Grower Network Update – Julianne Hill, GRDC’s Grower Network coordinator for Western Region

Summer Sesh
Carla Milazzo, left, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Albany, Georgia Trainor, InterGrain, and Rachel Asquith, GRDC. Photo: Julianne Hill.

The GRDC’s Western Region Grower Network held three ‘Summer Sesh’ Local Forum events in January. The meetings were held at Abbey Beach Resort, Broadwater (19 January), Centenary Stadium, Albany (21 January) and Esperance Bay Yacht Club (22 January).

A total of 133 guests attended the three events and there was some good discussion around topics of high interest.

Those presenting at the forums included:

  • Broadwater: Neil Bennett, media and communication manager at the Bureau of Meteorology in Western Australia, and GRDC senior regional manager Peter Bird
  • Albany: WFI (formerly Wesfarmers Insurance) local area manager Darrell Panizza, a triple premiership player with Claremont in the WA Football League and a member of the WA Football Hall of Fame
  • Esperance: GRDC grower relations manager – west, Rachel Asquith, also president of the Claremont Women’s Football Club and the first female football representative to join the board of the Claremont Football Club.
  • At all events: GRDC Western Region Panel chair Darrin Lee
  • At all events: Alan Meldrum – GrainGrowers regional coordinator, WA.

All the issues raised at the events are being discussed when the GRDC Grower Network members meet in February. Albany and Esperance port zone members met via Zoom (due to the COVID-19 lockdown) on 2 February and 3 February respectively; Geraldton port zone members met on 15 and 16 February ; and the Kwinana East and Kwinana West port zone members meet on 24 and 25 February.

Grower and industry representatives at the Summer Sesh Local Forum events
Grower and industry representatives at the Summer Sesh Local Forum events. Photos: Julianne Hill.

At the Albany port zone Grower Network member meeting, 47 issues were discussed, arising from the Summer Sesh events, and via members and their local growers and grower groups. All issues are proceeding to GRDC for consideration.

Areas that the Albany port zone Grower Network developed further included:

  • Slaters, earwigs and vegetable beetles, which appear to be increasing
  • Soil amelioration options for a range of purposes, and knowing when, how and which soil types respond best
  • Improving crop germination and establishment in non-wetting soils, with particular interest in the use of wetting agents
  • Variable rate nitrogen – more for yield than protein management
  • Lime and gypsum – mixing both; a desire for further work on grey clays; rates of application.

At the Esperance port zone Grower Network member meeting, 46 issues were discussed, arising from the Summer Sesh events and via the Grower Network members and their local networks. All issues are going to GRDC for consideration.

Areas that the Esperance port zone Grower Network developed further included:

  • Falling numbers, which is still a crucial issue for the Esperance port zone
  • Russian wheat aphid, particularly in early sowing situations
  • Nitrogen applications in difficult autumn/winter conditions
  • Slaters and earwigs
  • Non-mechanical solutions to soil constraints for areas/soils that can’t be mechanically ameliorated (sodic soils, heavy gravels, sandy lighter soils) and are potentially more economic compared with deep soil amelioration by mechanical means.

Our many thanks to all of those who attended a Summer Sesh event this summer. We really appreciated being able to catch up with you all and to have a chat.

The Grower Network members meet again in winter so if any growers or industry people are keen to highlight an issue which is impacting on grower profitability, we welcome your input.

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