Record turnout for Spring Field Day

Vast Agronomy agronomist Liz Semmens, pictured with Dave Caldwell, Coonmoor, Lindenow South (left), Allister Morris, Winindoo and Trent Anderson, Giffard. Photos: Lyric Anderson

The Gippsland Research Farm on Bengworden Road has become a hub of new ideas for agriculture, and last week’s Gippsland Agricultural Group (GAgG) Spring Field Day showcased plenty of findings on everything from creating better topsoil to lucerne suitability, feed budgeting for stock and forage trials.

Aside from offering social interaction and communication, the Spring Field Day (Thursday, October 26) allowed the 117 attendees to choose a subject and increase their knowledge base.

GAgG chief executive, Trevor Caithness was happy with the roll-up, saying despite cold weather, low commodity prices and high-interest rates, producers were able to recognise there were things in farming they could control.

“Our attendees had the choice of 11 presentations,” Mr Caithness said.

“It was most encouraging to observe our members gleaning information from trials to take home and try out in their own business.

“The degree of upskilling that’s taking place within our region is excellent. It was our fourth annual spring field day and the largest turnout we’ve had.”

Many of the demonstrations at the research farm are run in conjunction with industry partners.

Veterinarian consultant, Alison Gunn of Herd Solutions is a co-convenor of the Meat and Livestock Australia joint-funded Growing Perennial Pastures in a Variable Climate project.

The demonstration at the research farm aims to demonstrate four different preparation methods, using six different seed mixes to determine the most persistent and productive perennial pastures for Gippsland.

“The attendance was amazing, and there was some good discussion on establishing and managing perennial pastures,” Dr Gunn said.

“It’s a six-year project that also includes six demonstrations on farms across the Wellington and East Gippsland shires.”

On hand was agronomist Liz Semmens of Vast Agronomy, Sale, who said there was a distinct difference in the demonstration plots that had been properly prepared for sowing.

The two led large groups across the paddocks and encouraged questions and discussion.

“It’s obvious in this replicated demonstration that proper preparation improves your outcomes,” Ms Semmens said.

“It’s also a grazing demonstration and in one plot there were annuals planted in with perennials, which resulted in gaps on the ground. That makes it easier for weeds to come through and undo the preparation unless you’re prepared to drill every year.”

She said the demonstration was aiming to get perennials in to retain ground cover and keep moisture so they’ll grow for longer and provide year-round feed.

“You also need to know your nutrient base line; it’s a good starting point before you begin so you can target species to suit and not fight nature too much.”

Inspired Ag’s Peter Ronalds and the Rural Financial Counselling Service’s Chris Marshall admire the new trailer-mounted soil coring unit that will be used by Southern Farming Systems to help 60 farmers better understand their soils.

Peak Pasture and Livestock agronomist, Nicole Frost, is engaged as a Drought Adoption Officer with GAgG via funding from Food and Fibre Gippsland. She explained the dryland lucerne variety demonstration which includes dormancy classes 9, 6, 5, and 3.

Valley Seeds agronomist, Casey Willis, Sale, supervises the forage and cereal variety trials. She is pictured with Toongabbie producer, Rowan Paulet.