COLLABORATION was the key theme at the Grower Group Alliance (GGA) conference held in Perth last week.
Representatives from 45 grower groups within the GGA network met for the conference which included a wide range of speakers from throughout the country.
GGA strategic advisory group chairman Clancy Michael also took the opportunity to announce his retirement from the role, after 14 years at the helm.
AgKnowledge consultant and former Kondinin Group chief executive officer Peter Cooke spoke on the emerging trends, big changes and opportunities for grower groups.
He said the value that grower groups delivered was often not recognised and membership costs were a small price to pay to access local R&D information.
"When it comes to membership, there's essentially a price barrier of about $200 a year at best," he said.
"But at the end of the day there should be another zero on the end of that number due to the value that the grower groups deliver.
"They deliver significant value to a farming business and provide them with the information to help make their decision about which crop to plant, when to plant and they only spend a couple of hundred (dollars) per year.
"Compare that to what they spend for their consultancy, accounting and marketing costs."
Mr Cooke said there were also opportunities for collaboration across grower groups to ensure they could use funding more effectively.
"It is about how we get the right people engaged, how we get the leadership needed to grow the group, how to anticipate the future needs and making sure grower groups have a seat at the table when determining R&D for the State," he said.
"Look at what functions could be shared across the group such as database management, insurance, sponsorship, intellectual property, accounting and auditing.
"Try and avoid duplication because at the moment everyone is trying to do their own thing.
"There are some really strong synergies between what grower groups are trying to achieve and sharing some of this will make funding go further."
Other speakers at the conference included Kimberley Pilbara Cattleman's Association executive officer Catherine Marriott, AMPS Agribusiness chief executive officer Nigel Herring, Federation University senior research fellow Dr Angela Murphy and a keynote address by Rural Bank chief executive officer Alexandra Gartmann.
This year, $17.4 million was available to WA grower groups through the Grower Group R&D Grants Program.
The program is a major part of the Agricultural Sciences R&D Fund Royalties for Regions program managed by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Almost $7m was awarded to 20 growers groups as part of round one of the program.