Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 058 October-November 2005 - North
26 Grower groups / Commentary Knowledge-sharing n Western Australia's grainbelt is an ecologically diverse 320,000-square kilometre region with soil types ranging from sand plains to clay, and a rainfall pattern that leaves some soils waterlogged and others so dry they are constantly at risk of blowing away. Management of this diverse region, which produces 40 per cent of Australia's grain, is in the hands of numerous rural groups, research organisations and individual growers, all of which are aware that effective communication is vital for everyone's progress. This led to the formation of the Grower Group Alliance, a non-profit, farmer-driven organisation set up to enhance the activities of regionally-based grower groups. Grower Group Alliance co-ordinator Tracey Gianatti says the Alliance enables growers to access the latest information and research: "We try to achieve this by establishing formal communication pathways between growers, researchers and industry," she explains. Also speaking at the forum was the Liebe Group sponsorship officer and GRDC Western Panel member Merrie Carlshausen, who suggested there are opportunities for larger groups to maximise their resources by branching into neighbouring areas with similar ecological circumstances. She said that small satellite groups could pay a membership fee to access the Liebe Group's administration, which offsets the satellite group's running costs and provides extra revenue for Liebe Group to complete relevant work on ground. "For example, the Liebe Group has satellite groups in Ballidu and Kalannie that use our resources," she said. "In return we can increase our membership and branch out to other areas, which leads to more diversity in our trials. It's a win-win situation for all involved. "The Liebe Group was established to make sure that research and development remains local, relevant and a high priority to the area's growers. The group takes a whole systems approach when making decisions about technology and information." A contrasting position was later presented by vice-president of the Mingenew Irwin Group, Chris Foster, who explained how his group faced a potential problem recruiting new members within the area. "We have a 95 per cent membership rate in Mingenew and 70 per cent in Irwin and need to branch out to sustain growth, but surrounding areas lack ecological similarities," he said. "If we go too far east we are in a completely different catchment, due to different soil and rainfall type, which means we'd be better branching out north and south." GRDC Research Code MIG00008 For more information: Tracey Gianatti, 08 6488 3410, firstname.lastname@example.org Communication is seen as increasingly important in helping growers stay abreast of change. Trent Carslake reports on moves in WA to bring grower groups closer together GROUND COVER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2005 Marcus Oldham College "Developing Professionals in Agriculture" RURAL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM • Bachelor of Business (Agricultural Management) - 4 years • Advanced Diploma of Farm Business Management - 3 years AGRIBUSINESS PROGRAM • Diploma of Agribusiness - 1 year MARCUS OLDHAM COLLEGE 145 PIGDONS ROAD, WAURN PONDS, VICTORIA PH: (03) 5243 3533 FAX: (03) 5244 1263 www.marcusoldham.vic.edu.au GRDC Western Panel member and Liebe Group sponsorship officer, Merrie Carlshausen, at the Grower Group Alliance Forum in Fremantle. PHOTO: TRENT CARSLAKE Canberra Commentary By RICHARD COLBECK, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry n As Australian farmers continue to face declining terms of trade, improved productivity is becoming increasingly important. Productivity gains will ensure Australian grain farmers remain profitable and internationally competitive and the grains industry remains a leader in Australia's agricultural sector. The key to the grains industry keeping pace has been research and development. The Australian Government believes R&D is not only fundamental to Australia's economic prosperity, but is also the key to the long-term sustainability and profitability of our rural industries and the viability of many regional communities. R&D has underpinned annual growth rates of between two to four per cent in many agricultural sectors for the past 20 years. The grains industry has been at the forefront of productivity improvements in agriculture. The grains industry has a strong record of identifying and adopting innovation, as shown by technological advances initiated through the GRDC -- and the Australian Government has an important role in helping the industry meet its strategic challenges through R&D. By maintaining its matching funding policy, for example, the Government has made a firm commitment to rural Research and Development Corporations. In 2003--04, the Government contributed about $42 million to the GRDC alone. Co-investment by industry and the Australian Government in R&D is a key to the success of the rural RDC model. 'THE GRAINS INDUSTRY HAS A STRONG RECORD OF IDENTIFYING AND ADOPTING INNOVATION' It is important that industry drives its R&D program. I believe that growth in the Australian grains industry is directly related to its long-term commitment to R&D, and I have confidence in the current RDC model and your partnership with the Australian Government. The Australian Government welcomed the initiative of industry, which was sponsored by the GRDC, to develop the grains industry strategy, Towards a Single Vision. Developing a common vision and strategic long-term approach to respond to key opportunities and challenges is important for the ongoing competitiveness and sustainability of your industry. The success of Single Vision will be dependent on industry-wide support, ensuring the implementation of mechanisms that deliver meaningful outcomes for growers. Finally, I congratulate the GRDC for its participation in the recent 'World's Best Food and Fibre' forum. And I particularly thank Terry Enright for his role as Chair of Chairs. The forum provided an occasion for RDCs, government, industry and consumers to showcase the contribution R&D is making to primary industry productivity. The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that R&D is delivering practical and commercial outcomes and is undertaken in response to the current and emerging market demands affecting your industry. R&D THE KEY TO GROWTH Grower group members were recently addressed by a range of the Alliance's research provider and funding partners at its annual forum, held at the Fremantle Sailing Club. Mick Poole, program leader for Mediterranean Crops and Pastures at CSIRO, said grower groups help CSIRO to test research priorities, improve access to research sites and provide a ready- made audience for results. However, he said there are now a lot of grower groups and an issue they face is that the costs associated with running a group can be high.
Ground Cover 059 December-January 2006 - North
Ground Cover 057 August-September 2005 - North