Picking a winner is hard. Our BCG staff social punters’ club is evidence of that. (Full disclosure of personal monies spent available from James (Waterhouse) Murray.)
Since returning to BCG, I have enjoyed re-connecting with farmers across the region, discussing with them their businesses, challenges and successes. What has become evident is that in the endeavour to improve farming systems, there is no one clear path to success. No one winner to pick.
Some farmers are realising improvements through increased efforts in seeding setups, whilst others have placed greater emphasis on disease management through rotation and variety selection.
One farmer I spoke to is chasing improvement through timing of operations, paying close attention to the optimum flowering windows for various crop types.
I was chatting to a Warracknabeal member – socially distanced, of course – in the main street of Birchip recently. He was en route from finishing sowing at another property some distance away. For his business, achieving success and spreading risk involves geographic diversification.
Interestingly, one farmer I spoke to had found increased efficiencies in paying an IT specialist to come in and completely revamp the home office computer set up. The same business had dedicated two days to converting office chaos into calm, with labelled folders and files and the implementation of a system to manage the farm paperwork. This single effort had already borne fruit: ‘This investment has reduced stress levels, improved decision making and saved the business money’.
These strategies are all winners.
BCG too has the challenge of picking the next areas of investment that will unearth ‘winners’ for our members and Australian farmers more broadly.
BCG continues to focus on applied agronomic research aimed at identifying practices producing information that can assist in decision making. These are in the areas of weed management, oaten hay production, integrated pest management, plant establishment, nitrogen management, new varieties, pulse crop agronomy … The list goes on.
Now more than ever, in the search for improvement, BCG continues to communicate via the website, webinars, technical bulletin and its active social media presence.
Fortunately, I love to talk!
Where to next? Though challenging, the process of deciding our path is also exciting. Regenerative Agriculture has been a recent focus: how its principles align with current practice and the ways in which evidence gaps are preventing its widespread adoption.
We are also confronting the ongoing issue of connectivity, identifying strategies to help farmers overcome the loss of income due to poor internet service phone coverage.
Does the future lie in value-adding? How can BCG support its members to navigate this option or perhaps just help identify what some of the options might be?
And what of farm data? What data is available? How may it best be used? Who wants to “own’ it?
So much to think about.
As we enjoy a decile 7+ start to cropping across the Wimmera Mallee, I encourage you to ponder which of these concerns is most vital to you and your enterprise. Or have you something totally different occupying your attention? Please communicate your ideas and concerns with BCG as we work together to answer the question: where to next?
Like all punters, we aim to make the best decision, taking into account as many ideas and options as we possibly can. No guarantees in this game, but we keep striving.