AG in Focus Victoria - Autumn 2012
Our cover: Jason Brand in a lentil field
What is AG in Focus Victoria?
AG in Focus Victoria is a quarterly publication produced by Kondinin Group with support from the Department of Primary Industries. AG in Focus Victoria delivers the latest agricultural research and innovation from across the State. The information aims to help primary producers make better choices to increase productivity and profitability.
- Natural algae boosts health benefits of lamb
- Australian citrus exports set to rise
- Giving up water to save
- New pulses offer increased resistance
- Fast flow a time saver
- DPI’s online offering on the increase
- DPI vet joins study tour
Positive start for year looking good for bottom lines
This edition comes on the back of news that Victorian agricultural exports grew 19 per cent last financial year as you’ll see in detail inside.
DPI is active in the field of market access, working with other state agencies and the Federal Government to ensure our farmers have a profitable and sustainable way of selling their produce.
This clearly demonstrates the high demand for - and the high quality of -Victorian food, wine and fibre. It’s a fantastic result for our farming communities and a clear sign we are on the right track.
But what is most pleasing is our exports have increased during an incredibly difficult economic time when the Australian dollar reached parity with the US currency.
The end of the drought and stronger commodity prices, together with new access to the Indian market for Australian dairy farmers are key factors in an exceptionally strong showing for Victorian food and fibre producers.
What’s more, the growth wasn’t just in export ledgers, with a 2010-2011 financial year report on our Livestock Farm Monitor Project Report revealing significantly higher prices being paid to producers as well as improved profitability.
In addition to improved seasonal conditions, this increased profitability can be linked to a whole range of improvement being carried out on Victorian farms.
We should be pleased and positive about the upturn, but those of us who have been around a while know we must always be on the lookout for the next innovation.
This edition provides information on a range of productivity topics, including genetic improvements, biosecurity gains, irrigation strategies and new dietary guidance.
DPI and its partners are working in many and varied fields to continually keep improving results year on year.
As always, I hope you find AG in Focus Victoria an interesting and helpful read.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
News in Brief
DPI scientists help publish world class crop adaptation book
DPI scientist Bob Redden (pictured) is among the editors of a new book — Crop Adaptation to Climate Change.
Dr Redden is the curator of the Australian Temperate Field Crops Collection at Horsham and during his long scientific career he has worked in crop breeding programs in the US, Mexico, Nigeria and Australia.
Articles in Crop Adaptation have come from more than 100 contributors from six continents, providing a wide ranging and in-depth look at the relationship between climate change and crop plants.
DPI scientists, including Garry O’Leary, James Nuttall and Penny Rifkin have also co-authored a case study on regional effects of climate change on wheat crop production in Victoria, while Phil Salisbury co-authored with Martin Barbetti of the University of Western Australia the chapter on genetic adaptation of Brassica oilseed crops to address climate change.
DPI opens soil time capsule in Wimmera
DPI scientists are resampling Wimmera cropping soils first studied in the late 1960s.
DPI soils research scientist Nathan Robinson said the samples were essentially time capsules that captured the soil condition at the time of collection.
“Early results suggest an increase in soil organic carbon since the sites were first sampled as part of the National Soil Fertility Program more than 40 years ago,” Mr Robinson said.
He said the results would help farmers understand how to improve soil health to maintain agricultural productivity.
New online tools set to prevent weed spread
A new code of practice and e-learning program has been developed for the construction industry to help manage weed spread.
The Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) developed the products in partnership with DPI, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, VicRoads and the Association of Land Development Engineers.
DPI director of invasive plants and animals operations, John Balfour, said the project had successfully demonstrated the benefits of industry and government working together.
The code of practice and e-learning program are available from the CCF website: www.civilcontractors.com.
Further information about weeds and machinery hygiene can be found on the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/weeds
Dairy effluent makes for affluence
Applying dairy effluent pond sludge onto pastures can make Victorian dairy farms more productive and profitable, new DPI research has found.
Researchers applied sludge at various rates onto pastures at two dairy farms in south west Victoria and compared results to pasture treated with commercial chemical fertiliser. The sludge used in the research was taken from the bottom of the first effluent pond.
They then measured the amount of extra grass grown and calculated the amount of extra milk produced by the different treatments.
The results showed that sludge was at least as effective — and in some cases more effective — than commercial fertiliser in promoting pasture growth.
Senior DPI research scientist Graeme Ward said using sludge as an alternative to commercial fertiliser was also cost effective and presented farmers with a good return on investment.
Videos show crop responses to future climates
Want to see and hear how researchers are tackling the challenges of heatwaves in cropping areas?
Get on the DPI website and check out the four new videos about the Agricultural Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Project (AGFACE) at Horsham.
AGFACE grows crops under carbon dioxide levels expected to be present in 2050, a technique used globally at more than 30 sites for cropping systems, pastures and forests.
The Horsham site, which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, is researching aspects of crop growth, soil, grain quality and extreme heat impacts for crops grown under higher carbon dioxide levels.