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Thursday, 7 March 2024

In this edition:

Support and resources for fire affected farmers

Agriculture Victoria teams have been on the ground supporting farmers with animal welfare and making impact assessments following the recent fires.

Agriculture Victoria State Agency Commander Banjo Patterson said the immediate focus was any urgent animal welfare needs caused by the fires.

‘If your property has been impacted by fire and you have urgent animal welfare needs, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.’

As of 4 pm on Sunday there were approximately 270 livestock and 2,400 hectares of grazing pasture lost, and 1,700 kilometres of fencing impacted due to the Bayindeen-Rocky Road fire.

Farmers and primary producers affected by the recent fires are encouraged to activate their post-fire plans and actively manage their livestock needs.

Mr Patterson said after a fire has come through on your property it’s important to have a plan to deal with the aftermath, both in the first few days and following weeks.

‘A good place to start is the Agriculture Victoria website which has plenty of information about what to do immediately and in the longer term’, he said.

There is practical advice around personal health and wellbeing, water management, soil and pasture recovery, fencing, pest control and financial support.

An emergency feed and water budget to help you determine your livestock’s short-term needs is also available to download.


Support is also available through the Rural Financial Counselling Service. Farmers and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or are at risk of, financial hardship can call 1300 771 741 for free and confidential financial counselling.

What to do after a bushfire
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Visit our website for more information on fire recoveryClick here

Prepare for hot weather this weekend
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With parts of the state expecting extremely hot weather over the weekend, it’s important to ensure your animals have access to sufficient shade and lots of cool water to avoid heat stress.

Stay safe and follow VicEmergency for updates.

More information for caring for animals during extreme heat available here

Tackling emerging livestock biosecurity challenges
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The Victorian Government is bolstering Victoria’s biosecurity system with funding for projects that help prevent, monitor, and control pests and diseases in livestock.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently opened applications for the 2024 Livestock Biosecurity Funds grants program.

Victoria will continue to face new and emerging biosecurity risks – driven by climate change, increasing trade and travel, and changing land use – and innovative new solutions are critical to protecting Victoria’s $20 billion agriculture industry.

The Livestock Biosecurity Fund grants program supports projects that adopt new and emerging technologies to respond to livestock biosecurity issues, encourage collaboration, and deliver quantifiable benefits to the livestock industry.

Agriculture Victoria and the state’s livestock compensation advisory committees developed the grants program which is funded through duties generated by the sale of cattle, sheep, goat and pigs and their carcasses in Victoria, and using beekeeper registration fees.

Prospective applicants joined an online forum today to hear from the livestock compensation advisory committees about what they are hoping to see in applications this round.

Previously funded projects included the Victorian Farmers Federation popular producer-led Stock Sense Livestock program, which received $2.19 million over the past four years.

The program helps Victorian livestock producers adopt animal health and production practices that improve animal welfare and Victoria’s biosecurity status.

Another project supported through the program is the Electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) (Sheep) tags.

This has helped maintain the low-disease status of Victoria’s sheep and goat industries and protects Victoria’s reputation in domestic and export markets as a supplier of wholesome meat and dairy products.

Applications close on 15 April, to apply visit

Rethink your campfire this long weekend

Visitors to northeast Victoria’s parks and forests this long weekend are being urged to check conditions and think twice about lighting a campfire.

The Conservation Regulator, Forest Fire Management Victoria, and Parks Victoria are reminding campers to act responsibly and be fire-safe, as the combination of hot, dry, and windy weather conditions increases fire risk significantly.

Since 1 January, authorities have detected more than 170 unattended campfires in parks and forests across the state.

'While summer has ended, the region remains extremely dry and the risk of fires, as witnessed in the west of the state last week, remains very real,' Forest Fire Management Victoria Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Aaron Kennedy, said.

'It’s crucial that visitors understand campfire rules and check fire danger ratings and restrictions before lighting a fire. It’s illegal to light or maintain a fire on a Total Fire Ban.

'It’s also important that campers build and maintain safe campfires by following the rules. Campfires should never be left unattended, and must be completely extinguished with water, not soil, and be cool to the touch before leaving.'

Regional Manager Regulatory Operations, Conservation Regulator Victoria, Greg Chant, said visitors are also reminded that all rubbish and personal items must be taken home; not dumped or burned.

'Our authorised officers will be on patrol over the weekend targeting dangerous and illegal behaviour, such as unattended campfires, illegal off-road vehicle use, and littering.

'Anyone caught doing the wrong thing faces fines between $192 and $46,154.

'We want everyone to enjoy their time in our forests, but campfire negligence and illegal behaviour will not be tolerated,' he said.

Official weather forecasts and warnings can be found at and VicEmergency.

The community can report unattended or unsafe campfires or littering on public land to 136 186. Bushfires should be reported to 000.

For more information about rules in state forests, including campfires and vehicle use, visit and to understand the rules in state and national parks, visit:

Help implement Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy

Agriculture Victoria is calling for applicants to join the Biosecurity Reference Group and help implement Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy.

Agriculture Victoria Executive Director Katherine Clift said the Biosecurity Reference Group would play a vital role in ensuring Victoria’s biosecurity response reflects the entire system.

‘The new Biosecurity Strategy outlines how we can work together to manage biosecurity risks and build our resilience to emerging threats,’ Dr Clift said.

‘That’s why it is important the Biosecurity Reference Group is filled with people from across Victoria’s biosecurity system who can represent the many different interests that biosecurity touches.’

Applications are invited from people from all affected groups, including Traditional Owners, agriculture, supply chain, community and environment.

The original Biosecurity Reference Group played a pivotal role in guiding the development of Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy.

Their expertise ensured the strategy prioritised collaboration and engagement across the biosecurity system to respond to issues, marking a significant shift in Victoria’s biosecurity policy.

Dr Clift emphasised the importance of continuing to strengthen how Victoria manages emerging biosecurity threats such as foot-and-mouth disease and red imported fire ants.

‘The renewed Biosecurity Reference Group will help guide the implementation of the strategy, including how we should measure success,’ Dr Clift said.

‘This will help safeguard our farms and parks, pets and gardens, our native plants and animals, the safety of our food, cultural integrity of our landscapes and success of our industries.

Submit an expression of interest to join the Biosecurity Reference Group visit by 5 pm Wednesday, 3 April.

Don’t forget to register online to receive updates on implementation and upcoming engagement opportunities.

The Horticultural Netting Program
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Grants of up to $150,000 are available to eligible producers of commercial horticulture crops, excluding wine grapes, to purchase and install new netting over established production areas. 

The program now includes a self-installation allowance if you wish to self-install netting.

Applications close 8 April.

For more information about the program visit the Horticultural Netting Grants for Victorian Horticulturalists page on our website.

This program is delivered by the Victorian Government on behalf of the Australian Government.

Firewood collection areas open in state forests

Victorians are able to collect free firewood for personal use from state forest collection areas until 30 June.

Domestic firewood supply in state forests is provided from fallen trees and forest management works.

Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) Director of Forest and Fire Operations, Aaron Kennedy, said people can collect up to two cubic metres per person per day during a firewood collection season with a maximum of 16 cubic metres per household per financial year.

He said firewood collection is only allowed in designated firewood collection areas in state forests during approved times and for personal use only. Collected firewood cannot be sold.

Maps are available at

Firewood collectors are being urged to play it safe and check local weather conditions as well as their planned route before heading into the forest, especially after recent flooding, storms and bushfires.

“When collecting, please drive only on formed roads, be aware of the environment around you and safety of yourself and others as trees may fall or drop limbs without warning,” Mr Kennedy said.

“I would encourage people who rely on firewood for heating and cooking to plan their needs early.”

“Firewood collected during the collection seasons needs at least 8-12 months to cure and be dry before use.”

The Victorian Government provides targeted energy support and concessions for people on low incomes who buy firewood or need assistance with their energy costs.

This includes tailored support via the Energy Assistance Program, a $250 rebate for eligible households from the Energy Bill Relief Fund, payments of between $55 and $619 per year for eligible households that rely on non-mains energy including firewood for heating and cooking, and up to $650 via the Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant for Victorians on low incomes who rely on firewood as their only source of fixed heating.

More information about financial assistance is available for people on low incomes who buy firewood, click here.

It’s an offence to collect wood outside designated areas or to leave formed roads to collect or load.

“Most people do the right thing and stick to the collection limits, but people should know Authorised Officers from the Conservation Regulator, FFMVic and Parks Victoria conduct routine, random and targeted patrols of forest areas,” Mr Kennedy said.

Officers can issue fines of $769 to those caught breaking the rules, and serious offences have a maximum penalty of $9,615 and/or one year in prison.

Community members can help by reporting any suspected illegal firewood collection on 136 186.

Help shape Victoria’s first Cat Management Strategy

The Victorian Government has released the state’s first draft cat management strategy, aimed at improving the health and welfare of domestic cats and native animals.

Cat management is a significant and complex issue. The need for effective cat management is vital, with over 227,000 registered cats and many more unregistered, unowned, or feral cats in Victorian urban and natural environments.

The cat populations often overlap creating challenges for animal welfare, the environment, and local communities.

The cat management strategy aims to address these challenges with a focus on:

  • responsible cat ownership 
  • desexing and containment
  • urban cat population control
  • feral cat management
  • improving collaboration, information sharing, laws and processes.

The draft strategy has been developed following extensive research and engagement with a range of stakeholders including councils, animal welfare organisations, land managers, conservation groups and veterinary professionals.

The government is investing $1.3 million from the Victorian Budget 2022/23 for three cat management initiatives, including on the development of a cat management strategy.

Victorians can now share their views and ideas on the draft strategy at

Fall armyworm commands growers' attention
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Victorian agronomists and growers should be vigilant in crop surveillance for Fall armyworm (FAW), following the impacts the pest is having on crops in Queensland.

Fall armyworm has rapidly spread across Australia after being found in Queensland in January 2020 and is now established in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Western Australia and parts of Victoria.

Agriculture Victoria Plant Pests and Diseases Manager Chris Pittock said a collaborative effort between government, industry and the community is crucial to effectively manage pests such as Fall armyworm.

‘If agronomists and farmers find Fall armyworm on their property, they should seek professional advice for treatment and management.

‘Given this pest is established in some parts of the state – we have adapted our practices to manage it. We have been able to watch what has happened in the northern states and learn from their experiences.’

‘Detections of concern to us would be if the pest is found outside of central Victoria near the Murray River, and some parts of Gippsland.’

Agriculture Victoria has been leading the State response for the National Fall armyworm project, which is coordinated by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).

The project aims to support Australian growers with the latest information and tools to manage FAW.

Early detection of FAW is important to ensure producers are making decisions in observance with best practice methods of control, and to reduce the likelihood of resistance occurring in the pest.

For the most up-to-date information on how to identify and prevent FAW, check out the Fall Armyworm Beatsheet.

Agriculture Victoria is monitoring the distribution of Fall armyworm across Victoria. You can report a sighting by contacting the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186 or by completing the Online Reporting Form.

Fall armyworm information

  • Fall armyworm has adapted to warm tropical and sub-tropical areas in northern Australia and can migrate rapidly and be spread by storm events
  • Fall armyworm feed on maize, sweet corn, sorghum and sugarcane, and experiences in Queensland have also shown a high preference for feeding on corn, even though wheat, millet and sunflowers were nearby
  • Adult moths are 32 to 40mm in length, wing tip to wing tip, with a brown or grey forewing and a white hind wing. Male fall armyworms have more patterns and a distinct white spot on each of their forewings
  • Eggs are pale yellow in colour and cluster together in a mass, which often contain 100 – 200 eggs per mass. Egg masses are usually attached to foliage with a layer of mould/silk-like furry substance
  • Newly hatched larvae are light coloured with a larger darker head and then develop white stripes lengthwise as the larvae darken and grow to about 34mm in length.

For the latest information on FAW from across Australia:

Agtech Innovators Series 2 Episode 2
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‘Walk a mile in someone's shoes’, is a mantra that also applies when it comes to supporting startups. 

Guy Franklin has walked the path of developing his own tech venture and is now supporting others to do the same. 

Being clear on who your customer is, how big the market is and why this is such a big deal, is some of the advice Guy Franklin provides in this episode of AgTech Innovators. 

Listen online via the AgVic website

Consultation on animal welfare laws extended
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The Victorian Government has extended the consultation period on the draft bill for the new animal care and protection laws.

Victorians now have until Monday 25 March to have their say on the bill – which will replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA Act).

Executive Director of Animal Welfare Victoria, Dr Trevor Pisciotta, said the extension gives interested people and organisations more time to make a submission, following recent extreme weather events.

‘We’ve been committed to engaging with key stakeholders and the Victorian community throughout these reforms – this is the third and final round of consultation.’

‘Regional communities have already strongly influenced the form of the Draft Bill, which will help to maintain the trust of our trading partners, consumers and the community in Victoria’s animal-based activities and industries’, Dr Pisciotta said.

In addition to the three consultation rounds, Agriculture Victoria has consulted with more than 50 organisations representing people involved with animals or with an interest in animals and the law.

The feedback has been carefully considered and contributed to the reform process to date.

Dr Pisciotta said the POCTA Act is nearly 40 years old and does not always reflect current community expectations, developments in animal science or changing industry practices.

‘Demonstrating a high standard of animal welfare is critical in supporting Victorian industries to maintain access to important markets. For most Victorians, there will be no major changes to the way they operate daily.’

‘These laws will strengthen Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food – while being fit-for-purpose for modern day farming practices,' Dr Pisciotta said.

Key changes include minimum standards of care and requirements around husbandry procedures – which already feature in the existing codes of practice and Australian Standards and Guidelines for Animal Welfare.

The proposed laws recognise animal sentience – that animals can have positive and negative experiences.

Being explicit about this won't change how Victorians need to treat their animals, or whether they can be owned or used by humans. It won't create any legal rights for third parties, and it won't give animals legal rights.

Dr Pisciotta encourages interested community members, groups and organisations to make a submission and complete a survey about future regulations.

‘Please visit the Engage Victoria website, where you will find supporting materials to help you make a submission, including a guide to the draft bill and a list of Frequently Asked Questions,’ Dr Pisciotta said.

The consultation is now open until Monday, 25 March.

For more information and to make a submission visit Engage Victoria.

Podcast – On the right track to recovery with Simone Murdoch and Darryl Pearl
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Future planning and controlled traffic farming can help mitigate natural disasters and their long-term effects.

In this After the flood podcast episode, Simone Murdoch chats about how her family made key decisions during a flood by removing emotion from the conversation. 

Darryl Pearl, from Agriculture Victoria, also gives some tips on controlled traffic farming and how it can benefit properties in the long-term.

Listen via the AgVic website

Fox and wild dog bounty resumes
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Victoria’s bounty collections resumed on 4 March.

Please continue to check our website for the latest information, collection centres and dates. CLICK HERE

For any assistance, please speak to our bounty collection staff on collection days or call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

In case you missed it

Churchill Fellowships 2024 are now open

​Churchill Fellowships for 2024 opened on 1 March, offering people the opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks to explore a topic or issue that they’re passionate about, and come back and share knowledge to improve their community.


Citizen scientists hop to it with rabbit virus tracking project

Aussies are urged to join in the longest-running citizen science survey of rabbit diseases in the world, to help keep the costly invasive pest in check.


What's On

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can now be found in one spot on our website.

Log on to to find out what's on.

Today, Tomorrow and Beyond – Genetics Australia Conference
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Where: Monday 18 March - 9:30 am – Tuesday 19 March 4 pm
Where: GMHBA Stadium, 370 Moorabool Street, South Geelong.

Register here.

The conference will host a diverse audience of local and international speakers, farmers, and industry delegates from the dairy and beef sectors.

The theme of the conference centres around the future of cattle breeding, incorporating cutting-edge technologies, and showcasing new industry research and ideas.

Agriculture Victoria Research Director, Professor Jennie Pryce will present on breeding for sustainability and resilience, while Research Scientist Dr Jo Newton will talk on the role of genetic improvement in creating greater integration between our dairy and beef industries.

Information series – Weeds, waste, and invasive species information sessions
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  • Tongala - Tuesday 19 March from 6 - 8 pm, at Tongala Shire Hall
  • Rushworth - Thursday 21 March from 6 - 8 pm at Rushworth Hall.

To register scan the QR code or click here

For more information, contact Elizabeth Alsop on 0457 838 537 or at

Campaspe Shire Flood Recovery Team and Waste and Environment Department in partnership with Agriculture Victoria, North Central Catchment Authority and Goulburn Murray Landcare Network.

Victorian Apiarists Association Recreational Beekeepers Conference
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Successful beekeeping in challenging times

When: 9 March, 9 am - 5 pm
Where: Victorian Croquet Centre, 65 Nobel Banks Dr, Cairnlea

This one-day conference will include live hive demonstrations as well as presentations with an emphasis on meeting the challenges of beekeeping in the presence of varroa.  Book now, places are limited.

Agriculture Victoria apiary team members Nikki Jones and Adam Maxwell will be presenting.

Register here

Young Farmer Network – Ball
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The Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) currently operate five Young Farmer Network groups: Buloke, Quambatook, Loddon, West Wimmera, and Yarriambiack/Hindmarsh.

With the aim to bring forth events for young farmers, and provide educational opportunities and assist in furthering their knowledge in the industry, whilst providing a sense of community and a social outlet.

BCG is extending an invite to this year's Young Farmer Network Ball.

Please don’t be discouraged to attend if you don’t consider yourself ‘young’ or a ‘farmer’.

The Young Farmer Network events are simply targeted at the youngest active generation on farm but is inclusive and open to all including everyone from farmers, those working in the agricultural industry, or those with an interest to learn more and socialise with like-minded people.

Attendees must be at least 18 to attend this event.

The Young Farmer Network Ball is proudly supported by the North West Node of the Vic Hub and the Loddon Shire Council. 

Click here to register

Rochester/Elmore Farm Business Resilience Course - Workshop series
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Want to build a stronger, more productive farm business?

Where: All these face-to-face workshops will be held at Pine Grove Fire Station; 2691 Whinfield Rd, Lockington.

Agriculture Victoria has the workshop series to help you build more resilience in your farm business.

You will leave each workshop with new skills and an action plan to achieve your business goals.

As a bonus, if you attend 3 or more workshops, you will secure a business planning one-on-one session with Senior Agribusiness Consultant Jane Foster from ORM Pty Ltd at the end of the workshop series.

Workshop 1 – Planning for Success
Date: Friday 8 March
Time: 9:30 am – 12 pm

Topic: Join Senior Agribusiness Consultant, Jane Foster, ORM Pty Ltd, for a workshop on identifying and managing risks, strategic planning and setting business goals.

Workshop 2 – Business Success
Date: Thursday 14 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Join Farm Business Economist, Sam Henty, for a workshop on financial management, budgeting and profitable decision making.

Workshop 3 – People Success
Date: Thursday 21 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Dairy Biosecurity and Business Resilience Officer, Helen Chenoweth, will deliver a workshop on managing people on farm, succession planning and farm safety.

Workshop 4 – Climate Risk and Natural Resource Management
Date: Tuesday 26 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Seasonal Risk Agronomist, Dale Grey and Land Management Extension Officer Martin Hamilton, will deliver a workshop on understanding and identifying climate risk and natural resource management on farm.


For more information contact Elizabeth Alsop at or call 0457 838 537.

Joint Ag Vic, Riverine Plains and Towong Shire events
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Corryong - Wednesday, 27 March 10 am
Speakers: Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci), Nick Linden (Agriculture Victoria)

Eskdale Hall - Wednesday, 17 April 9 am
Speakers: Brad Costin (Agriculture Victoria), Lachlan Campbell (NECMA), Julian Carroll (Mudgegonga Beef Producer)

Corryong - Monday, 22 April 10 am
Speakers: Sophie Hanna (Riverine Plains Livestock Officer) and Jane McInnes (Riverine Plains Senior Project Officer)

Registration is free for all events, to register CLICK HERE  

MLA Goat Roadshow Webinar
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Tuesday, 19 March at 7 pm.

Are your goats fit to load? Are you planning to sell goats soon?

Make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities in ensuring animals are fit to travel before you start loading.

This free Meat & Livestock Australia Goat Roadshow webinar is designed to provide useful and practical insights on how to ensure your goats are fit to load before transport.

Hear from NSW DPI's Dr Petrea Wait, Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Berwyn Squire and Integrity Systems Company’s Elizabeth Bradley who will provide who will provide an overview of the Fit to Load legislation, plus on-farm advice for ensuring you meet animal welfare obligations, including the importance of checking animals prior to transport, your responsibilities and how to comply with NVD and NLIS requirements.

MLA invites goat producers to join to find out more on:

  • understanding when an animal is and isn’t fit to make a journey
  • preparing animals for transport
  • Individual roles and responsibilities in ensuring animal welfare
  • practical tips and resources available
  • livestock traceability - understanding LPA requirements around animal welfare, completing NVDs and updating the NLIS database.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities in ensuring compliance with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock.

To register for this webinar, click here

Sheep producers workshop at Boort
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Sheep producers in the Boort area, come and join us and Rochester vet Dr Frankie Collett for a free interactive workshop on Thursday 21 March, from 9 am to 1 pm.

Participants will discuss local health issues, learn about their prevention and treatment options, and create an animal health plan.

An animal health plan is an important tool for farmers to minimise biosecurity risks and increase animal performance.

To find out more or to register contact Erica Schelfhorst on 0429 807 689 or register here  

Playing the long game - Tangambalanga information forum
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Soils workshop at Moranding

Do you want to learn how to use your soil test results to make better farm decisions?

Come along to a field day on improving pastures, soil health and productivity.

A free event featuring presentations and soil pit demonstration.

Thursday, 11 April, 9.30 am - 3 pm (please arrive at 9 am for registrations)

School House Lane and Hogans Lane, Moranding (look out for Landcare signs)

**This event will be held outdoors, please wear enclosed footwear and dress for the conditions**

Guest speakers: Brad Costin (Agriculture Victoria); Lisa Warn (Lisa Warn Ag Consulting); Jim Shovelton (Meridian Agriculture)

  • Find out why we soil test and when to soil test
  • Learn how to read your pastures when taking core samples to know where to test
  • How to set up fertiliser strips to help identify constraints to pasture growth
  • Soil pit and soil interpretation - what grows below 10 cm?
  • Bring your soil test results for a one-on-one chat with a consultant.

Bookings essential - please book your ticket by Thursday 4 April.

Register HERE  

For enquiries please contact Kerri Robson: 0418 140 710 or

Calculating carbon for sheep and beef producers

Join Professor Richard Eckard of the University of Melbourne for a free workshop hosted by Agriculture Victoria to guide you through calculating emissions for your sheep or beef farm.

The workshop will be delivered in a hybrid format for participants to attend in-person or online via Zoom.

Date:    Thursday, 4 April
Time:   9 am – 1 pm
Where: Lakeside Community Centre, Showgrounds, Benalla

Workshop program

  • Why you need to Know your number
  • How carbon accounting works
  • Complete the MLA Carbon Calculator for your farm, learn about key indicators and trouble shoot problems (using your laptop or one supplied)
  • Question and Answer session with Richard and other Agriculture Victoria emissions specialists.

To register please click here

Light refreshments will be provided.

More information - some preparation will be required via supplied information and resources following registration.

For more information, please contact Kirstie Anderson, Project Leader, Innovative Beef and Sheep Networks on 0437 990 967 or

2024 Landcare Forum

The 2024 Landcare forum will be held on Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May in Bendigo.

For more information click here

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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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