Jan 10

FarmLink project portfolio growing

Posted by Kylie Dunstan at Friday, January 10, 2020

The following article appeared in the Summer 2019 edition of the FarmLink quarterly member-exclusive publication The Link (archives appear at

FarmLink is developing, pursuing and managing projects covering a range of activities relevant to mixed farming in Southern NSW and beyond. Just like our industry, our project portfolio is ever changing in response to the needs of agriculture and its future sustainability. The following is a list of all ongoing FarmLink projects, those that are in the pipeline, and those that were recently completed.
Ongoing projects
Technology & Tools Connecting Farmers to their Soils
In this project, innovative soil moisture sensors linked to auto-weather stations will be installed on five farms and networked to transmit data over two cropping seasons. It will demonstrate how understanding the sensors and the data they produce can support on-farm decision-making, and assess the economics of adoption.
Funded through the National Landcare Program.
Utilising new technologies to optimise nitrogen use in broadacre cropping, protect the soil resource and minimise potential offsite impacts
This project seeks to quantify nitrogen variability within broadacre cropping in southern NSW using intensive grid deep N sampling. It will also examine existing and emerging technologies to inform Variable Rate (VR) N applications, to help with better N management, and improved profitability and sustainability.
Funded through the National Landcare Program.
Towards best practice site-specific mapping, prevention and treatment of subsurface acidity in southern NSW
Current liming practices are failing to prevent soil acidification through the profile and within-paddock variability of surface pH is high throughout the region.
By surveying a variety of soil types, rainfall regimes and management histories, this project will assess both the vertical and lateral variability of pH, to develop decision support methods for best-practice Variable Rate lime application.
Funded through the National Landcare Program.
Pulse Check – Local Extension and Communication for Profitable Pulse Production
Growers and advisors within the southern region will be trained in pulse agronomy, production risks and management strategies. The project aims to unlock the potential farming system and financial benefits of pulse crops through targeted expansion of lentils and chickpeas into new areas, and sustainable intensification of pulse crop production in existing areas.
Funded by GRDC.
Innovative Approaches to Managing Subsoil Acidity in the Southern Grain Region
This collaborative project will analyse aggressive amelioration options for soil acidity at depths of 10-30cm in high rainfall zones. The practice of surface liming will be compared to three intensive management options; deep ripping to 30cm, ripping plus lime at 10-30cm and ripping plus organic ameliorant at 10-30cm.
Funded by GRDC.
Exclusion Feeding for Lambs in Drought
This project investigates whether lambs with exclusive access to grain via an exclusion feeding system gain weight quicker than lambs sharing access to grain with ewes. It will also examine whether the exclusion-fed lambs have a more efficient conversion rate and whether grain consumption costs are reduced.
Funded by MLA.
Mechanistic Understanding of Mode of Action of Soil Re-Engineering Methods for Complex Soil Constraints
Soils often exhibit multiple constraints limiting their productivity. This collaborative project will examine soil re-engineering mechanisms to ameliorate complex soil constraints. FarmLink will identify problematic soils within our region and provide advice. Grower groups will also have a communication role.
Funded through the Soil CRC.
Impact of Nitrogen Application Timing on Bread Wheat Protein Composition, Quality and End Use Functionality
This project is a partnership between FarmLink, Allied-Pinnacle (milling, baking and ingredients) and Arytza (bakery and food-service company). It aims to increase grower knowledge around the end products of wheat production, and end-users’ knowledge around drivers for farmer decisions that influence wheat quality.
Funded by Allied Pinnacle and Aryzta.
Smelling Soil: Novel Electronic Noses for Mobile In-Field Determining of Microbial Health, Function and Resistance
Healthy soil microbial communities are essential for resilient soils, however there is a lack of rapid in-field testing techniques. This project aims to develop an ‘eNose’ tool to determine changes in the microbial profile. FarmLink will host workshops and provide input to inform to tool’s development.
Funded through the Soil CRC.
Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers – Enduring Benefits for Livestock Producers via Science and a New Community Partnerships Model
Australia’s native dung beetles are not adapted to European livestock dung. FarmLink is part of a national collaborative project to survey existing dung beetle populations, leading to the introduction of several new strains of dung beetles. This project will quantify the value of dung beetles on farms and develop a business model of dung beetle services.
Funded by MLA.
‘Smart’ Soil Sensors
This project will develop the next generation of field-based sensors that can measure, map, interpret, and communicate sensor data using new approaches that will help growers make on-farm decisions. FarmLink’s role is to identify grower participants and communicate progress and outcomes.
Funded through Soil CRC.
Graft India Ag-Tech Challenge
The project will select 12 Ag-Tech startups from India and Australia with proven broadacre dryland cropping technologies to tour the other country. It aims to help them to localise their product, gain insights into sales channels and meet potential customers. The Indian participants will spend three days in the FarmLink region with local growers.
Funded by FarmLink.
Increasing Productivity and Profitability of Pulse Production in Cereal Based Cropping Systems in Pakistan
CSU and ACIAR are working to improve pulse production in Pakistan. FarmLink is supporting this goal by leading ‘Farmers without fences’. In this sub-project, farmers and researchers from Pakistan visit Australia and vice-versa, to exchange information. Pakistani farmers benefit from a better understanding of Australian farming and the value chain, while Australian farmers and researchers learn more about the international pulse market.
Funded by ACIAR.
Recently approved projects
Extension of best practice principles for identifying and managing soil limitations in southern and central NSW
In this project, FarmLink and its partners will deliver a range of soils extension material and activities throughout southern and central NSW. Topics cover a range of soil limitations, interactions and management strategies.
Funded by GRDC.
Future proofing the soils of southern and central NSW from acidification and soil organic carbon decline
This project will develop a new, accurate acidification model using innovative machine learning methods. These tools will provide updated liming recommendations and scenario forecasting resulting in more sustainable soil management and productive farming enterprises.
Funded by National Landcare Program.
Improved Rhizobial Strains
The adaptation of high value pulse crops is restricted by the suitability of current rhizobial strains. This project will evaluate a range of elite rhizobial strains for high value pulse crops with the objective of releasing elite commercial strains.
Funded by GRDC.
Soilborne Pathogen Identification and Management Strategies for Winter Cereals
Soilborne pathogens are a widespread problem across Australian cereal growing regions. This investment will test localised soilborne disease management strategies.
FarmLink and other groups will work with cereal pathologists and other to deliver a coordinated set of 14 knowledge, identification and diagnosis workshops, which will inform subsequent non-replicated demonstration trials for pathogen management.
Funded by GRDC.
Projects in negotiation with funders
Facilitating adoption of integrated weed management strategies for feathertop Rhodes grass in the Northern Region, Prg 2. (Southern NSW)
Feathertop Rhodes grass is an aggressive weed that continues to increase in severity and incidence. This project will develop an integrated weed management strategy for FTR for growers and advisers in southern New South Wales. FarmLink will play a minor role in the overall project.
Regional harvester set-up workshops for the economic optimisation of harvest losses, efficiency and grain quality
This investment proposes a series of interactive harvester set-up days to inform growers, harvest contractors, advisors and machinery resellers on harvester set-up, front-to-back grain quality/ losses and harvest weed seed control. FarmLink will conduct 12 workshops over three years and three case studies.
Adoption of annual mixed species grazing crops to bridge the feed gap and increase annual feed production
Scarcity of feed in late autumn into winter limits the stocking potential and productivity of sheep enterprises. The aim of this project is to work with growers experimenting with mixed species annual pastures and grazing crops and to develop a small plot trial to showcase the productivity of these mixtures. 
Concluding projects
Climate and Weather Risk Guidelines
FarmLink supported CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology to deliver 57 Climate and Weather Risk Guidelines– one for each of the Australian natural resource management (NRM) regions. These will assist farmers to make decisions about crop planting and stocking levels by better understanding their local climate risks.
Funded by the National Drought Response.
Managing Early Season Canola Establishment Pests in NSW – Establishment and Coordination of Grower/Advisor Groups
Early identification and control of insect pests has been identified as a key constraint to the successful crop establishment of canola in southern NSW in the GRDC Northern Region. FarmLink worked with CESAR to produce practical agronomy advice to increase the awareness, understanding and management of early season pests in canola in Central and Southern NSW.
Funded by GRDC.


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