Australia: Farming After Fire workshops deliver timely support to growers

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06 April 2022, Australia: Western Australian growers and advisers in fire-affected areas of the central and lower wheatbelt had access to timely cropping decision support and information at workshops in Corrigin and Wickepin last week, following widespread fires in the region earlier in this year.

Held by Facey Group (Wickepin, 8am–12pm) and Corrigin Farm Improvement Group (Corrigin, 2pm–6pm) and supported by a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment, the half-day workshops on 31 March brought together Shire representatives, research scientists, local agribusinesses and growers to provide advice and information on a range of topics to underpin on-farm decisions.

The February fires burnt more than 60,000 hectares of land across the Quairading, Bruce Rock, Corrigin, Kondinin, Narembeen, Narrogin and Wickepin shires, with paddocks left bare and susceptible to soil erosion, farming infrastructure damaged and livestock lost.

Corrigin Farm Improvement Group Executive Officer Veronika Crouch said that the workshops gave growers access to industry experts who presented on topics to inform on-farm decisions that growers need to make going forward.

“The workshops covered issues ranging from weed management, soil erosion and managing soil post-fire, through to farm business topics and monitoring and managing livestock,” Ms Crouch said.

“We also heard from former Shire President and Kukerin/Dumbleyung grower Gordon Davidson on his experiences following the 2004 fires in the area, which was extremely well received. Learning from other growers who have experienced bushfires and bushfire recovery is invaluable.”

The agendas included:

  • Summary of current community position – Cr Des Hickey, Shire President, Shire of Corrigin / Cr Leigh Ballard, Shire President, Shire of Narrogin
  • Farm business support post fire – Natalie Purdy & Phil Edkins, Rabobank Narrogin
  • Weed management post fire – Helen Wyatt, Agronomist, Elders Narrogin
  • Managing soil post fire – Glenn McDonald, Research Scientist, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)
  • Experiences following the Kukerin bushfire 2004 – Gordon Davidson, Kukerin/Dumbleyung grower
  • Pasture recovery and feed budgeting post fire – Phil Barrett-Lennard, AgVivo
  • Monitoring and managing livestock post fire, Andrew Ritchie, Icon Agriculture.

The events were also supported by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), DPIRD and the Wheatbelt Development Commission.

GRDC Grower Relations Manager Elizabeth von Perger said that given fires of this scale are relatively rare in the wheatbelt, uncertainty exists for growers around sowing seed into bare soils, herbicide efficacy in burnt soils, weed management post-fire, managing soil health and machinery and equipment replacement options.

“These GRDC-supported initiatives are vital for growers affected by this year’s fires, who are now facing a range of challenges as they move into seeding. The events have been timed to deliver key insights to those affected to assist them to plan and manage a range of immediate business and agronomic issues,” Ms von Perger said.

“It’s fantastic to see organisations across the primary industries sector partnering with farm improvement groups to deliver these workshops on the ground.”

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