Dec 08

Harvest fatigue tips and information

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Friday, December 08, 2017

Roads and Maritime Services are issuing a reminder to farmers and grain transporters this harvest to take care and avoid driving tired.

When we talk about driver fatigue we are talking about driving tired and fatigue-related crashes can happen on any trip no matter how long or short or what time of day. It’s important to think about how tired you are before driving, recognise the early warning signs when driving and know what to do to avoid driving tired.

Did you know?
• Fatigue is one of the big three killers on NSW roads
• Fatigue-related crashes are twice as likely to be fatal - drivers who are asleep can't brake
• Being awake for about 17 hours has a similar effect on performance as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05
Beware of driver fatigue this harvest…

We understand due to the threat of weather, the pressure of rapidly ripening crops and the cost of machinery and contractors, farmers have a tight window for harvesting to ensure they get the best possible returns for their business but don’t let this compromise safety…

Be alert to the warning signs of driver fatigue:
• Yawning
• Poor concentration
• Sore/tired eyes
• Restlessness
• Drowsiness
• Slow reactions
• Boredom
• Oversteering 

Here are some tips for avoiding driver fatigue:
• Get a good night’s sleep first
• Avoid driving at night or when you’d normally be asleep
• Try out
• Arrange a buddy to share the driving
• Plan regular breaks in your trip
• If you feel tired pull over for a break in a safe place (suggest 20 minutes)
• Stop for a coffee/energy drink – but caffeine won‘t help for long and it won't work for everyone
There is only one cure for fatigue. It’s sleep.

More information:

Oct 23

RCSN hosts open meetings for grain growers

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Monday, October 23, 2017

Grain growers in southern New South Wales are being encouraged to share their production challenges and opportunities through a series of open meetings, which are part of a new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) initiative.
The GRDC recently established a Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) in southern NSW co-ordinated by Wagga Wagga based consultant Chris Minehan.
The role of the RCSN is to consult with growers and industry stakeholders to identify and understand major grain production constraints and opportunities faced by growers across the region.
Mr Minehan said a series of open meetings had already been held across southern NSW and more were organised for Beckom, Marrar and Greenethorpe this month.
“The role of the RCSN is to ensure local issues and farming systems are considered when the GRDC sets research priorities with the aim of improving farm profitability,” he said.
“These initial open meetings are about explaining how the network operates and its role within GRDC, so it is really about starting what will be an on-going, two-way conversation between growers and the GRDC.
“We want growers to share with us what gets them up in the morning and what keeps them awake at night, so the things that excite them about the grains industry, plus those issues they are concerned about.”
Mr Minehan said the southern NSW RCSN would hold at least 10 open meetings throughout the region every year to liaise with growers and gather vital intelligence about future grains research needs, as well as share research outcomes.
“Information gathered through these meetings will help inform the future direction of GRDC investments into locally-relevant research, development and extension with the aim of delivering deliver paddock-ready solutions to production challenges across southern NSW,” Mr Minehan said.
Growers, consultants and industry stakeholders are invited to open meetings at:
• Marrar, 24 October, 9am – midday (including lunch)
• Greenethorpe, 27 October, 4pm – 7pm (including dinner)
For more information or to RSVP contact Chris Minehan, Rural Management Strategies, 0427 213 660 or

Oct 12

Can you help improve animal monitoring?

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Thursday, October 12, 2017

Can you help researchers in a study that aims to build farmer-led partnerships to improve animal health monitoring?
Participation involves the completion of an online questionnaire (around 30 minutes) that includes questions on animal health monitoring, preferred communication methods and information sources.
Researchers from Charles Sturt University, Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences and CSIRO are working on this study as part of a Rural Research and Development for Profit project* aimed at improving surveillance, preparedness and return to trade from emergency animal disease incursions using Foot and Mouth disease as a model.
Thanks are extended to anyone who has already taken part in this survey. The contribution to this project is very much appreciated. If you have not, the survey will be open until October 20 and researchers would love to hear from you.
You will not be identified in any reports produces and will have the opportunity to go into a prize draw to win a $50 retail gift voucher.
Follow the link to participate …

*This project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme, and by producer levies from Australian FMD-susceptible livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) industries and Charles Sturt University, leveraging significant in-kind support from the research partners.
The research partners for this project are the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Charles Sturt University (CSU), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

Sep 06

$1.8 million infrastructure grant for TAIC

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, September 06, 2017

An investment of more than $1.8 million will help to drought proof field trials for cereals, oilseeds and pulses in southern New South Wales, underpinning investment in research, development and extension (RD&E) in the region.
The Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre (TAIC) is a community owned research farm with soils and an environment typical of more than half the state’s grain producing area.
Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Chairman John Woods announced on Friday, September 1 the GRDC Grains Research and Development (R&D) Infrastructure Grant to FarmLink Research Limited, which manages the site for Temora Shire Council.
“There are currently 17 private and public organisations conducting RD&E at TAIC, which attracts more than 3000 visitors a year,” Mr Woods said.
“The project will see the construction of a 100 megalitre dam with the capacity to irrigate 100 hectares of trials. It will also upgrade administrative and sample processing facilities; and build a machinery shed to accommodate increased trial and farm equipment and allow for machinery, technology and other agricultural training activities.
“Our RD&E partners need good infrastructure and the right tools to help GRDC to deliver on its purpose of investing in RD&E to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
“Dow AgroSciences is committed to centring their wheat breeding at TAIC and is making substantial additional investment,” he said.
FarmLink Chairman Darryl Harper said enhancing the capacity of TAIC to deliver innovation will benefit grain growers across southern NSW.
“Delivering locally relevant innovation, locally, is core to the operation of FarmLink, so making the most out of the resource at TAIC is just good sense,” Mr Harper said.
“FarmLink was established by local growers and researchers to deliver long term productivity, profitability and sustainability, through innovation. We are proud to be continuing and building on that history.”
Temora Shire Council will make a cash and in-kind investment of $444,000 towards the project.
Temora Shire Mayor, Rick Firman, said the Council is proud to be custodian of the site of significant advances in agricultural production.
“Over its 100 year history, the centre has developed new wheat, oats and barley varieties, along with a range of new farming practices,” he said.
“While the research benefits growers across the whole region – not just Temora Shire – the Temora Shire benefits not only through increased agricultural production but also through the significant research investment and visitor dollars that are attracted by FarmLink.
“We are very pleased to work with GRDC to develop infrastructure at TAIC that will further enhance the value and relevance of the activities at the centre.”
The $1,822,792 GRDC Grains R&D Infrastructure Grant is part of $15 million the GRDC Board had agreed to invest in a strategy to build national research capacity.
The purpose of the grant program is to boost capacity and capability in Australian grain research and development through funding key infrastructure, and to create enduring profitability for grain growers.

Jul 21

Resistant Wild Radish common in Southern NSW

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Friday, July 21, 2017

Herbicide resistance in wild radish and other broadleaf weed populations is often considered a Western Australian issue, globally regarded as the home of resistant weeds.
While in Eastern States the focus of herbicide resistance has been on grasses such as annual ryegrass, there are trends that mirror the development of broadleaf weed resistance to herbicides in WA.
In 2017, the Crop Science division of Bayer sponsored random resistance testing of wild radish populations across Southern NSW. In total, 20 wild radish samples were collected. Peter
Boutsalis from Plant Science Consulting in Adelaide tested these for herbicide resistance. A number of FarmLink members were involved in the survey after a call went out via the eLink in late 2016. The samples were taken from locations within a 200-kilometre radius around Wagga Wagga and included locations near Young, Barellan, Lockhart, Culcairn and Junee.
Growers who participated in the testing could test against up to 4 different herbicide modes of action.

As a result of the survey, Bayer has compiled a technical note on Resistant Wild Radish, which can be downloaded as a .pdf

Resistant Wild Radish - Bayer technical note 2017

Jun 21

2017's mixed bag for canola disease

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Season 2017 is producing mixed fortunes in terms of canola diseases for growers in the southern cropping region.
While the risk of blackleg disease has reduced with the lack of consistent rainfall in many parts of the region, there has been an increased incidence of canola white leaf spot.
Growers of canola are therefore being advised to take a considered approach to disease management this year.
Oilseeds disease expert Dr Steve Marcroft, who undertakes research through a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment, says seasonal conditions have so far not been conducive to the severe development of the blackleg fungus.
“Blackleg likes continual wet conditions for spore release and germination, which is why blackleg severity on seedlings was so high in 2016,” says Dr Marcroft, of Marcroft Grains Pathology.
“In contrast, a large area of southern Australia has received rainfall in only a couple of major rain events, and conditions have remained dry between these events. Consequently, blackleg lesions are only starting to occur now.”
Dr Marcroft advises that if crops are already past the vulnerable seeding stage (1-4 leaf) and have no or few lesions, these crops most likely will not develop severe crown canker and therefore may not benefit from a foliar fungicide application.
“However, if a crop was sown later, has a moderately susceptible (MS) or lower blackleg rating and is currently still in the vulnerable seedling stage, it may develop severe crown canker and therefore benefit from a foliar fungicide application,” Dr Marcroft says.
“Growers should monitor crops for blackleg lesions on the first four leaves, estimate the potential crop yield and decide if it economical to protect the crop.
“Foliar fungicide has the highest efficacy against blackleg crown canker if applied at the 4-6 leaf stage, but is still very effective up to the 8-9 leaf stage.
“If growers are unsure about the blackleg severity on their crop and the potential yield, they can wait until the 8-9 leaf growth stage and then make a disease management decision.”
Meanwhile, Dr Marcroft says an increased incidence of canola white leaf spot has occurred in many parts of southern Australia this season.
“The disease is distributed worldwide, but in Australia it is not usually severe enough to cause yield loss. However, if environmental conditions are favourable, it can result in significant defoliation, causing reduced plant vigour and subsequent yield loss.
“White leaf spot is not usually severe enough to warrant fungicide control.”
White leaf spot normally only occurs on oldest leaves near the soil surface. Occasionally it is observed moving up the canopy, infecting younger leaves and reducing the leaf area significantly – this is when yield loss may occur. It is not currently well understood why it can occasionally become more severe in individual regions and seasons.
Nutrient-deficient canola crops can be more severely affected by the disease.
The symptoms of white leaf spot are leaf and stem lesions that are greyish white to light brown. Leaf lesions can be up to one centimetre in diameter and coalesce to form large irregular-shaped lesions.
Mature lesions often have a brown margin. White leaf spot lesions do not contain pycnidia (black dots) which are characteristic of blackleg.
Beyond this growing season, Dr Marcroft encourages an integrated approach to managing white leaf spot. This involves controlling cruciferous weeds and volunteer canola, employing strategic crop rotations and reducing infection from wind-borne spores by not sowing near the previous year’s canola stubble (both the white leaf spot and blackleg fungus survive on canola stubble).
The disease is not usually seed-borne, but it can spread by infected seeds or infected debris with the seed.
Comprehensive information on management of white leaf spot, blackleg and other canola diseases can be found in the GRDC’s Diseases of Canola and Their Management: The Back Pocket Guide, which can be viewed and downloaded via
Further information specific to blackleg disease can be found in the GRDC’s Blackleg Management Guide,

Image S Marcroft

Jun 21

Eradicating lupin anthracnose

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NSW Lupin anthracnose update
Rachel Taylor-Hukins, grains biosecurity officer, NSW DPI

In October 2016 lupin anthracnose was detected for the first time in commercial crops in NSW in the eastern Riverina region. Natural hosts of lupin anthracnose are not established in NSW and as the infected crops were relatively isolated, successful eradication of the disease was considered possible and an eradication program is now in place.
The lupin anthracnose biosecurity zone (LABZ), encompasses the Local Government Areas in entirety of Cootamundra/Gundagai, Junee and Coolamon and has special conditions including restrictions on the growing and sale of certain lupins within the zone. Within the LABZ the following conditions apply:

1. Ornamental lupins must not be grown across the zone for two years;
2. Weed (volunteer) lupins must be controlled (destroyed) across the zone for two years;
3. Lupin crops cannot be grown on a property with a boundary within 1 km of a known infected property for two years (all properties affected by this rule have been notified by NSW DPI);
4. Lupin seed present on a property with a boundary within 1 km of the boundary of an infected property must not be planted or kept for planting (all properties affected by this rule have been notified by NSW DPI).

There are no restrictions on growing lupins outside of the lupin anthracnose biosecurity zone.
Lupin anthracnose threatens the viability and future of NSW’s lupin industry. Growers and agronomists are strongly encouraged to be vigilant this season, familiarising themselves with symptoms and inspecting crops at least once every 6 weeks. Although symptoms more commonly appear around flowering, seedling infections can still occur.
The most obvious symptom is bending and twisting of stems at the site of a lesion (forming a shepherds crook) which is particularly noticeable when the crop is flowering. Oval shaped lesions on stems contain a beige pink spore mass with an oozy appearance. If infection occurs early in the season lesions can be found on seedlings.
A five point management plan is recommended for all lupin producers in NSW to prevent establishment and spread of the disease.
1. Treat seed for sowing with a fungicide seed treatment containing thiram
2. Separate this year’s lupin crop away from last year’s lupin stubble
3. Control volunteer lupins on your property
4. Control machinery and people movement into and out of lupin crops
5. Apply a foliar fungicide at 6-8 weeks post emergence (with a grass herbicide if suitable) using fungicides containing mancozeb, chlorothalonil or azoxystrobin, and a follow up at pre-canopy closure.

Reporting and Sampling
Lupin anthracnose is a notifiable disease in NSW, and any suspected infected crops must be reported. 
Call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 or email clear photos with a brief explanation and contact details to:

Alternatively samples can be sent by following these instructions:
• Sample plants that show unusual symptoms
• Wrap the plants in damp (not wet) paper towel and seal in both a plastic container and ziplock bag, or two ziplock bags

• Send the sample by express post early in the week. A cold pack is not needed
Send samples to:
Dr Kurt Lindbeck
NSW DPI, Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute,
Pine Gully Road, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
Phone: 02 6938 1608

Anyone involved in the production of lupins in NSW, including (but not limited to) growers, agronomists and contractors, have a responsibility under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to put in place measures to prevent, eliminate or minimise biosecurity risks, including the obligation to report unusual and notifiable pests and diseases.

For more information on lupin anthracnose:
For more information on the Biosecurity Act 2015:

Image by Kurt Lindebeck, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Jun 13

Winter Bus Tour heads interstate

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The FarmLink Winter Bus Tour is back with a bang this year, and we're heading interstate!
There've been a lot of people commenting they really valued the bus trips which, in past years visited regions further afield to learn about different strategies for managing similar issues, innovations and ideas.
So, we're off to Victoria on August 7, visiting Birchip, Manangatang and Swan Hill regions - learning about Profitable Pulse Production, Alternative Harvest Weed Seed Management, Soil Moisture Management and Successful Integration of Cropping and Livestock - before returning home on August 9. Cost is $500 per person, including accommodation, meals and transport. If you'd like a seat on the bus, please email us on or give us a call on (02) 6980 1333.

May 11

Guest speaker for Annual Dinner

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Thursday, May 11, 2017

One of the driving forces behind a fully integrated oilseed crushing, refining and packaging operation located at Manildra in the central west of New South Wales will share his farming, business and life experiences with guests at the FarmLink Annual Dinner on Friday, July 28.
Peter Mac Smith of MSM Milling left school in 1980 and returned to the family farm at Cudal which had been in the family since the 1850s.
Peter started out at Hawkesbury Ag College in 1983, but never finished, and in 1984 joined his brother to purchase their uncle’s farm. Peter admits their timing was horrendous as the US and the EU started a trade war which saw wheat prices drop below $100 tonne, and interest rates soar to 17-18%.
Wanting to find a way to value add to his farm production, Peter and his brother looked into canola crushing.
“We managed to claw our way through that period and in 1992 we started Australian Country Canola which over the last 25 years has grown from 300 tonnes in year 1 to over 100,000 tonnes now, we export oil, meal and stockfeeds to over 10 countries and employ around 65 people on site at Manildra,” Peter explains.
“The business has three distinct units, crushing and refining, Manildra Packing which assembles 20 litre steel drums and packs oil in drums and BIB and Manildra Stockfeeds which produces a range of feeds for domestic and export customers.”
On a personal note, Peter is married to Sarah and they have three children, Georgie and Sophie at university and Hamish, who is in Year 11.
Peter’s story will fit perfectly with FarmLink’s continuing theme of country hospitality which proved such a success last year as guests gathered for a celebration of regional agriculture. The dinner to be held at Bectric Hall, dinner served by Michele Seymour and entertainment by Josh McKellar. Bus transport will also be available.

Eventbrite - FarmLink Annual Dinner

Apr 12

Country hospitality for Annual Dinner

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, April 12, 2017

FarmLink is continuing on the country hospitality focus for its Annual Dinner, after last year's successful social event. From Marrar in 2016, we're moving over to Bectric Hall on July 28, 2017 for a celebration of agriculture and its people throughout Southern New South Wales.

Further details, including the announcement of a guest speaker will be released closer to the date.