Feb 27

Money and the Mind workshops

Posted by Kylie Dunstan at Thursday, February 27, 2020

UPDATED UPDATE:  the workshop will now be presented as a webinar series. Find out more about Money and the Mind - webinar series

UPDATE: Sorry everyone - the workshops have been cancelled due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus. We are hoping to reschedule and will keep you updated once we have some news.
We thank you for your understanding as we prioritise the health and wellbeing of staff, participants and the community as a whole.

Finance and People Management for Successful Farming Businesses is the focus of a half-day workshop - Money and The Mind - to be hosted by FarmLink at TAIC and featuring the return of the ever-popular Carmen Quade, accompanied by Esther Petrie. 
Carmen partnered with FarmLink last year to run the highly successful Farm Budget Masterclass series in 2019, including a session at the FarmLink Open Day.
The Money and the Mind workshops will run twice on Wednesday, March 25, with Carmen and Esther guiding you through a range of topics including –
How and why to prepare an annual report for your business
How to structure finance 
Negotiating interest rate reductions
Alternatives to bank finance
Identifying if drought assistance suits your business
Building great relationships with staff and contractors
Understanding and diffusing tense meeting situations
Respond to conflict or tension within your business or family group
Managing challenging interactions professionally
How to protect your own mental health and wellbeing during tough times
Participants can choose to attend either the 9.30am-12noon session, or 1pm-3.30pm. A combined lunch for all participants will be held from 12-12.45pm. Individual enrolments are welcomed, while farm partners are also encouraged to attend, to share the learning and ability to take the information back to the business.
FarmLink gratefully acknowledges the financial support from Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network through the Australian Government’s PHN Program and Empowering Communities program. Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Southern Region is also supporting the sessions.
If you would like to participate, contact FarmLink’s Lisa Matthews on or (02) 6980-1333.

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.

Nov 01

Wanted: Wild Radish Seed

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Tuesday, November 01, 2016

FarmLink, in conjunction with Bayer, is looking for 20 wild radish seed samples from across Southern NSW for herbicide resistance testing – free of charge to farmers.
Five samples are being sought (from different farms) across each of the following areas of the Riverina - NE (Narrandera, Griffith, West Wyalong), NW (Grenfell, Cowra, Harden, Cootamundra), SE (Holbrook, Culcairn, Lockhart) Central (Temora, Junee, Wagga).

What do you need to do to participate?

• Collect 2L of radish seed pods (from colour change onwards)
• Store in paper bag so they don’t sweat
• Record grower, paddock and herbicide history details.
• Contact Bayer’s Gus MacLennan for collection of seed.

This testing service is normally valued $380 per test, with results to be reported in 2017, while individual grower results and details to be kept confidential.
For further enquiries or to participate in the collection and survey please contact Lyndal Turner at FarmLink via or call (02) 6980 1333

Oct 31

Lupin disease confirmed in Riverina

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Monday, October 31, 2016

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has confirmed the detection of the damaging anthracnose disease in lupin crops for the first time in NSW, and has alerted growers to inspect crops for symptoms.
DPI Plant Biosecurity Director, Dr Satendra Kumar, said DPI has joined forces with Local Land Services and industry to kerb the disease and eradicate the fungus from NSW production areas.
“Four albus lupin crops on two adjoining Riverina farms are affected and working with Local Land Services, farmers and industry advisers we aim to quickly eradicate the fungus to protect albus lupin production in NSW and the eastern states,” Dr Kumar said.
Lupin anthracnose causes lesions on plants, causing bent, twisted stems and pods, which can lead to complete pod loss and malformed, scarred seed - suspect symptoms must be reported to NSW DPI by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881.
NSW has no natural hosts for the fungus and the current infected lupin crops are relatively isolated from one another, making successful eradication a promising prospect.
Stringent quarantine measures are maintained across the state to prevent the entry and establishment of this disease in NSW.
Lupin anthracnose is spread by infected seed and the fungus can be spread by contaminated machinery, vehicles, people, clothing, animals and fodder.
Initially detected by NSW DPI Plant Pathologist, Dr Kurt Lindbeck, and confirmed by laboratory DNA analysis at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the anthracnose damage was particularly severe in the affected lupin crops.
Riverina Local Land Services Agronomist, Lisa Castleman, encouraged all growers to look for signs of the disease and report any suspect cases.
Ms Castleman said lupin anthracnose incursions threaten the sustainability of albus lupin across NSW and all areas where lupins are grown in Australia.
“Enlisting the support of lupin growers is essential to gain rapid control of this outbreak, as we need to protect NSW lupin crops from this new threat,” said Ms Castleman.
Lupins are a significant winter crop for NSW producers with over 50,000 hectares sown to lupins this season.
More information:

Aug 25

Update on Russian wheat aphid: Presence confirmed in Riverina

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Thursday, August 25, 2016

NSW Department of Primary Industries has confirmed the detection of Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia) in a wheat crop near Rankin Springs in the Riverina region of NSW.

Russian wheat aphid has been deemed as non-eradicable by the National Biosecurity Management Group. Grain growers should be on the lookout for the pest and consider their management options.
Riverina Local Land Services is working closely with NSW Department of Primary Industries Plant Biosecurity & Product Integrity to keep growers and stakeholders informed. DPI is coordinating reports and providing diagnostics.
If you are a grain grower in southern NSW, we encourage you to monitor your crops for aphids and symptoms, and if you suspect the presence of the Russian wheat aphid, take a sample and photos for identification.


Ring the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline - 1800 084 881 to report suspected cases.

For help

If you need help with sampling for Russian wheat aphid please contact Riverina Local Land Services agronomists Lisa Castleman at Wagga Wagga 0427 201 963, Geoff Minchin at Temora 0429 842 489 or Janelle Jenkins at Tumut on 0427 639 947 or your nearest Local Land Services office.

Aphid sampling guidelines

1. Ring the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline – 1800 084 881 to determine where to send samples.
2. Leave aphids on host leaves where possible to reduce damage to aphids during transport.
3. Preferred sampling technique is to ensure plant part and aphid is collected without soil or roots.
4. Package in sealed container eg. plastic takeaway food container or similar and enclose in one or two zip-lock plastic bags and send by Express Post.
5. All samples must be accompanied by a Russian Wheat Aphid diagnostic request form.

Limiting the Spread

To limit the spread of pests and diseases, hygiene is important. It is important to put best-practice biosecurity measures into place to reduce the risk of transport on clothing, footwear, vehicles and machinery when moving between paddocks and farms. In short:
• wear disposable coveralls or change clothing
• wash footwear
• wash vehicles.

Tools available

If you have a confirmed outbreak of Russian wheat aphid, there are tools available to help manage the aphid, including an emergency use permit for specific chemicals issued by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Grain growers planning to spray are encouraged to adhere to all general chemical use practices.

Contact us

Call 1300 795 299 to contact your Local Land Services office from Monday to Friday during business hours. You can also email us at




Jun 02

Exotic pest alert - Russian Wheat Aphid

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Thursday, June 02, 2016

Cereal crop inspections and reporting is being requested in response to the detection of the exotic pest Russian Wheat Aphid (RWA) Diuraphis noxia in South Australia. This is the first report in Australia of this high priority notifiable pest of the grains industry. Cereal hosts include wheat, barley, triticale and oats.
Landholders and agronomists are asked to keep a watchful eye on emerging cereal crops and report any signs of damage or strange pest activity.
Damage symptoms include a noticeable loss of green colouration across the crop, and on closer inspection, stunted plant growth and loss of vigour.
If Russian wheat aphid becomes established, it could have considerable impacts on yield (up to 80% in wheat and 100% in barley) along with other management issues, including unknown insecticide resistance status and varietal response, with current varieties likely to be severely impacted.
In order to determine the extent of distribution of RWA and for further decisions to be made regarding the response, all grain growing states are coordinating surveillance through agronomists, researchers and growers.
What NSW needs to do …
Agronomists, growers and anyone working in cereal crops are asked to specifically look for Russian Wheat Aphid symptoms and report back on a weekly basis for at least the next month via the NSW RWA surveillance reporting sheet.
Negative observation reports are also required, to assist response decision making and as evidence that inspections have been made. If aphids or symptoms are found, they need to be immediately reported through the EPP Hotline (1800 084 881), which directly goes to Department of Primary Industries in Orange. Timely reporting of this pest if found in NSW will increase the chance of containment and minimise its spread.
Resources explaining hosts, associated symptoms and features of Russian Wheat Aphid to aid in surveillance can also be downloaded below.

Exotic Pest Alert Russian Wheat Aphid Identification and Associated Damage.pdf

NSW RWA Surveillance fact sheet.pdf

Russian wheat aphid surveillance reporting sheet.pdf

May 27

Landcare grant for soil moisture education

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Friday, May 27, 2016

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Keith Pitt announced funding for two local applicants under the National Landcare Programme Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants Round 2015-16.
Mr McCormack said FarmLink at Temora and Bruie Plains Landcare Group had received grants which will support Australia’s vibrant, innovative and competitive agriculture sector.
“FarmLink will receive $55,000 to support their successful project helping local farmers understand soil moisture conditions to boost their productivity,” Mr McCormack said.
“This project will help share local knowledge and skills across the sector to boost farm productivity and protect the natural resources that our agricultural industries depend on.
“The Bruie Plains Landcare Group has been provided with $11,000 to deliver a holistic grazing management course for Central West farmers to help empower landholders and lift their production.
“The Small Grants Round is an important component of the National Landcare Programme which ultimately delivers on the Coalition Government’s commitment to support profitable returns at the farmgate.
“I congratulate both organisations and I look forward to seeing these projects deliver results for our local farmers.”
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Keith Pitt said the Nationals in Government were working closely with volunteer Landcare groups and farming organisations to strengthen the Landcare program and prioritise works where they can have greatest impact.
“The Coalition’s strong investment of $1 billion over four years in the National Landcare Programme demonstrates our great commitment to support Landcare in Australia and ensure our lands remain a solid foundation for our agricultural sector,” Mr Pitt said.
“Projects like FarmLink and Bruie Plains will contribute greatly to increasing the knowledge and skills sharing of local farmers, leading to higher productivity and yields, and boosting the local economy.”

Apr 27

Preparing for planting 2016

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rain forecast for this weekend means Riverina farmers are in the middle of preparing for, and sowing, the 2016 winter crop, an integral part of Australia’s agricultural output. Riverina farmers produce $2.1 billion worth of total agricultural output annually (ABARES) with grain production alone worth $795 million annually.
As a part of the preparation for this year’s crop, farmers have been using stubble burning as an important tool in the management of their farming systems. But why do farmers burn?
There are lots of reasons why farmers burn crop residue, but the overriding issue is that this stubble residue will adversely affect their cropping program, which can be compromised if the stubble -
• causes blockages to seeding equipment
• causes uneven crop emergence
• perpetuates crop diseases
• provides habitat for crop pests
• affects the efficacy of weed control
• affects the uptake of nutrients by the new crop
Farmers retain their stubble for as long as possible to provide grazing for sheep, to reduce erosion risk and to retain moisture.
Southern NSW produces some of the highest crop yields and best quality grain in Australia. Average wheat yields of 3-4 tonnes/ha are common, and could be double that in a good year. A direct result of that is that there is large amounts of stubble to deal with before the next crop can be sown. Typically stubble residue can be 1.5 x the grain yield. Research has shown that if the amount of stubble exceeds 3 tonne/ha then many seeders will have difficulties in sowing crops evenly and there will be blockages as the stubble tends to clump up. Getting crops sown to emerge within the correct time period for each variety is so important for the end result. Agronomists spend a lot of time planning crop rotations with farmers and selecting varieties suitable for each paddock to avoid frost and heat stress in critical times in spring, and this depends on the sowing operation going smoothly.
Many crop diseases and pests are harboured in the old stubble residue, so depending on the crop rotation the stubble may need to be removed to prevent the problems. Fungal leaf diseases such as Yellow Leaf Spot in cereals and Blackleg in canola are carried over in stubble residue. Stubble burning reduces these risks in the paddock so that crop seedlings are not exposed to the disease at emergence. Pests such as earwigs, millipedes and slugs rely on stubble cover to improve their habitat in cropping paddocks and can damage emerging seedlings, especially fragile canola seedlings. Removing the stubble by burning can help prevent these from causing a problem.
Weed competition is the greatest threat to crop productivity worldwide, so early control is essential for ensuring that crop yields are not compromised, and the emerging crop can become competitive itself. Stubble can interfere with efficient application of herbicides. Soil active pre-emergent herbicides will not be effective if stubble cover absorbs the spray, preventing even application. Post emergent weed control may also be compromised if standing stubble is shading seedling weeds so that spray droplets do not reach the target so burning stubble before herbicide application will give better results.
The technique of windrow burning as a way of destroying resistant weed seeds is also becoming an important part of the integrated weed management package. Instead of spreading harvested weeds seeds across the paddock, stubble residues are simply dropped via a shute at the back of the header so they can be burnt in late summer or early autumn in a hot burn that destroys all the weed seeds. This allows the majority of the stubble to be conserved, but herbicide resistant weed seeds are destroyed.
Stubble residues can also affect the uptake of nutrients to crops in some circumstances. Cereal stubble from high yielding crops can have a carbon : nitrogen ratio of 80 : 1. When this residue is incorporated into soil it will provide a feedstock for soil microbes. Carbon from crop residues is the primary driver of soil microbial activity and this in turn leads to the release of plant nutrients. The problem here is that the microbes (bacteria and fungi) need other nutrients, particularly nitrogen to digest this carbon. Nitrogen is stripped from soil reserves to do this, hence there will be a short term tie-up of nutrients that are not available to the emerging crop. Farmers have the choice of adding more nutrient for the crop, having the stubble residue in contact with soil for a longer fallow period, or removing the stubble by burning to avoid these nutrient problems. Local research showed that grazing stubbles over summer helped to avoid this nutrient tie-up and redistribute the nutrients across the paddock. Care needs to be taken to not over graze the stubble and increase the risk of soil erosion by wind and water.
Farmers do their best to avoid any impact of smoke on nearby communities by observing some basic principles when conducting stubble burning, including -
• checking with the Bureau of Meteorology and local Rural Fire Authorities when weather conditions will be suitable for burning
• avoiding calm weather conditions that are associated with temperature inversions where smoke will hang in the air for long periods and can drift into local towns.
• burning stubble in the heat of the day with a good cross breeze to give a quick, hot burn.
• awareness of when winds will take smoke into neighbouring towns.
Burning stubble can be done at various strategic times for many reasons, but there is a need to be aware of the “big picture” how it fits into the farming system and how it can be done to minimise the effects on the community.
FarmLink is continuing its work in the GRDC Stubble Initiative to ensure farmers have the support of their local communities thanks to improved stewardship of stubble burning and ongoing sustainable farm management practices.

Apr 27

Get your farm office organised

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In response to member needs, FarmLink is collaborating with Partners in Grain to bring a Farm Office Efficiences workshop to Temora on Thursday, May 26.

Topics covered during the day will include -

  • Reduce office time by being organised

  • Office design and essential equipment

  • Systems and processes for mail sorting, finances and office filing

  • Keeping of physical records and staff records

  • Going paperless – where to start and what it involves

  • Communication and farm meeting

Register and pay online via the Partners in Grain website

Jan 29

Improving Crop Productivity

Posted by Cindy Cassidy at Friday, January 29, 2016

 FarmLink-hosted workshops get into full swing in February with the Improving Crop Productivity ... practical steps workshop on February 11.

The day will be a combination of presentations and field activities focussed on enabling farmers to establish their own field trials and teaching them about soil sampling. Learn a little bit of the science and then take it out into the paddock to put it into action.