to have better intakes.

The yarding and moving of livestock should be avoided during the hottest part of the day. Your fire plan may need to be enacted on such days.

For further information please contact your local veterinarian, Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or go to For information specifically for dairy cows visit:

The Very Fast Break: 2019 reviewed

Seasonal Climate Agronomist Dale Grey recaps the 2019 season.

How accurate were the models in your region? Right now they are forecasting dryer and hotter conditions for the next three months.

Watch the latest edition of The Very Fast Break online at:

Beware of nitrate poisoning

With ongoing dry seasonal conditions there is a heightened risk of nitrate poisoning in livestock.

When an animal is poisoned by nitrate the ability of its blood to transport oxygen is reduced.

As a result, an affected animal will have difficulty breathing, followed by becoming weak and staggery before collapsing and dying. If clinical signs are noticed early enough, veterinary treatment is possible.

A range of different weeds, crops and pasture plants have been associated with nitrate poisoning.

Capeweed, variegated thistle, marshmallow and pigweed are well-known accumulators.

Other crop plants including maize, rape, soybean, linseed, sorghum, millet, wheat, oats and barley have also been associated with nitrate poisoning, under certain growing conditions.

The factors that typically lead to plants causing nitrate poisoning include:

  • rapid plant uptake of soil nitrate following rain after a prolonged dry spell
  • moisture stress and low temperatures
  • the use of nitrogenous fertilisers
  • spraying with hormone-type herbicides such as 2,4-D makes plants more palatable.

If you have any concerns, it is recommended that hay and other feed be tested prior to feeding to determine its nitrate levels.

Cattle and sheep can tolerate a certain amount of nitrate.

One way of reducing the risk of nitrate poisoning is to ensure that cattle and sheep aren’t overly hungry when introduced to a new feed so their intake of nitrate is moderated to a tolerable level.

If nitrate poisoning is suspected, animals should be removed without delay from the suspect paddock/ feed and placed onto low risk feed containing less toxic herbage.

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

For more information about managing during drought and dry seasonal conditions go to or call 136 186.

Prevention of cruelty to animals regulations 2019

The new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) Regulations 2019 commenced on 14 December 2019, these replace the previous POCTA Regulations 2008.

The Victorian Government thanks the 2468 individuals and organisations who provided a wide variety of submissions and comments on the draft POCTA Regulations 2019.

The POCTA Regulations aim to protect the welfare of animals in Victoria by supporting the state’s primary animal welfare legislation to prevent or minimise harm through regulation of specific activities.

The regulations make improvements on important animal welfare issues including:

  • Animal transportation and tethering requirements
  • Confinement of animals in vehicles on hot days
  • Use of pain relief for mulesing of sheep
  • Sale and use of appropriate fruit netting to protect wildlife
  • Operational and administrative processes for rodeos
  • Scientific procedure record-keeping, the sourcing of animals, and training of Animal Ethics Committee members.

Visit Engage Victoria for a summary of the consultation process, feedback received and changes made to the regulations.

The full POCTA Regulations 2019 are available at

GRDC events to set the scene for 2020 Victorian cropping season

Registrations are now open for Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grains research and farm business Update events to be held throughout Victoria in early 2020.

GRDC Grains Research Updates and Farm Business Updates – designed to inform grain growers’ decision making leading into next year’s cropping season, and beyond – have been scheduled for February and March.

Information, insights and advice to be presented at the Updates have the potential to underpin improved agronomic practices and farm business operations for increased profitability, according to GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Courtney Ramsey.

“The GRDC Grains Research Updates will each feature a line-up of expert speakers who will deliver the latest findings from GRDC research investments which have relevance to and implications for the State’s growers,” Ms Ramsey says.

Grains Research Updates will kick off on February 25-26 when the State’s premier grains research, development and extension event is held in Bendigo.

The Bendigo Update plays an important role in enabling researchers to transfer their knowledge from GRDC investments to advisers and growers, and for showcasing the latest developments in technology.

A regional GRDC Grains Research Update will be at Bannockburn on February 27.

GRDC Farm Business Updates have been scheduled for Swan Hill on March 11 and Bendigo on March 12.

“Further opportunities to generate profit growth within Victoria’s grain growing enterprises will be explored at the Farm Business Updates where the economic implications of practice change by growers and critical skills for business improvement will be investigated.”

For further information and to register for the updates, please visit or phone ORM on 03 5441 6176 or email

Boost your business: food innovation voucher stream

The Food Innovation Voucher Stream is a new initiative of the Victorian Government that helps companies access the know-how needed to innovate, diversify, improve productivity and take new and innovative products to market.

The vouchers and associated Food Innovation Network will deliver on the Victorian Food and Fibre Sector strategy.

Round 4 of Boost Your Business closes Sunday 22 December 2019.


At a glance

  • Potential assistance
  • Up to $10,000 for early stage feasibility and testing
  • Up to $50,000 for process innovation, product development and research and development


Applicant businesses must be a small to medium enterprise with an operating presence in Victoria and be registered as members of the Food Innovation 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.

Honey bee health survey: closing soon

A short survey has been developed to find out how healthy Australian honey bees are, and what pests and diseases might be causing problems for beekeepers.

The results from the survey will be used to decide what help beekeepers might need to keep their honey bees healthy. It will also provide statistics for use by the industry.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, Plant Health Australia, and AgriFutures Australia, encourage all Australian beekeepers to take part in this survey, which will only take 10 to 12 minutes to complete.

The survey closes on 31 December 2019.


Finding Australia's next generation of lamb leaders

Are you, or do you know someone, aged 18 –35 years who is passionate about the Australian sheep and lamb industry?

Well, we'd like to let them know that the LambEx 2020 Young Guns competition is open!

Six finalists will be selected from round one of the LambEx 2020 Young Guns competition to attend the conference in Melbourne, receive travel assistance up to $800, and will be provided with professional development opportunities during the event.

Entering the competition is easy! LambEx wants to hear your vision on how to connect the Australian sheep and lamb industry with city consumers.

Simply capture your vision in three minutes or less using any digital medium(s) including (but not limited to) video, photography with voice overlay, digital storytelling, graphics, animation, GoPro etc.

Unleash your creativity over the coming months to prepare and submit your entry by 31 January 2020.

For information go to:

What's on
Slug and snail management workshops - February 4 and 5
Event details

Goroke – Tuesday 4 February, 4.30 to 7.30 pm

Noradjuha – Wednesday 5 February, 8.30 am to
12.30 pm

Lubeck – Wednesday 5 February, 1.30 to 4 pm

COST: Free


Growers and advisers are invited to an interactive presentation by snail and slug management expert, Michael Nash.

Dr Nash will provide the latest information on managing snails and slugs to apply to your paddock for cost-effective control.


  • Hands-on identification of slug and snail species
  • Lifecycles of the most concerning species
  • Market access
  • Integrated control strategies including best bets for baiting
  • Q and A session

To attend the events please register online at: or phone Heather on 0427 868 705.

ABC of herbicide resistance - February 17 and 18
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.

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

Stock Containment Area workshop - 18 February
Event details

DATE: Tuesday, 18 February

TIME: 9.30 am to 1 pm, lunch provided

VENUE: ‘The Ranch’, R & F Mitchell, 4686 Glenelg Highway, Glenthompson

RSVP: 17 February 


Come along to share information on establishing and managing a stock containment area for sheep.


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


  • Clem Sturmfels – Land Management Extension Officer, Agriculture Victoria
  • Nerida Evans - District Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria
  • Russell and Fiona Mitchell – farm owners, ‘The Ranch’

Register online by Monday 17 February at:

For more information phone Neil James Agriculture Victoria 0417353929 or if you have any trouble registering contact Nerissa Lovric on 0475 986 314 or email

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.

Agriculture Victoria 2020 climate webinar series

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

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.