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Below is a list of BCG related news stories. If you would like to suggest a news item, please email BCG with the details of your event.

October

Financial planning after a challenging season

As the cropping season draws to a close many growers are facing the harsh reality of significantly lower-than-expected yields and the fact that it may be 15 months until the business receives its next income injection. After an excellent start, the season has been disappointing, particularly in the southern Mallee and northern Wimmera where, after battling aphid infestations and several frost events, already stressed crops received virtually no rain in August or September. The addition of some very warm and windy weather only exacerbated the situation, and consequently crops across the region have suffered. Despite the less-than-favourable outlook, growers are being encouraged to think about the next season and to adjust financial plans accordingly. Financiers and financial counsellors across the region are strongly recommending that farm managers identify and address any potential challenges early, and, in conjunction with their bank or financial institution, make a plan for the next 15 months. The first step Simply acknowledging that it has been a tough season and that there may be some financial challenges ahead is the first step towards creating a strategy to overcome any hard times that may be on the horizon. Identify any financial commitments and try to get an accurate picture of the business's financial position. This will help when determining the likely financial position when the 2015 harvest cheque comes in. You're not alone – but you're individual When times are tough, having a drink and a chat with others in a similar situation is a great support mechanism. It is also important to remember that every farm business is different – with different capital structures and risk environments. Understand your individual position and options, focusing on your business, to make informed decisions. Be on the front foot Undertake budgets and financial commitments early and complete multiple budgets which reflect both the best and worst case scenarios. It is vital to be clear about your position in order to explore all the options for the next 15 months or so. The most important point is to not allow pride to get in the way of taking advantage of the support available. It is widely understood that decision-making on-farm is inherently complex. Seeking help Banks, rural financial counsellors and other support service are available to work with farmers to help them manage their finances. Now is the time to start communicating with your financier who will appreciate a commitment to remaining proactive in dealing with issues before they arise. The Rural Financial Counselling Service is a specialist service established to assist farming families and small businesses. They can provide urgent assistance, financial assistance, business planning and succession planning. Visit www.ruralfinancialcounselling.org.au for your local Rural Financial Counsellor or phone (03) 5442 2424. Assistance for farmers experiencing financial hardship is also available through the Australian Government's 'Farm Household Allowance' initiative. Information about this scheme is available at: www.humanservices.gov.au Farmers should contact their local municipal office for other support services in their area. At BCG we are communicating with our partners and working with local, state and federal government to high-light the challenges facing the region. The BCG team is keen to listen to, and work with, growers to help them through this period and to ensure the range of opportunities that 2015 offers can be taken advantage of. To talk to a BCG staff member, phone (03) 5492 2787.

Farm300 free workshop series for red meat producers

MLA and the Australian Department of Agriculture invite sheep and beef producers to participate in the farm300 program. The program is designed to deliver improvements in productivity whilst reducing the GHG emission intensity on farm.

Making use of failed crops with grazing

Successive frosts and lack of rain has hindered crops in the Southern Mallee and Northern Wimmera this season. Considerations should be made to graze the paddock to salvage some economic value and to manage the stubble for the following sowing operation.

Support for farmers

A number of organisations and rural support agencies are available to help farmers negotiate the challenges of a disappointing cropping season.

Farmers access local research at BCG spring crop walks

Spring crop walks at the Quambatook (3 October) and Nhill (9 October) research sites provided the opportunity for Wimmera and Mallee farmers to engage in valuable discussions with BCG staff and local advisors around variety choices, disease management and crop nutrition. Despite a challenging season for most, farmers and advisors were keen to discuss how research trials are progressing and look ahead to what could be implemented in following seasons. The Quambatook BCG and AGRIvision Consultants research site hosted 35 people on Friday 3 October with CSIRO's James Hunt leading the discussion, particularly around variety management. BCG livestock coordinator Dannielle McMillan said farmers were shown through the early sown wheat varieties which realised that variety choice was the biggest factor in sowing early, and Scout sown on 6 May looks like it will yield the highest. -Frost damage on varieties is very visual in this trial and it is a good thing for growers to be able to see how it is affecting different varieties,- she said. AGRIvision Consultants Luke Maher, Jaron Bennet and Craig Muir highlighted Scout, Yitpi, Mace and Kord as the best variety choices for the Quambatook area. Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) plant pathologist Grant Hollaway described the current seasonal conditions as creating the perfect environment for crown rot. White heads and honeycomb base of stems indicate the presence of crown rot and the disease is best managed by implementing rotational options. -Although crown rot is not a disease high on people's radar, it may have a major impact in some areas this season- he said. Approximately 40 BCG members and Agritech Rural clients gathered at the Nhill BCG/Agritech Rural research site on 9 October to discuss variety and nutrition management, as well as a special spray workshop. BCG researchers Claire Browne and Cam Taylor shared their knowledge on wheat varieties while Agritech Rural's Rob Launder and Westech Ag's Dan Colbert were on hand to provide valuable local perspective. Varieties to consider for the Nhill region include Corack, Derrimut and Scout, but remember that a variety is only as good as it is managed. A special feature on the day included a spray workshop focusing on spray efficacy particularly with high stubble loads. Craig Day from Spray Safe & Save discussed key techniques growers can implement today to increase efficacy. By understanding weed and stubble load, farmers are able to choose the right nozzle, for the right job and the right weather. Additionally, ensure correct calibration to deliver the right rate, particularly of outside spray nozzles and along fence lines. -Consider spraying fence lines separately in order to increase chemical rotations,- -Some small changes might buy you a couple more years with your current chemistry.- Craig said. BCG spring crop walks were again highly valued by all involved, giving farmers the opportunity to access local research trials, hear directly from researchers and advisors and see first-hand the results in their local area.

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