Southern Dirt hosted over 40 people at their Spring Field Day on the 13th October. It was held at Kojonup Sporting Complex in the morning with four keynote speakers.

Wayne Pluske, founder of Laconik, discussed the importance of measuring and reviewing data when making fertiliser decisions, taking into consideration a range of factors. He outlined several changes to farming that allow for decisions to be made using mapping, data collection, variable rate technology, on farm experimentation, sensors and data analysis.

CSIRO researcher, Sam Flottmann, presented updates on the High Rainfall Zone Canola farming systems project, aiming to support growers to increase yield and reduce yield gap. The issues they have found is that Canola grown in the HRZ has a low harvest index and fails to convert biomass into yield. Plant growth regulators and grazing is being trailed to see if they can reduce plant height and make the canopy more compact. Once they harvest, they will be able to see if there are significant differences, so keep an eye out for an update on their results!

Michael Harvey is a dairy analyst for Rabobank and presented virtually from Melbourne. He outlined the impacts of Covid-19 on food markets and discussed how they have already been affected globally and where Australia finds itself economically. He also gave an insight to trends indicating what the future might hold for the agriculture industry.

Our final presenter for the morning – Ley Webster, owner, and developer of 2 Workin Oz, discussed the background of the company and the reasons for its development. She outlined examples of training they can provide to people pursuing work in the agriculture industry and connect trained staff to farmers and organisations around Australia. She touched on the challenges of Covid-19 and how their business changed to cover shortages in certain sectors.

In the afternoon, everyone was invited to three farm tours. Kojonup School Farm was the first site, which is currently hosting the MLA Dual Purpose Crops project. This aim is to find out the differences in profits when comparing pasture and crop fed sheep. The school is partnering with Southern Dirt to host more trials and technologies in the future to allow students to be involved in cutting edge research and innovations in the agriculture industry.

Alana and Georgia from AGT and InterGrain presented on new varieties of barley and wheat at Simon Zachers NVT site. A basic overview of each variety and the yield potentials were discussed, and a field walk allowed attendees to compare the physical features of each of the varieties.

Demonstrations of the Grizzly Tiny, provided by Kojonup Agricultural Supplies and the Versatile Delta Track 620, provided by McIntosh & Son at Theo Cunningham’s farm was the final stop. Spring Field Day attendees and local Tambellup farmers were invited to see these machines in action, while Glenn McDonald gave a short talk about the composition of the soil and its non-wetting properties. It was interesting to see how much clay was able to be pulled up by the Grizzly Tiny to mix in with the topsoil, which allows for improved wetting capacity of the soil.

After a productive day, drinks and afternoon tea were enjoyed by all, with very positive feedback from the attendees. Southern Dirt thanks everyone involved, who made this such a successful day.

Morning Keynote Speakers:

Better Ways to Make Fertilizer Decisions
Wayne Pluske, Laconic

High Rainfall Zone GRDC Canola Trial
Sam Flottmann, CSIRO

Road to Recovery: How is the global pandemic impacting food markets?
Michael Harvey, Rabobank

Training and Recruitment in a Pandemic
Ley Webster, 2 Workin Oz

Afternoon Farm Tours:

Student Impact
Mel Shepperd, Agriculture Program, Kojonup District High School

New Variety Trials Speed Dating
Alana Hartley, AGT & Georgia Trainor, InterGrain - Video Unavailable.

Non-Wetting Soils Project and Grizzly Tiny Demo
Alec Smith from Kojonup Agricultural Supplies and Glenn McDonald, research scientist at DPIRD.