Southern Dirt Updates

AGM 2021

On the 27th of October Southern Dirt held their Annual General meeting at the Kojonup Sports Complex. We welcome new board members Alec Smith and Wayde Robinson who will be an asset to the group. Thanks to the out going members Barbara Dunnet (Treasurer) and Mark Allington. Honorary Life memberships were awarded to Lynley Anderson and Paul Omedei for their significant contribution to Southern Dirt over many years and have supported and helped with the development and operations of our group.  Thanks to all the members who attended.

Southern Dirt - Membership Survey

With the changes to the Strategic Direction of Southern Dirt – we would like to gather some feedback from our members on what you would like to see for the group moving forward into the 2022-2025 period. A survey will be sent out in the new year to all members and it would be great to have your opinions. This information will help with the development of the new Strategic Plan that will guide the group into the future.


Colin Black – Keeping things turning in Kojonup for 30 years

Thirty years and 2 months ago Colin Black, his wife Kathy and young daughter moved to Kojonup to work for the Kojonup tyre service. He thought it would be an easy gig compared to shearing. As a tyre rep, he was on the road with visits to farms and houses outside of the Kojonup centre – replacing tyres on anything and everything from wheelbarrows to earthmoving equipment, before moving to the Tyre service centre on the main street.

He has a love of motorbikes and told the story of when he and some mates took their bikes to the Tambellup Bike show – He on his 1982 Ducati 900, mates on a Honda CVR and Harley Davidson. After the show they decided to head to the Broomehill tavern for a beer – they parked up side by side and found the tavern was closed. His mate got off his bike and it fell causing the others to domino. No damage to the bikes but they definitely needed a beer after that.

He would have seen a thing or two in his time in town with some cracker stories to tell. Some of you may have seen his collection of hand drawn maps which he would put together to make sure the field service staff made it to the right place.


Blacky has helped many a local and traveler with an unofficial 7-day service always there to get people back on the road or on the job as quick as he could with a smile on his face. He has only had one month long holiday in the past thirty years and is looking forward to having time to travel, fish and spend time with his grandkids and even to ride his motorbikes.

Thanks for your service to Kojonup Blacky and Kathy and all the best for the future.

GRDC Harvest 2021 News

It has been a “stop start” harvest across much of Western Australia as growers battle wet weather and storms in a bid to get this season’s crop off the paddock.As one frustrated grower recently said, the real meaning of the word header is… a machine that attracts rain but that’s been most machines this year! Please stay safe as you work long hours to get this year’s grain into silos.Wet weather has also brought with it late season weed control issues. For strategies to help guide weed control check out the Summer weed management tips for WA. You can also tune into WeedSmart’s latest podcast Controlling late season weeds and driving down the weed seedbank.On the subject of weed control, GRDC’s crop protection team is encouraging growers to get out into paddocks and collect samples for resistance testing as part of this season’s harvest. You can watch this short WeedSmart video where extension agronomists Peter Newman and Chris Davey explain the differences between random and selected resistance testing and why each is important.Are you a grower or adviser who has encountered the redlegged earth mite? Cesar Australia is interested in hearing from you as part of national survey on redlegged earth mite. Your responses will help to increase understanding of current control strategies and to improve how the redlegged earth mite is managed across Australia. The survey is being led by Cesar Australia as part of a GRDC investment (CES2010-001RTX). It only takes 10 minutes. To complete the survey, click here.Growers, advisers, researchers may also be interested in the $50 million National Soil Carbon Challenge and stage one feasibility study guidelines announced by the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor recently. The National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge will support development of new and innovative soil carbon measurement technologies. Further information is available at

The road to opportunity for Australian canola 


As canola prices break records in 2021, Australia’s canola industry has the potential for sustained upside ahead with policies to curb emissions in North America and Europe expected to lift global demand for oilseeds – and in particular canola – through to 2030, according to Rabobank grains and oilseeds analyst Dennis Voznesenski. And this will present opportunities for Australian canola exports. 

In Rabobank’s recent report Global Canola Opportunities in the Sustainable-Fuel Future: Is Australia fit and ready? Mr Voznesenski says it will be modest initially, but will grow as a result of the structural shifts in the global industry – namely Canada’s falling exportable surplus in 2024/25 and then from 2026/27 onwards due to the EU’s increasing canola import needs. 

“In the current 2021/22 season, global supply of canola has been severely reduced by drought in Canada and by continued heavy EU import demand,” he says. “And this has been benefiting Australia and other exporters.” 

Mr Voznesenski says domestic canola prices are starting to break the A$1000 a tonne mark for non-GM canola, while overseas markets broke through that level earlier in the year.  

“A substantial lift in global canola production is expected next season,” he says, however, in 2024/25, new Canadian crushing capacity is expected to come online to supply a growing renewable diesel sector across North America, and this will reduce Canada’s exportable surplus. 

“Then from 2026/27 onwards, we expect sizeable reductions in the use of palm oil as a feedstock for biodiesel in EU countries as it is phased out to meet the Union’s sustainability commitments. The feedstock gap created will deliver an opportunity for even greater use of canola in the EU.”   


Just how much Australian canola, and canola prices, will benefit, however, will depend on a number of variables, he says. These include how quickly the EU phases out palm oil in biofuels and how much Canadian canola exports drop, as well as how much global production grows and what additional sustainability requirements may be placed on Australian canola. 


“While the road to 2030 for canola contains many uncertainties, we can be sure the global exportable surplus is on a downward trajectory,” he says. “And this will create opportunities for Australian canola.”  


In years when global production significantly underperforms, which it inevitably will, Mr Voznesenski says shortages will result in even greater opportunities.  

“However, Australian canola will need to ensure it is ‘fit’ to take advantage of these future export opportunities over the course of the next decade, in particular in meeting the sustainability credentials which will be required in export markets.” 

To find out more about other Rabobank research, contact Rabobank Bunbury on 08 9726 7100 or subscribe to RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Australia & New Zealand on your podcast app. 

WHS Act Changes and What you need to know

Are you ready for the new WA safety law changes?
At the commencement of year (2022) Western Australia will some major
changes coming with the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act /
Safety Solutions WA will be conducting information sessions for business
owners and management detailing the transition from the Occupational Safety
and Health Act 1984 to the new Work Health and Safety Act. 

Safety Solutions WA are able to provide an information session that will provide an overview of the new changes and how these will impact on your business. 

Some items that will be covered include:

Changes to the Duties of Care onus held by the:

  • Employer
  • Person in control of a workplace
  • PCBU (Person Conducting a Business of Undertaking)
  • Directors / Managers / Board members
  • Workers and subcontractors • A greater focus on health within the workplace
  • A heavier expectation of contractor assessment and management
  • A more focused approach to Due Diligence
  • Changes to what is a reportable incident
  • Changes to how the enforcement of WHS breaches are applied
  • New and significantly increased penalties

If you are interested in learning more or attending a session go to Safety Solutions WA 

Sheep enterprise Bench marking for members

Do you know how well your sheep enterprise is performing? If you’re doing well, but others are doing better, what is it that’s setting them apart? Benchmarking offers you a chance to understand where your baseline performance currently is, compare your results to others, then monitor progress over time, also judging whether you’re improving at the same rate as comparable peers.

AgricUltra – a Kojonup based consultancy – is offering to create an exclusive sheep benchmarking series for Southern Dirt members. There will be 10 benchmarks analysed and reported, including production and financial indicators. These benchmarks have been developed to be a truly useful guide for improving enterprise performance. Reports will be produced for each individual participant, highlighting their own results against the group average, and indicating whether each of their results falls in the top 25%, middle 50%, or bottom 25% of the combined group results. The top result for each category will also be listed, along with its corresponding breed type. All participants will receive a ranking for each category too, but all members will be anonymised.

Benchmarking is never an exact science, but it offers a good indication of where a producer is performing well and where improvements can be made. To be fair to allcomers, results will be calculated using growing season rainfall. Some may remain concerned that there are still too many localised factors, such as soil type and other environmental conditions unique to a particular region, for the results to be truly useful. To combat this, a localised benchmarking group is required.

The total cost for inclusion in the group, including analysis and individual report (and further feedback if desired), is just $250 + GST. Please contact James Macfarlane at AgricUltra on 0447 99 99 02, or

Results will be analysed and released in April 2022, based on the 2021 season.



Increasing Profits with Dual Purpose Crops

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While dual purpose crops have been utilised in mixed farming operations across WA and the East Coast for many years, there remains a requirement to promote this option to increase adoption and assist growers who are still developing their skillsets in this practice. Growers in Western Australia are also becoming more interested in the opportunities that alternative grazing crops offer away from oats and are looking to understand what options like long season wheats and grazing barleys can provide to them in their mixed farming enterprises.

Southern Dirt has successfully applied for funding through MLA’s Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) program to examine the opportunities that long season wheats as a dual purpose crop can provide to producers in their mixed farming enterprise. The PDS project will operate nine sites from 2020 through to 2023, demonstrating the suitability, practical application and benefit cost analysis of using long season wheats as dual purpose crops in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. The results and findings will be circulated through the region and the wider industry via field walks, field days, case studies and annual reports, with the aim of assisting producers in the uptake of this beneficial practice. 

Dual purpose crops are planted at the break of the season, used as a feed source for livestock through the late autumn and winter period and harvested as a cash crop at the end of the season. They give growers the opportunity to address the autumn/winter feed gap through grazing with minimal or no impact to yields if ma

naged correctly. They can also be highly valuable to livestock management, by providing high quality feed in June and July and replacing supplementary feeding. They can also give new pastures time to establish, or to be rested to increase dry matter for later in the season.

To optimise grain production, removal of stock needs to occur prior to stem elongation, so as to not remove the reproductive heads, being mindful of residual biomass. This will allow crops to recover and finish post-grazing to meet target yields.

Since 2000, there has been a general increase in summer rainfall and a corresponding decrease in winter rainfall (AEGIC data 2018). Southern Dirt rainfall records show this is also the case for growers in the southern high rainfall zone of WA. As a result, crop yields are being affected, and there are larger winter feed gaps, with livestock requiring supplementary grain feeding for longer. Grazing winter crops can be the key to mixed farming profitability and is starting to gain traction through past programs such as ‘Grain and Graze’.

Winter type wheats are gaining prominence as the preferred crop as they are easier to graze than spring wheats because they remain vegetative for much longer. This means they can be grazed for longer periods of time compared to spring type wheats, with less risk of yield loss.

Table 1 demonstrates the feed benefit of grazing a winter wheat compared to an oat or barley crop. All crops were grazed at a similar stage of growth, though stocking rates were different. The long season wheat was able to provide considerably more DSE equivalent days of grazing, which would allow pastures to recover, increase in biomass and remove the need for supplementary feed. The three Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS) highlighted below, with grazed and ungrazed crops, will be harvested at the end of this season to determine if there was any impact on final yield. 

Table 1: 2021 Producer demonstration sites grazing data

PDS location Katanning Kojonup Bridgetown
Crop Barley Serradella Long Season wheat Bannister Oats
Crop entry stage GS.23 – GS.25 GS.22 – GS.24 GS.22 – GS,24
DSE/Ha 42 20 40
Entry date 13 August 2021 14 June 2021 12 August 2021
Exit date 20 August 2021 16 July 2021 21 August 2021
Days Grazing 7 32 9
1 DSE Equivalent Days Grazing/Ha 294 640 360

Photo 1: Ewes and lambs entering the paddock in Bridgetown on the 12thAugust 2021

Capturing the whole enterprise benefits from dual purpose crops can be difficult in a PDS. The most common methodology has been to graze the crops with lambs or ewe hoggets and measure live weight gains against those of lambs or ewe hoggets on the pasture paddock.

The results from the 2020 Kojonup demonstration site (Table 2) showed an improvement of 126.11 g/day/lamb for the lambs grazing on the Williams oats crop compared to the lambs grazing on pasture. This st

rategy captures the benefit of changes to livestock management of the operation.

Harvest data from the grazed and ungrazed crop then determines the impact of the grazing on grain production. The two are then combined to generate the net benefit (or loss) to the mixed farming enterprise (harvest results are not available from the 2020 site).

  Table 2: 2020 Kojonup average daily weight gain in crop v pasture:

  Average Initial Weight (kg) Average Final Weight (kg) Days Grazed Weight Gain (kg) Daily Weight Gain (g/day)
Pasture 40.25 43.06 13 2.81 215.84
Crop – Oats 39.03 43.82 14 4.79 341.95


Photo 2: Bannister Oats after being grazed for nine days at 40 DSE stocking rate on the 21st August 2021.

While the above benefit cost analysis (BCA) is a suitable methodology for evaluating the benefits (lamb and ewe hogget weight gain) of dual purpose crops, it isn’t applicable to all producers and it may not fully capture all of the potential benefits in a mixed farming operation.

There is a trend among producers in the Great Southern and South West Western Australia who manage terminal flocks of Merino ewes joined to meat type rams such as White Suffolk or Poll Dorset producing crossbred lambs. Producers managing this type of livestock operation don’t breed their own ewes and therefore don’t carry ewe hoggets, and by producing faster growing crossbred lambs, they don’t carry any of the previous year’s lambs over winter. This ensures that all ewes within the operation can produce a lamb and they are not carrying any dry stock when the crop is being planted.

While the weight gain benefits from grazing crops with lambs or ewe hoggets over winter do not apply to this group of producers, there are still significant benefits that can be achieved through dual purpose crops by this type of livestock operation.

Dual purpose crops enable these producers to increase their cropped area, while maintaining their livestock operation by grazing crops with joined ewes. The increase in profitability is generated through grain sales by higher yields. Dual purpose crops enable producers to better capture the potential of the highly productive spring flush experienced in the southern WA regions.  

Importantly, the crops should be sown as early as possible to allow grazing to begin in early winter. Crops are grazed throughout winter, enabling pastures to produce increased bulk so they are ready for the livestock when they are returned onto these paddocks in late winter to allow the crops enough time to finish and reach their full yield potential. In the event of a poor season, the extra cropping paddock/s may have to be sacrificed to livestock, however, this should alleviate the need to supplementary feed.

It is worth noting that this potential increase in cropping area through the use of dual purpose crops applies to all livestock producers, irrespective of flock structure.

The 2021 PDS in Bridgetown currently manages a livestock operation of 100% purchased Merino ewes joined to White Suffolk and Poll Dorset rams, as well as an Angus/Charolais beef production operation. One of the objectives and outcomes of the current Southern Dirt project is to understand and capture the whole of farm benefit cost analysis of increasing cropping hectares and grain production while maintaining livestock numbers. Incorporating the benefits of long season wheats into the system is expected to further improve the benefits of dual purpose crops.

The knowledge generated from this PDS will be released over the next two years as the results are compiled and generated.     

The outcomes from this PDS will be transferable to all mixed farming operation within the Great Southern, South Coast and South West of Western Australia. 


This Producer Demonstration Site is funded by Meat & Livestock Australia.

Big Change at Southern Dirt

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Southern Dirt has taken a strategic decision to change the direction of the group back to a local trials and research group. We will now concentrate on trials in the Kojonup region up to 100kms radius with similar farming practices only. Hopefully by consolidating our reach it will allow us to provide more focus to local farmer members in the mixed farming space.

All Peel and Southwest members will go under the new organisation WA Future Food Network which will be chaired by CEO Tracey Hodgkins who will be leaving Southern Dirt at the end of the month. The network was formed to carry on the great work that has done under Tracey’s guidance for the past six years. The network aims to drive and support the development of a progressive local food industry in WA throughout the supply chain. Southern Dirt staff members Hannah Lalor who will be CEO of the Network and Jessica Bantz the Chief Operations Officer will transfer to the network to carry on their work for WA farm and food businesses. The WA Future Food Network will continue to support Southern Dirt farmers.