Recent comments by: nswnotill
Agribuzz with David Leyonhjelm
There are some reasonable arguments in this piece, with which most of us will agree. Pity the same thing cannot be said about David's policy on guns.
Many of these so called ‘free trade’ agreements are not ‘free trade’ at all. They have many add-ons, and exceptions which favour some, to the disadvantage of others. In some cases our ability to control our own sovereign rights are overruled by the rules and laws of other nations. Agricultural tariffs , patents, and pricing of various commodities can be dictated by foreign governments. Not good enough Andrew. Better the devil you know, than the devil you do not know.
It is typical political double speak. CSIRO is having a significant downsizing, with seniors retiring, and others resigning to go elsewhere. New appointments are on short term contracts. The agricultural community will soon feel the effects of these cuts.
One example of a successful agricultural corporate is a US based irrigated cotton outfit with operations in 3 N NSW valleys. More recently this corporate has become more diversified with other commodities having a significant area of the cropland. They have been operating here for around 40 years. However they have a vertically integrated organisation, with ginning and marketing arms to supplement the growing segment. They also handle cotton for other growers and in my opinion are good corporate citizens. In some cases it can be done.
I agree with David Sackett. In my opinion, the best model is what I term the 'corporate family farm'. This is a relatively large operation operated by an extended family unit, sometimes with paid staff as well. Different family members are responsible for various enterprises such as grain, livestock, irrigation, intensive feeding etc. The extended family prospers in good years, and rides out the poor years in 'care and maintenance' mode. Family succession planning ensures that the outfit survives in the long term.
The best model for Australian agriculture is in my opinion the ‘corporate family farm’. A large efficient outfit that has the ‘X’ factor ( family labour and work ethic). This is already happening in areas such as Liverpool Plains where 70% of the area is owned by 30% of the farmers. Contrast this with ‘PrimeAg’ the farming enterprise set up as a listed conglomerate with many large company farms. It never made any money and was eventually wound up.
Dr Morris is right. Australia needs a base level of R & D to continue the development of new crop varieties to keep in front of the changing spectrum of plant diseases and weeds. Any letup may mean that some crop industries may collapse if resistant varieties are not continually released. At the same time more restrictions are being put on pesticide use as older products are being phased out, with no replacements in sight. We only just 'got out of jail' with the equine flu incident and another scare of that magnitude may mean too few ag and/or vet professionals to handle any future crisis.
Major General Jeffery is urging farmers to embrace land management change to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.
Perhaps he fails to note the enormous changes that farmers have already initiated in the Australian landscape over the last 20 years.
Most Australian farmers have converted to conservation farming systems with resulting improvement in water and soil management.
Soil erosion has been minimised, and farmers are growing more food and fibre with less water than ever before.
Much of the land management changes are already with us, and Aussie farmers should be congratulated for their ready adoption of conservation farming practices.
Regarding the ongoing debate about GM crops have a look at http://africanagriculture.blogspo t.com/2009/03/resistance-to-gm-cr ops-falling.html Some innovative research with GM technology in Africa looks to overcome the scourge of maize streak virus, which can regularly cause up to 90% yield loss in the crop in Africa. All the basic research being done in Africa too! I am sure that GM breeding technology such as this can greatly assist plant breeders all over the world to beat diseases like this.
I have not read the good doctor's book but having seen the media report and the comments I consider that if there are any 'nasties' in the food we eat than perhaps it is post farm gate processing that is the culprit.
Australian farmers are become more efficient, producing more food and fibre with less water, due to improved varieties and improving agronomy. If the so called 'toxic' pesticides were further restricted or removed from the scene in modern agriculture, we would all starve.
Higher crop yields due to better technology mean more crop residues which in turn gives better soil protection against erosion and better water storage.
This is what is vital especially in years of below average rainfall.
Well done! it is the same story everywhere that legume and/or pulse crops and legume pastures and forage are in my opinion the key to successful agriculture in Aust. Whether it is clover pasture in Southern Aust., pulse crops in the grain belt or peanuts in Bundaberg it is the same story. Aussie farmers must get out of the cereal only rut and move into legume rotations. Grow your own Nitrogen as well!
Mr. Milne may have had a good result in 2014. It depends on the season. Narrow rows can lead to higher canopy humidity and this adds to the risk of foliar diseases. In the year 2014, I doubt row spacing would have much impact on foliar disease. In a wet spring year, foliar disease would be a worry and managing Botrytis Grey Mould and Ascochyta Blight in a dense crop would be difficult if nigh on impossible. Research was carried jointly by QPDI and NSWDPI on row spacing in the late 1990’s. Results then showed that wide rows performed as well as narrow rows and were superior in more arid areas
I find it ironic that this call for radical change comes from 'WA Pastoralists and Graziers'. It may have more credibility coming from a grains group.
In my opinion GRDC is a good model for allocation of public/grain funds. We are in an era of lower support by Govts. and any radical change could mean the collapse of some commodities. The recent example of the big change in pulse/disease spectrum was rescued by quick GRDC funding to overcome the crisis. This this was not done, there would be no chickpea industry in N. Aust. today.
Re Chickpeas: Govt. plant breeders together with Govt. pathologists, funded principally by GRDC.
I agree with X. Our model is not perfect, but it is heaps better than practically any other system world wide.
About 12 years ago, a new and virulent biotype of the Ascochyta fungus appered in chickpeas in NW NSW and Qld. All varieties were very susceptible, and the industry was on the verge of collapse. However a dedicated team of crop breeders and pathologists - principally funded by GRDC - had new varieties and agronomic techniques available within 2-3 years. Without this vital financial support the crisis would not have been averted. The chickpea industry is back to 'normal' (until the next nasty comes along).
R. & D. for grains research is already in a parlous state. with State Govt. departments and CSIRO cutting back. We need a critical level of funding to combat the ever changing spectrum of disease, pests, and weeds (for example) amongst other factors. Further cuts in any investment (either Govt. or grower) may mean the collapse of some grain types if there is further reduction. Changing resistance spectrum in nature is a fact of life and if we drop our guard we are in a parlous state. Stem rust resistance in wheat is a prime example. UG99 in East Africa is a recent episode.
Do not forget that the Govt. (taxpayer) contributes around 40% of the funding for GRDC. As such this stakeholder wants to have a part say as well. If you seek to lessen the input of the taxpayer then you risk reduction in taxpayer contribution, and as a result less overall money available for grains R. & D.
I find the weed control/weed resistance saga interesting. I am sure that sheep (if intelligently used) can in many cases be useful alternative system for weed control in fallows. i know from personal experience that sowthistle is the first weed that sheep eat when introduced to a fallow with weeds. African sheep breeds (such as Dorpers) are browsers as well as grazers and attack some woody weeds, They also do not require shearing.
At the risk of being labelled a 'heretic' by some grain growers, in my opinion the strategic use of animals ( particularly sheep) as a method of weed control in many situations. Sheep, with their advanced 'weed seeker' technology can be used successfully in fallow fields to control edible weed species, whilst adding kilos to their live weight at the same time.
I endorse Susans comments. I would love to see the day when 50% of the nations crop land is devoted to pulses, forage legumes, or legume based pasture.It would greatly reduce our dependence on bag N, and also act as a break phase for disease and weed control. Overall soil health would also be improved. 'Bring it On' I say.
In my opinion, the best model is what I call the 'corporate family farm'. It is a large family run outfit has what many call the 'X' factor, which is a commitment to work hard, and ride out the vagarities of weather of oscillating commodity prices. I find it interesting that Peter Corish et al started up Primag. , listed on Stock Exchange, and purchased many farming properties to operate as a listed corporation. It did not work and has been disbanded. No "X' factor. The same can be said for many corporate farms.