Vic. TopCroppers place in faith in group mentality

27 Jul, 1999 11:02 PM
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AUSTRALIA's top TopCroppers, the Wallup group from the Victoria Wimmera, believes the farmers group concept has more to offer than just monitoring and measuring. The Wallup group was in WA last week to meet some of its WA counterparts as part of its reward for being named the best TopCrop group in Australia. Group leader Tim Bolwell said the focus of the group had shifted away from basic monitoring and taken the next step to more analytical processes to improve yield and achieve that "top crop". "Monitoring remains one of the main things and the individuals are doing that on their own but, as a group, if you get into that aspect too much, you can tend to lose out in other areas," he said. "Now the focus is about discussing some of the problems and finding answers to why your neighbour's crop is 20 bags, and yours is 12," he said. Mr Bolwell said the majority of growers in the Wallup group were involved in continuous cropping regimes and had been hit relatively hard by two or three tough seasons. "We have had two dry years, as well as the wipeout of our chickpea crop by the aschochyta, and this has forced many farmers to reassess their situation," he said. This had prompted a back to basics approach. "There has been a move out of the high risk, high input cropping systems, into more sound systems incorporating oilseeds and pulses," he said. "And this is where we see the role of TopCrop, in helping to develop and understand these sound rotations." While the far heavier soils and smaller farming units prevent a distinct correlation between the farmers visited in Tenindewa leg of their tour, Mr Bolwell said the threat of herbicide resistance rang true for both groups. "We have hit the wall now with resistance and the only thing in favour with that in our system is the number of crops we can grow, which adds that flexibility," he said. "But we have been able to learn a lot about tackling that, by what the farmers are doing over here."

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