The Southern Dirt grower group, an innovative farm technology and trials group based in the South West of Western Australia, held their annual spring field day in Kojonup this week. The field day was well attended with around 70 growers and industry representatives present. The day started with a tour of the local canola, wheat and barley National Variety Trials (NVT). The NVT tour showed the varieties that are currently getting trialed and how they are performing in the local areas.
Representatives from the various seed companies provided background information on their up and coming seed lines and representatives from GRDC and CSIRO put the local trials in the larger context of breeding programs and where the industry is heading. One of the issues that was highlighted during the tour is the potential of a canola-seed shortage next year as seed production sites on the East Coast of Australia have been getting hit by a double whammy of drought and frost. The adverse seasonal conditions in Eastern Australia however also show clearly why localised trials in high-rainfall areas such as Kojonup are very important, according to local agronomists.
When the NVT tour returned to the Kojonup Golf Club, Southern Dirt had an impressive lineup of speakers organised. Toni Barton told her Lamb Bacon story and Paul O’Meehan gave a very motivational talk about his success in growing his beef feedlot and grain growing business, among other speakers. The session that sparked most discussion in the audience however was Brad Jones’ presentation on Linking Data to Profitability On-Farm, which Agworld sponsored as ‘Business Session Sponsor’ for Southern Dirt’s spring field day.
Brad Jones is a long time Agworld user and 2016 National ‘Farmer of the Year’ who is using a very structured and data driven approach to improve his business results. Brad explained his business model, in the form of a flow chart, and how this has helped him become very efficient with his inputs as well as balancing profit and risk in his operation. By using data derived from regular soil testing, moisture probes, weather stations, satellite imagery and yield data, Brad shows how any grower can take a data driven approach to improve their business.
In the afternoon attendees got a chance to join another tour centred around a legume demonstration, a ripper gauge trial and pasture management. Feedback from growers showed that, although more traditional field day items like NVT tours are still important, focusing a keynote speaker lineup around innovation and developing farming businesses in non-traditional ways, is of great interest to attendees. Well done to Southern Dirt for organising another great spring field day!