Birchip P-12 School was transformed into the agricultural epicenter of north western Victoria last Thursday when BCG hosted its 18th Grain Research Expo.
Farmers, researchers and industry exhibitors spent a full day attending discussion sessions, watching demonstrations, checking out a vast array of new products and services on display, or simply catching up with neighbours, colleagues and friends.
State Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, officially opened the day.
Mr Walsh, who has been a regular at the Expo for many years, praised BCG for staging the event.
The audience also heard from new GRDC southern panel chairman Keith Pengilley who emphasised the importance of farming groups to Australian agriculture.
This year BCG expanded the event with a fourth discussion room added to cater for the wide range of topics being covered on the day.
Agricultural specialists working in the fields of agronomy, weather forecasting, business management, information technology, grain marketing and agricultural science told farmers about their newest products, findings and information.
BCG chief executive officer David Chamberlin said the Expo provided farmers with valuable information to help improve their businesses.
“Everyone should leave this event with at least one idea or tip they can use to improve the efficiency of their farm businesses,” he said.
“But beyond that, we are now looking at ‘the next big thing’… which could be technology.”
Mr Chamberlin said the event also provided agribusinesses with a venue to showcase their products and services and for researchers to present their latest findings.
Among the most popular attractions at the event were business management focused sessions that covered succession planning and farm expansion (buying versus leasing versus share-farming).
Also popular with farmers were discussions about farm software, apps and other farm tools and, as always, the weather and seasonal forecast.
Livestock presentations and demonstrations attracted graziers and mixed farmers.
Key livestock topics included electronic tagging (EID) and sheep genetic selection.
A tagging demonstration held outside, allowed farmers to see first-hand how the electronic ear tags and associated equipment worked.
Novelty attraction, Jamie and Kim’s Mobile Zoo, was popular with children and adults alike who relished the chance to hold a reptile, pet a sugar glider or event cuddle a wombat.
A gourmet sausage-making demonstration presented by Bourke’s Butchers, was another highlight.
Making his stage début, Steve Bourke and his team made, cooked and presented pork, herb and garlic; chicken, lime and cracked pepper; lamb, rosemary, feta and sundried tomato; and traditional sausages. The audience, who sampled each sausage variety, certainly appreciated their efforts.
An afternoon political forum attracted the biggest crowd of the day with locals, media and political supporters filling the marquee to hear from the six candidates standing for the Federal seat of Mallee.
The, at times, robust debate, gave Mallee residents a chance to assess the candidates and put their issues to them.
The Expo concluded with complementary ‘BCG beer’ and savouries. It was a fitting end to another successful BCG event.