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Loddon Mallee Ag News Christmas banner
Thursday 19 December, 2019

This is the final Loddon Mallee Ag News for 2019.

I would like to thank you all for your support throughout the year.

Wishing you all a fabulous holiday season and a happy New Year.

The column will return to your Inbox on January 30, 2020.

In this edition

Farm machinery improvement grants now open

On farm drought resilience grant program now open

High temperatures can impact livestock health and productivity

Be alert for blue-green algae in farm water supplies

On-Farm Emergency Water rebate scheme

Chemical users BeeConnected about pollinator safety

Beekeeper pleads guilty to bringing in diseased hives

Climate webinar series will keep you informed

Prevention of cruelty to animals regulations 2019

Victorian Crop Sowing Guide

GRDC events to set the scene for 2020 Victorian cropping season

Feeding livestock website

Boost your business: food innovation voucher stream

Irrigating Agriculture

Water Market Watch app

Young farmer business network

What's On

Farm machinery improvement grants now open

Farmers in Victoria's Millewa region can now apply for a farm machinery grant to help them maintain on-farm machinery and equipment and prepare for future seasons.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes announced this week applications were now open for the Farm Machinery Improvement Grants Program as part of the government's $31.6 million drought assistance package, announced in October.

The program will be delivered by the Victorian Farmers Federation and will provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible dryland farm businesses in the Millewa and surrounding areas.

Farm owners, operators, share farmers or leaseholders can apply for a grant to undertake essential maintenance and repair of machinery including tractors, harvesters, seeders and hay baling equipment - including maintenance and repairs to meet safety standards and repairs to fix or replace broken parts.

The $31.6 million drought package takes the government's total support for drought-affected farmers since September 2018 to over $81 million.

For more information about the program and to apply for support, visit or call 136 186.

On-farm drought resilience grant program now open
new drought grants

Victorian farmers impacted by drought and dry seasonal conditions are encouraged to apply for two grant programs offering both on-farm assistance and direct financial household relief.

The CWA of Victoria’s Drought Relief Program has been provided a funding boost by the Victorian Government for the provision of household financial relief.

A grant payment of up to $3000 per individual applicant and/or household is available for farming families, farm workers and contractors that are drought-affected and reliant on farming as their primary source of income.

This program is being funded through the Victorian Government’s Farmers’ Drought Fund - Household Financial Relief program announced on 2 October 2019.

To access an application form or to find out more go to or email

The On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program is now available to assist eligible farm businesses to invest in on-farm drought preparedness or to seek business advice with a grant of up to $5000.

To access the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant farmers should contact Rural Finance direct to discuss their eligibility on 1800 260 425 or go to

Both programs target farm businesses and farming families in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires, dryland farming in the Millewa region and irrigation farming in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID). 

For further information on other available support and assistance contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186, visit the website or drop into the closest Agriculture Victoria office in your area.

High Temperatures can impact livestock health and productivity

Dr Jeff Cave
District Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria

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:

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

On-Farm Emergency Water rebate scheme

The On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme is now available for the purchase and installation of emergency water infrastructure for livestock.

The scheme is available to eligible farm businesses in a number of local government areas, including: Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Loddon, Strathbogie, Swan Hill, Mildura and Buloke.

Farm businesses outside of the above local government areas can make an application if they can demonstrate a critical water need for livestock resulting from current seasonal conditions.

These applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The scheme is available for water infrastructure purchased since 1 July 2018 – guidelines and application details can be obtained from Rural Finance, call 1800 260 425 or visit

Chemical users BeeConnected about pollinator safety

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

BeeConnected is a national database 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 traceability 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

Climate webinar series will keep you informed

Agriculture Victoria have an exciting program of climate webinars for 2020. Subscribe 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

Prevention of cruelty to animals regulations 2019
Get your pig a PIC every block of land with livestock is legally required to have a Property Identification Code.

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

Victorian crop sowing guide

The Victorian Crop Sowing Guide outlines information on current varieties of the major winter crops grown in Victoria.

The publication aims to prompt growers to ask themselves, ‘Am I growing the best variety for my situation?’

New varieties for 2020

There are several new wheat varieties being released for 2020 - bread wheats Catapult, LRPB Hellfire, LRPB Nighthawk, and RockStar, along with new durum varieties Bitalli, DBA Spes, and Westcourt.

Leabrook is a new barley variety being released in 2020 as a feed variety, while is it being evaluated for malting and brewing accreditation, with a decision expected in 2020.

Two new oat varieties are to be released in 2020, Bilby is a potential milling variety while Koorbup is a hay variety; with InterGrain making an announcement in spring 2019 for a world’s first IMI-tolerant oat variety estimated to come into production by 2021.

Multiple new canola varieties were released in spring 2019 for sowing in 2020, including the introduction to new TruFlex® canola varieties.

A new red lentil variety, PBA Highland TX will be released for 2020, with the announcement of an IMI-tolerant variety of lentil available to growers in 2021.

PBA Amberley is the first faba bean variety to be released with moderate resistance to chocolate spot, and a new chickpea variety, PBA Royal, will be available for growers in 2020.

Vetch has been included into the Sowing Guide for the first time in 2020 and highlights some commonly grown vetch varieties and their characteristics. Vetch is not currently a part of the NVTs in Victoria.

Download your copy here.

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 said.

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 27 February.

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

Feeding livestock website

Did you know that the Agriculture Victoria’s Beef and Sheep Drought Feeding and Management online books have a new home?

They are housed and updated on the FeedLivestock website and can be downloaded or viewed in whole or as individual chapters on any device.

Other key features of the website, include;

- tools and calculators
- sheep resources
- beef resources
- climate information
- unusual feeds
- stock water information

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.

Irrigating Agriculture

Check out what's new on Agriculture Victoria's extensionAUS Irrigating Agriculture website this week.

The site has regular features on farm planning, irrigation scheduling, irrigation systems and water management.

You'll also find weekly irrigation requirements for your region.

Water Market Watch app
Water Market Watch app

Stay up-to-date with the Victorian water market with the water market watch app.

This app shows authoritative Victorian government water market data and will send you notifications directly from the Victorian Water Register.

The app lets you select data you’re interested in to set up a notification sent to your mobile phone or device.


The water market watch app shows current Victorian Water Register data about:

  • Seasonal determinations – all systems with water shares
  • Trade limits – all systems with water shares
  • Spill determinations – Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray
  • Allocation market price – weekly median price for the Goulburn and Murray systems

You can set up multiple notifications about these data topics.

The app shows current data about the Victorian water market. For more detailed data and historical trends, please visit

Young farmer business network
Young Farmers Business Network group on Facebook

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

Agriculture Victoria will cancel workshops on Code Red fire danger days

Kerang Young Farmer Business Bootcamp

Agriculture Victoria is running a Young Farmer Business Bootcamp in Kerang.

The two day bootcamp is suited to those who are young or new to managing a farm business and wanting to forge a long and successful career in beef, sheep and mixed farming enterprises by developing the skills required to respond to risks, such as dry seasonal conditions.

The bootcamp is delivered over two days - Wednesday 12 and Wednesday 19 February 2020.

Participants can expect to improve their understanding of profit and loss and cash flow budgeting, balance sheets and gross margins, planning for and managing risks and financial planning and analysis.

The bootcamps will be delivered by Tristan Wardley, Farm Business Economist, Agriculture Victoria.


Do I need to attend both days?

Yes, this is a two day program.

What can I bring into the event?

Course materials are provided.

Date and time: Wednesday 12 February, 2020, 9 am to 4 pm

Location: Agriculture Victoria's Kerang office, 26 Wellington Street, Kerang.


If you are unable to register using eventbrite or would like further information, please contact Sarah Wallis on (03) 5761 1573.

GRDC Grains Research Update (Bendigo)

GRDC Grains Research Update (Bendigo)

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.

Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Ulumbarra Theatre
10 Gaol Road, Bendigo

GRDC Farm Business Update (Swan Hill)

The GRDC Farm Business Update events drive innovation and adoption of improved farm business management practices across the grains industry.

Wednesday 11 March, 2020

Town Hall Performing Arts Centre

57 McCallum Street, Swan Hill

9.30 am to 3.15 pm (Doors Open At 9 am)

Speakers and Topics coming soon

ABARES Outlook 2020

WHERE: Canberra

WHEN: 3 and 4 March, 2020

ABARES Outlook 2020 conference is exploring the practical steps to reaching what some call an ambitious target - $100 billion in farm output by 2030.

Be part of the conversation as we consider the opportunities and threats in reaching that target.

Early bird tickets

To register for early-bird registration rates, nominate session or speakers, or to register for our e-news updates go to

Traceability and NLIS Database Management - Producer webinar

Please note: This is a two-part webinar, delivered 8 - 9 pm Monday 15 March and 8 - 9 pm Monday 22 March. You must attend both parts to participate.

Agriculture Victoria is conducting this interactive two-part webinar to assist Victorian livestock producers to use the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database to complete transactions, including Property to Property (P2P) transfers.

This two-part webinar is relevant to cattle, sheep and goat producers.

All sheep and goats and cattle tagged with an EID NLIS tag must be transferred on the NLIS database when they are moved between two different Victorian Property Identification Codes (PICs).

This interactive two-part webinar will walk producers through setting up and using the NLIS database.


  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database
  • Management of livestock movements onto your property
  • Property to Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.

Numbers are limited to allow for an interactive session, so register early.

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

Subscribe here to the 'Loddon Mallee Ag News' e-newsletter and share this link with your colleagues.

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

A full list of our 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. 


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