INNOVATIVE FARMING SYSTEM METHODOLOGIES AND TECHNOLOGIES GROWERS TOUR, ESPERANCE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Commencement date

September 2017

Completion date

September 2017

Aim

This project aims to investigate the innovation and new technology adopted in farming systems in the Esperance Port zone, Western Australia (WA).

Funding Provider

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Project lead organisation

Collaborators

Liebe Group, GRDC, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA), South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA), and local growers

Project background

Over the last 20 years, growers in the Liebe Group region have experienced numerous below average rainfall seasons including four severe droughts. The current 2017 growing season has experienced an extremely dry start, with many growers in the region having reduced their seeding programs and enduring a large amount of uncertainty on the potential outcomes of their crops this year. To remain profitable, it is important to identify that achieving sustainable farming systems in an increasingly volatile climate requires strategic and proactive research and development (R&D).

The Liebe Group, through consultation with local growers, have identified that a tour to the Esperance region would be beneficial due to the similarities in the scale of operations in both regions, the current R&D in the region that aligns to local priorities, and the innovation and uptake of new technology that Esperance growers are renowned for. Participants through this operation would be offered learning opportunities that broaden their scope of thinking, and the ability to use new knowledge in adapting and improving their own farming enterprises.

The study tour will explore the following learning objectives, all of which are driven by local R&D priorities.

An improved understanding of precision agronomics (PA) including controlled traffic farming.

Together with a local PA consultant, growers will experience on ground application of technologies being adopted by growers in the Esperance region. This will include the current work being carried out by SEPWA which investigates new decision making support tools.

Increased knowledge on management strategies for non-wetting soils.

The current work being conducted in the Esperance region in non-wetting soils and sub-soil constraints aligns with the research in the Liebe area including the GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) LIE0010 Non-wetting project. This area of learning will be supported by field walks to GRDC, DAFWA, and SEPWA affiliated trials that reinforce the objectives and outcomes of local research.

Increased awareness and willingness to adopt new technologies through connection with innovative growers from an alternative region.

With the increase in scale of operations of WA farms, growers are required to more effectively manage their time and resources by becoming more innovative and thinking outside the square. Liebe Group members have highlighted the importance of continuing to seek innovation and to be ahead of the curve. The tour will include farm visits to Esperance growers who are applying new ideas and adapting the norm to create new efficiencies across multiple areas of their business.

Encouragement to think outside the box and learn from diversified businesses.

The Esperance region showcases a range of businesses who are seeking to achieve market access and security through diversification. A tour of the CBH terminal, will provide an understanding of Interflour and Intermalt, and give growers an insight to commodity logistics and management beyond the farm gate. The Lucky Bay Brewing story will show the success in identifying niche markets and alternative uses for common commodities.

The proposed activities will provide a broader perspective for our local farmers on how to surpass the barriers that the gap in knowledge and technology has previously hindered. Upon returning home the growers will have new ideas and understanding of alternative practices or information that are relevant to their farming system. This will allow others in the grower community to subsequently benefit from the success that is found from using the new techniques, as they will be able to acquire this knowledge from the local farming community and implement it as well.

Results and Reports

This project was funded by GRDC.

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