Welcome to the latest Ag Chat newsletter, offering advice, seasonal updates and information for landholders on what is happening at Western LLS across all areas of agriculture. First, let's meet the team:
Gemma Turnbull — Team Leader based in Bourke
Tanisha Shields — Senior Land Services Officer based in Balranald
Claudia Bryant — Land Services Officer based in Broken Hill
Luke Stacey — Senior Land Services Officer based in Buronga.
Max Brownlow — Senior Field Officer based in Broken Hill
See the contact details for the team at the end of this newsletter.
Apply now for the Weed Management Program 2021-22
Landholders and not-for-profit groups that wish to receive financial assistance to undertake targeted weed control measures for weeds are encouraged to submit an EOI in the latest round of the Weed Management Program.
The Program is offering incentive funding for African boxthorn (pictured below) control in Plains-wanderer habitat and Coolibah-Black Box Threatened Ecological Communities. Funding is also available for other priority weeds.
EOIs for the program close on Friday 6 August. Prior to submitting an EOI, please review the guidelines to ensure you're eligible. For further information contact Andrea Cashmere, Senior Land Services Officer, on
0417 050 138 or email@example.com. This project is supported by Western Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program and the NSW Government.
Keeping pace with technology and innovation
As the technology industry continually advances, so too should the efficiency and precision of the agricultural sector. Agricultural technology (Ag Tech) serves to integrate agricultural production from the paddock to the plate, whilst providing stakeholders with resources to make informed decisions and to maximise productivity. Over the coming months, we will investigate different types of Ag Tech that could really improve the functionality of agricultural enterprises in the Western Division.
In the simplest of terms, telemetry is the transmitting of data via wireless communications links. Telemetry is already utilised on most farms, with the use of UHF’s, mobile and sat phones (and the odd digital rain gauge). Whether it be mustering or in the case of an emergency, the ability to connect with co-workers on the farm has simplified operations massively. While there have been many advancements across a range of areas, it is the evolution of water monitoring and management (water telemetry) that looks to truly revolutionise the ways in which agriculturalists can connect with their property.
Businesses such as Goanna Ag, Farmbot and The Alpha Group specialise in the use of sensors to monitor the movement of water. The Alpha Group's cornerstone product is the ‘Leak Detection Unit’. This system connects to the main water meters and provides an SMS and email every morning, alerting the client of the total usage over the previous 24 hours. The Alpha Group can also install systems with tank level, flow in and flow out sensors that show the client how much water is in a tank, how much water has been used, where any leaks are and how the pumps are performing.
Similarly, Farmbot offers an extensive range of monitoring devices allowing the client to check water, diesel and trough levels, as well as rainfall, flow, pressure and the use of a sensor camera that provides on-demand or scheduled images of troughs, dams and tanks etc.
These systems help to improve farm management by reducing manual management and increasing productivity. The consistent, real-time data allows clients to make informed, proactive decisions. For example, when and where there is a pump issue (before it becomes a disaster) and if, when and how much water the stock are drinking. When considering the fuel, labour and vehicle maintenance costs involved in water runs, landholders could save thousands of dollars per year by using water telemetry systems.
For more information on how these systems can help to improve the efficiency of your property, contact a member of the Ag team.
Great to MeatUp in Broken Hill
A number of the Ag team recently took the chance to catch-up with local landholders, stakeholders and industry experts at the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) MeatUp forum.
The forum, which was held in Broken Hill on Wednesday 23 June, was a great success with over 50 people in attendance to hear the latest in red meat research and development. From producers to industry experts, the event provided clear and practical information for all involved to take back to their business.
Some highlights of the program included a market update from MLA General Manager, Michael Crowley, a virtual farm tour by CC Cooper and Co and a presentation on Improving Tactical Decision Making by our very own, Tanisha Shields — well done Tanisha.
Click here to visit the MLA website and view these highlights and others from the forum. Also, on the website, you will find links to practical resources and MLA adoption programs expanding on the day's topics.
Pictured are Ag team members Max, Claudia and Tanisha, and Tanisha giving her presentation.
Tipping the scales between livestock and pasture production
The goal of grazing management for improved pasture productivity is finding the balance between livestock production and pasture production. Landholders need to ensure they are managing their livestock to avoid overgrazing the more palatable species.
Recruitment of the next generation is a key step in the lifecycle of all pasture species, in particular perennials. It is also the stage where plants are most susceptible to grazing.
The goal of grazing management at this stage of a plant's lifecycle is to allow plants to develop an effective root system before they are grazed. Strategic rest of pastures at this time is a strategy that can be used.
This is important as it is possible for recruitment to be completely curtailed while the adult plants are unaffected by grazing. This means you may not notice the impact of grazing on the perennials in the pasture for a long time.
To learn more about grazing management and decision making, contact a member of the Ag team.
Looking at pasture — Mulka
Mulka (eragrostis dielsii), also known as Mallee love grass, is an annual, short lived perennial grass commonly found in a variety of soils with a preference for light grey clay. It often grows in areas of high salinity and seasonally flooded areas such as lake beds. It is common in the Mallee and light soiled blue bush country.
Mulka is a tufted grass that grows along the ground with branched and prostrate stems growing up to 60 cm high. The leaves are hairless, flat or in-rolled to 8 cm long and 3.5 mm wide. The flower-heads have a distinctive shake with a few short branches or occasionally reduced to a spike (see photos). The flowers may be brownish, purplish, pinkish or reddish green in colour.
Mulka grass flowers and fruits year round with most growth occurring in summer. It is a valuable species for binding the soil and producers' large amounts of palatable moderate quality forage.
For further information on Mulka or another plant species, contact a member of the Ag team.
Business EDGE coming to Broken Hill
The Business EDGE workshop will teach participants the process of understanding the financial side of your business. The two-day sessions include participant interaction, group discussions, presentations and regular breaks, with all catering provided.
Households and small businesses impacted by the mouse plague across regional NSW can now claim rebates — households can claim up to $500 and small businesses up to $1,000 — to help cover the cost of mouse baits, traps and cleaning materials purchased after 1 February, 2021. Primary producers who live where they work will be able to claim a single rebate of $1,000 to help meet the cost of protecting their premises.Click here to access the Service NSW website to find out if you qualify and to make a claim.
Meanwhile, primary producers experiencing financial hardship due to mice will be able to claim a 50 per cent rebate on purchases of zinc phosphide, up to $10,000, through the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA). The Department of Regional NSW and RAA are developing the rebate framework, including how primary producers will be able to claim and the eligibility criteria. Click here for more information and updates on this program.
Register now for the RCS Grazing Clinic in Bourke, 14-16 Sept
Landholders are encouraged to attend a two and a half day hands-on workshop where they will develop their skills as a grass manager, and return home with the practical know-how to immediately begin implementing what they learn. The workshop covers the principles and practices of grazing management, including how to design and manage a grazing cell and how to use grazing charts as a planning and decision making tool.
Information sessions on conservation tenders move online
Due to the current restrictions associated with COVID-19, the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) have had to cancel all face-to-face information sessions. An online session will be held on Thursday 29 July. Click here to register for the sessionand for further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 992 688.
Agribusiness coaching sessions — final call for applications
Agribusiness coaching applications are open for the Farm Business Resilience Program. The program involves fortnightly coaching, face to face meetings and farm tours with expert coaches. Click here to apply and get further information. Applications close 31 July.
Until next time...
Thanks for reading this newsletter. We encourage you to save the contact details for Gemma, Tanisha, Claudia, Luke and Max and feel comfortable to contact them if you have any questions about your enterprise from an agricultural perspective.
The Ag team is always working to bring projects, events and information that is current and relevant to all landholders in the Western region. This can be in the form of face to face events, online webinars, fact sheets, case studies, newsletter articles and social media updates. If there are any topics you want covered or questions answered in the next edition of Ag Chat, simply hit reply or contact one of the team.