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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 18 June, 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The Victorian Government is gradually easing restrictions currently in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In all activities, farmers are asked to be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense. And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.

Stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should get tested.

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

More information is also available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Latest News
Resuming services for our farming community

Agriculture Victoria will resume several key services in the coming weeks, which have been suspended in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as restrictions gradually ease across the state.

Chief Executive Emily Phillips said that Agriculture Victoria had continued to work closely with the agriculture sector and farming communities during restrictions to support them during the difficult time, including redesigning many services to be delivered online.

“We’ve continued to deliver many of our services during coronavirus, ensuring the safety of farmers while prioritising support for this important sector,” Dr Phillips said.

“This included ongoing services to support farmers impacted by bushfire across the North East and East Gippsland, and farmers who continue to be impacted by drought and dry seasonal conditions across the state.”

Operations at Agriculture Victoria’s Pig Services Centre, based at Epsom, resumed earlier this week, including providing and accepting all orders for pig vaccine manufacturing and diagnostic services.

Designated fox and wild dog bounty collection centres will open from 29 June, operating in line with physical distancing requirements including established drop off and exclusion zones.

During the suspension period, bounty participants were encouraged to continue to collect fox scalps and wild dog body parts on private properties as part of pest control activities, and to freeze or air dry them.

Hunters are encouraged to refresh their knowledge of the terms and conditions of the bounty to ensure what they submit is acceptable.

Participants can submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward and entire wild dog body parts for a $120 reward during scheduled collection times.

With the gradual easing of restrictions, Victorians are still being asked to be considered and use common sense when it comes their activities.

Stay safe by practising good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and, if you feel unwell, stay home.

The coronavirus situation continues to change rapidly so please regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest update:

For further information on the bounty including collection schedule, terms and conditions of the bounty, visit or call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

hay in a field
Feeding roughage in winter is essential

Dr Jeff Cave - District Veterinary Officer

When there is new pasture growth and you are providing various supplementary feeds, you may ask – why feed roughage?

Roughage is the bulky feed such as hay, that is generally considered to be high in fibre and lower in energy.

Livestock may require roughage during winter for the following reasons:

  • even though some roughage may be left uneaten, livestock require a minimum amount of fibre and long roughage to maintain their digestive systems. This is sometimes known as the ‘scratch factor’ and stimulates rumination (cud chewing)
  • when moving livestock onto green pasture, their rumen needs time to adjust to a new feed type
  • newly growing pasture may not have adequate fibre levels
  • it may be better to supplement stock to allow time for the pasture to establish and develop
  • hungry livestock need to be prevented from gorging themselves on pastures that may have potential to cause nitrate poisoning or bloat
  • if feeding grain or pellets with too little roughage, acidosis (grain poisoning) can occur
  • as we move further into winter, hay may be needed to reduce the risk of grass tetany and allows a way of administering magnesium oxide (Causmag).

Another good reason to feed livestock roughage in cold weather, is that roughage in the diet helps keep livestock warm.

This is because the fermentation and breakdown of cellulose creates heat energy.

If livestock do not have enough roughage, they will utilise their body fat to create energy for warmth.

Therefore it is more effective to feed your livestock late in the afternoon, as this will provide ‘heat’ throughout the night.

Agriculture Victoria's drought feeding books for sheep and cattle contain information on cow and sheep requirements as well as a guide to conducting and interpreting feed tests (Chapter 5 in the cattle book and Chapter 3 in the sheep book).

The books are available from the Feeding Livestock website or by ringing the Customer Service Centre on 136 186, who can also refer you to a livestock or animal health officer.

image of daniel schuppan
Mallee podcasts share livestock and paddock tips

Agriculture Victoria has produced a new podcast series focussing on livestock and land management in the Mallee.

The new podcasts, hosted on the Mallee Sustainable Farming website, provide timely information for Mallee farmers through the winter months.

Ready to download tomorrow night (Friday 19 June) ‘Grazing Cereals with Daniel Schuppan’ talks through the potential for establishing groundcover to fill an early feed gap.

A livestock consultant with Nutrien Ag Solutions, Daniel has worked with producers from low rainfall pastoral environments for the past 15 years.

“The last three years have been particularly testing times and the majority of my time has been taken up preparing feed budgets for producers who had to confine their stock for, in some cases, six to eight months or more,” he said.

Throughout the 15-minute podcast, Daniel talks through the importance of having a written strategic plan that has flexibility to allow producers to “weave their way” through the seasonal variations.

“I know most of you will have it in your head, but I do encourage you to have a written plan and to make it available to everybody in the business. That way everyone has direction and knows which way they’re headed going forward.”

Next week, Agriculture Victoria Land Management Development Officer Rebecca Mitchell will be discussing how Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) can directly benefit Mallee farmers and share some innovative examples of how it has been adopted.

Also in production and ready to be released weekly throughout the coming winter months, will be:

  • Feed testing – with Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer Erica Schelfhorst
  • Marketing cattle – with Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer Greg Ferrier
  • Weaning livestock – with Agriculture Victoria Lamb Industry Development Officer Nick Linden
  • Cutting crops for hay – with Agriculture Victoria Grains Regional Manager Tony Fay
  • Risky Weeds – with District Veterinary Officer Jeff Cave.

The podcasts are delivered by Agriculture Victoria with funding from the Victorian Government’s 2019-20 Drought Support Package and can be downloaded here

New Turnip Yellows Virus information video
piotr tribecki in his office

Farmers with canola and pulse crops need to be on the alert for Turnip Yellows Virus (TuYV).

That’s the key message in a video from Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Piotr Trebicki.

TuYV, previously known as ‘Beet Western Yellows Virus’, can infect canola and pulse crops (eg, field peas, faba beans, chickpeas and lentils).

The general symptoms are leaf distortion along with purple, red and/or yellow leaf discoloration. Stunting is common with early infection.

Dr Trebicki advice to farmers is to carefully monitor crops and adjacent areas for green peach aphids, which are the primary vector for TuYV transmission.

Check out the video here.

New Mallee trial investigates the relationship between Nitrogen and Soil Carbon

A new research project, being undertaken by Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), is investigating ways to improve crop biomass production and yield on the poor performing sandy soils common across the Mallee.

The project, supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program, is investigating the relationship between increased biomass production through targeted nitrogen (N) applications and whether these practices can improve soil carbon levels under local conditions, and if so, the degree to which this can be achieved.

The project is being run in parallel with a secondary project with support from the Wimmera CMA which is investigating the impacts of a variety of soil amelioration techniques including deep ripping, claying and manure spreading on crop biomass and yield.

“Every farm has patches that for some reason, year after year, fail to perform as well as the rest of the paddock.

BCG research agronomist Kate Maddern said even with adequate nutrition, disease and weed control crops grown in these patches often did not produce as much biomass during the season, which could carry through to lower yields and/or poor quality at harvest.

Poor performing patches can be due to underlying soil constraints, such as differences in water-holding capacity, a compaction layer, a difference in soil type, or other issues such as sodicity, nutrient deficiencies, salinity or acidity/alkalinity and nitrogen deficiency.

Research also suggests that depleted levels of soil organic carbon can also be a contributing factor in crop performance.

“Soil organic carbon is an important contributor to the chemical, physical and biological fertility of soils. Increasing soil organic carbon can help to increase nutrient availability, help to improve soil structure and water-holding capacity and stimulate the growth of beneficial soil micro-organisms” Ms Maddern said.

“However, when lower plant production is combined with consistent organic matter removal, through hay cuts, stubble burning or harvesting, soil organic matter and soil organic carbon, the little bits of plant matter in the soil and the carbon derived from that plant matter, can be depleted."

For more about the applicable learnings, go here.

Farm Business Resilience Webinar Series
canva tile saying farm business webinar

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of webinars to improve farm business resilience, hosted by ORM managing consultant Matt McCarthy. Farmers and farm business managers should register for the webinars to identify how to safeguard their core business operations when unexpected situations occur. Register for each of the webinars below to attend or receive a link of the recorded event.

Webinar 3: Your Resources

Thursday 2 July, 1.30pm

In this webinar, participants will be shown how to identify critical work flows, exposures and vulnerabilities, set priorities and access potential impacts using a risk matrix.

Register here

Webinar 4: Your Plan

Thursday 16 July, 1.30pm

In this webinar, an expert panel from across agriculture will discuss how farmers have successfully built business resilience over the last decade, where are the main gaps, and how can farms build resilience into the future.

Register here

Delay the spray if frost is forecast – clethodim advice to growers

Grain growers in the southern cropping region should avoid spraying annual ryegrass with clethodim herbicide when frost is forecast.

Weed control experts are advising growers not to spray clethodim two to three days before or after a frost event due to the impact on efficacy.

The reminder has been issued following a recent spate of frost events across South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

The poor performance of clethodim on annual ryegrass – a weed becoming increasingly resistant to clethodim – can be associated with cold and frosty conditions.

Research by the University of Adelaide through a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment has shown that frost, particularly before clethodim application, reduces the herbicide’s activity in susceptible annual ryegrass populations.

The studies demonstrated that clethodim efficacy was further reduced in resistant annual ryegrass populations regardless of whether the frost event was prior to or post clethodim application.

However, the impact was much greater when frost occurred before application of clethodim, which is a Group A herbicide.

University of Adelaide Associate Professor in weed and crop ecology, Gurjeet Gill, says frosty conditions make it even harder to control annual ryegrass when clethodim resistance is present in the population.

“Growers are advised to carefully review weather forecasts for their district and spray clethodim when cloud cover is present and the risk of frost occurrence is low,” Dr Gill says.

“Ideally, spray small ryegrass plants under warmer and frost-free periods for the best results with clethodim.

“Stress imposed by frost is a highly significant factor affecting clethodim efficacy on annual ryegrass. We want the ryegrass to be actively growing and stress-free for clethodim to do the best job,” Dr Gill says.

Clethodim resistance has been increasing in the southern cropping region at a steady rate, and in some areas the resistance level in ryegrass populations is now 30 percent.

“In most cases, clethodim still provides reasonable ryegrass control provided weeds are sprayed early and at a time when frost is unlikely to occur two to three days before or after spraying,” Dr Gill says.

Dr Gill’s message is particularly pertinent to areas prone to frost at this time of year, when many canola and pulse crops are likely to be sprayed for ryegrass control.

In order to extend the effective life of clethodim, it is important to maintain ryegrass populations at a low level by integrating pre-emergence herbicides and other tactics such as crop-topping, maximising crop competition and harvest weed seed control.

“The use of weed-suppressive hybrid canola can considerably boost overall clethodim performance on ryegrass. Crop competition should be viewed as an ally in the control of herbicide-resistant annual ryegrass,” Dr Gill says.

More information on the impact of frost on clethodim efficacy and research into clethodim resistance can be found in Dr Gill’s GRDC Grains Research Update paper at

Further information on in-crop herbicide use is available via the GRDC herbicide behaviour resource portal,, as well as the GRDC-supported WeedSmart website,

Need help controlling gorse?
humans in front of gorse
Livestock Biosecurity Funds grant program

The Livestock Biosecurity Funds Grant Program is now open for applications.

Apply now for support for projects or programs that prevent, monitor and control diseases in Victorian cattle, sheep, goat, swine or honeybee industries.

Go to:

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.

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can now be found in one spot on our website. Log on to to find out what's on.

What's On
Victorian winter seasonal outlook

Winter seasonal outlook webinars with Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey focussing on the seasonal climate outlook, as well as the oceanic, atmospheric and soil moisture conditions of particular relevant to Victoria.

Tuesday 23 June 12 - 1 pm
Register online at

GRDC Farm Business Update - developing management and decision-making skills

Improving the effectiveness of management capabilities, can reduce the stress associated with making complicated decisions.

Date: 10 July
Time: 1 - 2 pm
More details at 

Pig producer webinars



Date: – 23 June, 2 pm

  • Biosecurity Best Practice Protocols, Dr Chris Richards and Dr Bri Fredrich  Apiam animal health


Date: - 30 June, 2 pm

To register follow the link:

flyer for AFS webinar
Climate change in Victoria - past, present and future

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is running this webinar to give an overview of the information from Victoria’s Climate Science Report 2019 and the local-scale Victorian Climate Projections 2019, as well as guidance on understanding and using the information.

Webinar 1: Climate change in Victoria – past, present and future

Date: 1 - 2 pm, Wednesday 24 June. Topics include:

  • Victoria’s climate has already changed
  • Future climate projections
  • Resources available – using the decision tree to find what you need
  • Victoria’s Climate Science Report 2019
  • Regional information: Victorian Climate Projections 2019 Regional reports, data tables
  • Communicating Climate Change
  • Planning for uncertainty
  • Lots of time for Q&A with the DELWP project team.

Join via this link on the day

Webinar 2: Victorian Climate Projections 2019 – findings and tips for interpreting

Date: 1-2pm, Friday 26 June. Topics include:

  • What do the projections say for Victoria?
  • What are the benefits of local-scale climate data?
  • How to understand and work with the different sources of uncertainty in projections
  • Top tips to interpret the projections correctly
  • Lots of time for Q&A with DELWP and CSIRO scientists.

Join via this link on the day

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Are you ready for new mulesing regulations?

Are you ready for the new regulations for mulesing starting 1 July?

Have you stopped or considering stopping Mulesing?

Join us for a free webinar with one of Australia's leading sheep consultants.

Dr John Webb Ware of the Mackinnon Project will take you through the new mulesing regulations being introduced from the 1st of July?

For those contemplating stopping mulesing; what you need to have in place before you stop and how do you manage an unmulesed flock.

WHAT: Mulesing 2020 and beyond: What is the future of breech strike control?

WHEN: Thursday, 25 June

TIME:  8 – 9 pm

WHERE:  Webinar

To register follow the link:

Subscribe to Grampians Ag News

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.


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Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


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