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.
Showcasing technology in the Western region (webinar)
Join us for a webinar with Phil Tickle from Cibo Labs and David Ward from Goanna Ag presenting on how technology can be used in the pastoral zone.
Phil will introduce you to the Cibo Labs PastureKey service which combines world-leading satellite remote sensing and data science with on-farm knowledge to estimate feed supply for every hectare. The service also monitors changes in the feed base and land condition on a weekly basis.
David will introduce you to Goanna Ag's water management technology which is allowing landholders and their properties to communicate with each other like never before. Just imagine the advantages if your property could talk to you and you could understand what it was saying.
You are encouraged to send in any questions for Phil or David prior to the webinar, and to register even if you're unable to attend the session to have the recording emailed directly to you.
Farming forum on mice (webinar)
Join key farming, research and industry players to get the latest information and advice to assist you manage a spring surge in mouse numbers.
Mouse activity in regional NSW is expected to increase this spring as the population increases from an unusually high base number established during favourable conditions prior to winter.
A shared understanding of the likely level of financial and operational risk to farming businesses from high mouse numbers will help ensure a coordinated approach from government, primary industries and bait suppliers to maximise opportunities for proactive farm management.
The forum is open to everyone and will bring together scientists and experts from the CSIRO, Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Grain Producers Australia and the NSW Farmers Association. Image: NSW DPI archives.
Reports of 'Pizzle Rot' received, landholders to be on the lookout
Western LLS has received reports of Ulcerative Posthitis (commonly known as 'Pizzle Rot') of rams in certain areas of the region. This is a condition that affects the prepuce of wethers (and sometimes in rams), causing severe irritation and ulceration of the skin.
The debris from the ulcer can form a crust which may block the opening to the prepuce, affecting a ram's desire and ability to mate.
Pizzle Rot is caused by multiple factors including the presence of a urease producing bacteria, high protein diets and inadequate testosterone levels. Landholders seeing this issue should contact their local Western LLS district vet or their private vet.
Our district vets would appreciate hearing from any affected producers to complete a brief survey to assist in increasing their understanding and targeting assistance with this significant production issue.
A familiar nuisance to the Western region is the very resilient African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum). Brought to Australia from South Africa in the mid-1800s as a hedge plant, this weed has spread from around old homesteads and urban areas. The woody, thorny shrub has fleshy green oval shaped leaves and grows to 5 m high and 3 m wide very quickly. Its seeds are spread primarily by animals and can germinate at any time during the year.
Why is it a problem?
African Boxthorn poses many threats to agricultural production in the Western region. African Boxthorn:
has large thorns which can injure livestock
forms impenetrable, spiny thickets that block access for vehicles, livestock and people
invades pastures, roadsides, reserves, remnant bushland and waterways
provides shelter and food for pest animals including foxes and rabbits
prevents livestock from accessing shade
is poisonous to humans
is a host for pest insects including fruit fly, tomato fly and house fly.
What to do?
The Western Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan has identified the African Boxthorn as having the priority weeds objective of "asset protection". This means that this weed is widely distributed throughout the Western region and thus its spread should be minimised to protect priority assets (e.g. riparian areas or waterways). In order to comply with their General Biosecurity Duty, all landholders with African Boxthorn present on their property must:
mitigate the risk of the plant spreading from their land
reduce the impact of plant on priority assets.
African Boxthorn can be managed by a variety of control methods. The control program for African Boxthorn will depend on the size of the infestation. For more information on this weed, visit the NSW DPI website.
To discuss the options for controlling this weed on your property contact a member of the Ag team.
Carbon Neutral 2030 Grazier Network
Registrations are now open for the Carbon Neutral 2030 Grazier Network. The network will provide the latest tips and information on positioning your business to take advantage of the rapidly evolving world of environmental markets and certification schemes. Group members will be encouraged to share their experiences, ask questions and learn from each other’s experiences.
What’s in it for you?
the latest on targeted research helping to cement the foundations for graziers to participate in globally recognised environmental markets
resources to help position your business to become ‘low carbon’ or ‘carbon neutral’
have your questions about environmental markets answered
learn about other graziers’ experiences
the opportunity to participate in data collection to support the development of remote sensing tools and technologies in your region.
How to apply
For more information, or to apply to be part of the Carbon Neutral 2030 Grazier Network follow the links below.
Set ewes up for success through a lifetime ewe management course
Sheep producers wanting to gain skills and confidence to manage ewe reproduction and increase profitability in their enterprise are being encouraged to join a group of like-minded farmers in their local area to participate in a Lifetime Ewe Management course, something that Western LLS is now accredited to deliver.
The course is ideally suited to small groups of five to seven participants who, along with an experienced sheep consultant, meet six times over a 12 month period to cover a number of topics including:
learning how to condition score
preparing ewes for joining
managing singles and twin-bearing ewes at different stages of their reproductive cycle
assessing pasture and calculate supplementary feeding rates
setting up lambing paddocks
forming weaning strategies to maximise weaner survival
setting targets for condition score, conception, lamb survival, ewe mortality, lamb growth rate and feed on offer.
The cost of the course is $2,400 plus GST per participant, however the Australian Wool Innovation offers eligible wool growers a subsidy of $1,000 which all eligible producers are encouraged to access. Producers interested in forming a group in their local area or finding more about the course should contact Tanisha.
Looking at pastures — Woollybutt grass
Woollybutt grass (eragrostis eriopoda) is a densely tufted perennial that can grow up to 40 cm tall with a bulbous woolly base. The many stems are branched with hairless nodes and 9–20 cm long seed heads that have a purple tinge. The seeds on the seed head are in spikes 1–2 cm long and contain up to 20 paired seeds.
Woollybutt grass is a desirable species that can be found on a variety of soil types across the Western region and is moderately palatable, which is dependent on its environment and grazing management.
It is a desirable species due to it being a perennial that can provide dense, long lasting groundcover and producing a large amount of seed and biomass. The presence of perennials in pastures increases groundcover, reduces erosion and creates conditions that improve pasture quality and reliability.
When managing Woollybutt grass, producers should be mindful to be utilising approximately 30 per cent of the foliage (70 per cent remaining) at each graze followed by a rest period to allow recovery. Perennial grasses can survive grazes below this level in good seasons but their capacity to withstand drought will be reduced and population can decline significantly.
Woollybutt grass in the region has declined over time due to it having a slow response to overgrazing and prolonged dry periods. The loss of Woollybutt grass is a problem as it is the key perennial species in some land types that are now relying on low quality annuals for stock feed and groundcover that is leading to lowered production and degradation of the landscape.
For more information on managing and increasing perennials in pasture please contact a member of the Ag team or attend a Tactical Grazing Management workshop.
Technology in Ag — Software
Farm management software is a very useful emerging branch of AgTech that is revolutionising the way that producers keep records and make on-farm decisions. By inputting information into farm management software, as opposed to keeping traditional records, producers can make data-driven decisions, forecasts and budgets with far more accuracy and reliability.
Two very popular and dependable Agricultural software’s that Western LLS can assist landholders to get set up are AgriWebb and MaiaGrazing.
AgriWebb is a farm management software/app that provides producers with a holistic view of their operation. The user can link their business goals, mobs and individuals in one easy package, as well as managing their day-to-day operations with GPS enabled tasks.
The interactive AgriWebb farm map allows the user to manage their farm visually and mitigate the risk of over/under grazing their land. This app simplifies audit and compliance considerations, farm inventory management (real-time stock levels, including batch numbers and expiry dates), pasture management and helps to expose trends hindering target weight goals.
MaiaGrazing is another software/app that helps producers increase production and minimise cost and risk. MaiaGrazing uses your data to generate algorithms to determine optimal stocking rates, scenario-based forecasts, dynamic grazing charts, grazing plans and feed budgets. All of which is delivered to the user in a simple and easy to understand format.
Producers can use this tool to track upcoming moves of stock in accordance with a grazing plan, as well as having access to summaries of current herd locations, days in paddock, paddock rest days and feed taken so far.
For a better understanding of the endless ways these products can help your business, visit their websites or contact a member of the Ag team.
In case you missed it
During the week our very own Tanisha Shields was successful in taking out the Young Achiever award at the 2021 Southern Australia Livestock Research Council (SALRC) awards. Tanisha won the award for her demonstrated achievement in the Australian red meat and livestock industry which is great recognition for the wonderful job she is doing. On behalf of the entire Western LLS team we'd like to congratulate Tanisha! To find out more about SALRC and the awards visit their website - www.salrc.com.au.
Reminder: Join a local grazing group and grow your capacity
Unfortunately, the drone workshops scheduled in Cobar, Bourke and Tilpa at the end of October have been postponed. For the landholders that had returned registrations, they will be contacted when the new dates and details of the workshops are confirmed. To find out more contact Claudia.
Reminder: Rebates available for those impacted by the NSW mouse plague
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.