Grazing Land Management

Grassland conference to make case for farm productivity

Sheep Central, May 11, 2015

Grassland logoCan agricultural productivity fill the economic gaps left by the collapse in mining commodity prices?

The Grassland Society of Southern Australia aims to address that question during its annual conference in Naracoorte on July 22-23.

The conference will have a strong focus on red meat and wool and aims to show that Australia’s future lies in farming, not necessarily mining, according to the organisers.

Progressive farmers providing productivity tips

Conference convenor Tim Prance said being close to the south east dairying region of South Australia, conference organisers have taken the opportunity to pick up valuable productivity pointers from local dairy farmers, and also to showcase how agricultural productivity fills the gaps left by the collapse in mining commodity prices.

The conference will feature visits to progressive farmers in the area and follow the theme of soils, pastures, livestock, farm business and people, and marketing.

Soil, pasture and compost on agenda

Soil theme speakers will cover the latest research from the MLA-funded national phosphorus efficiency project in pastures by Dr Tim McLaren, University of Adelaide, and measuring and understanding soil microbiology to increase pasture growth, Dr Pauline Mele, La Trobe University. There will also be a panel discussion covering on-farm composting.

The pasture theme will include speakers on improving winter pasture growth through –

– the use of nitrogen and improved management, Dr Richard Rawnsley, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Burnie, and;

– new phalaris cultivars and their management for persistence and productivity, Lisa Warn, Mackinnon Project, University of Melbourne.

Three local farmers will outline the different forms of pasture management they have undertaken to extend their growing season and improve productivity. Conference delegates will visit farms to see first-hand how they make the most of their relatively short growing season without irrigation.

The conference will also hear the latest results from the National Pasture Variety Trial Network from Bill Fuller, CEO of the Australian Seed Federation.

The conference dinner will feature plenty of high-quality local red meat and wine in the Naracoorte Town Hall, with guest speaker, Dr Michael Kerrigan from Meningie, presenting a light-hearted look at a serious subject – rural mental health.

WA wool grower to give Mac Troup Oration

The second day of the conference will feature the Mac Troup Oration delivered by Robert Egerton-Warburton, a wool grower and Nuffield Scholar from Kojonup WA. He will discuss current constraints to agricultural growth in southern Australia and present possible solutions, with particular reference to the wool industry.  This will form part of the Business and People theme of the conference; that will also include John Gladigau, from Bulla Burra Farms, Loxton SA, on collaborative farming with a livestock focus (rather than cropping) and Andrew Cavill outlining an innovative men’s watch program to address the alarming rates of rural suicide.

Livestock theme speakers will include John Larsen from the University of Melbourne’s Veterinary Science School on managing sheep and cattle worms through pasture management and monitoring egg counts, and Carly Buttrose, a young farmer and Nuffield Scholar from Kangaroo Island on maximising lamb survival from conception to marking.

WA agvocate and red meat analyst to give global perspectives

The conference will wrap up with Catherine Marriott, from Binningup, WA, who is a passionate advocate for Australian agriculture, the beef industry and is a global agricultural leader. She will be followed by Matt Costello, Food and Agribusiness Research red meat analyst with Rabobank Sydney talking about the global outlook for red meat.

The session will conclude with a red meat panel discussion moderated by Andrew Johnson, a beef and pig producer from Tintinara SA, along with Geoff Teys, CEO of the large meat processor, Teys Australia, and Angus Brown from AgConcepts, Hamilton, who will share their views on what farmers, agribusinesses and consultants can do at a farm level to take advantage of current opportunities to expand the red meat industry and to improve farm profitability.

The complete program is available on the Grassland Society web site at www.grasslands.org.au.

To RSVP contact: Grassland Society of Southern Australia on 1300 137 550 or email [email protected]

More information: Tim Prance, Conference Convenor, [email protected]  0427 812 655.

Source: Grassland Society of Southern Australia.

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