The tale of two months

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Excellent rains over the last fortnight has given farming in North West Victoria a magnificent start. This is the second key rain window that has delivered the goods, with September 2016 one of the wettest on record for many areas.

For many farmers, the significant April rainfall probably came a bit sooner than ideal given the long harvest which pushed into January. Therefore jobs planned for February began in March, and so on, but how could you knockback 50mm plus at the end of April?

While you would presume the rainfall would make life easier, the reality of the situation is for many it means more hard work and calculated decisions to try and optimise the outcomes for the coming year. The rain, whilst important, is only a small part of successful farming.

Regardless of what the rest of the season brings rain wise, it is the in-season and forward planning decisions that set up farm business success. Investing in decision-making support is a key part.  

Greater investigation is currently being undertaken into the role of data in decision-making processes to provide insight and support to farmers. BCG is exploring this by establishing if there is a value proposition for farmers to collect and actively manage data created by machinery, which is automatically collected and corresponds with paddock records.

When BCG members were asked at the Trials Review Day in February, 75% indicated they have yield monitors but only 25% use this information to support decision making. The challenge here is that the value is not clear to invest time and money in doing so. Trying to identify this value proposition for farmers is where BCG is currently investing time.

As part of BCG delivering on it strategic initiatives, work is occurring in building capability in digital and precision agriculture. This is supported by the BCG weather station program which is now heading into series two. Series two will include a new version of the Davis Advantage Pro weather station which enables soil moisture data to be collected. For more information on the weather station project, contact the BCG office on 03 5492 2787.

BCG values the opportunity to work with organisations including GRDC and several partner organisations in shaping the research and application of the research to ensure it is developed and demonstrated in a way that makes a difference on-farm. We continue to strive to improve the prosperity of Australia’s broadacre farmers through science based research, and extension.

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