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Agros gather to sow seeds of the future at Ballarat + conference pics

by Neil Lyon, 26 September 2017

MORE than 300 agronomists and researchers from around the nation have gathered in Ballarat, Victoria, for the 18th Australian Agronomy Conference that takes in three days of presentations and a day of field tours.

Agronomy Australia president, Chris Korte.

Agronomy Australia president, Chris Korte, Horsham, Vic, said the conference theme, “Doing more with less”, was a timely focus for the industry.

“It’s important for Australian agriculture to maintain international competitiveness. To keep that competitiveness, you just can’t keep doing the same things. You need to improve,” he said.

Mr Korte said agronomic advisers faced a range of challenges and a period of change that the conference’s 165 presentations sought to address.

“Agronomic advice on things like fertilisers is likely to change, as it is with some crops in America already with companies like Google taking a role in the individual management of paddocks and parts of paddocks,” he said.

“Precision agriculture will be run more by algorithms. That is a real challenge.

“In Australia, the knowledge that goes into those algorithms has to come from local research and what farmers are doing, and it has to be customised for the different areas of Australia which are very variable, particularly with our climate.”

Former CIMMYT director general and GRDC board member, Tim Reeves, Newtown, Vic, GRDC senior regional manager north, Jan Edwards, Toowoomba, Qld, and Central West Farming Systems researcher, Neil Fettell, Condobolin, NSW.

Representing the conference partner, GRDC senior regional manager north, Jan Edwards, outlined to delegates the new direction the GRDC was taking with research support.

“We are an investor in research, not a funder of granter. We are very conscious of the need to build capacity for the research sector,” she said.

“We now put out investments all through the year, as and when we need them. We are in a continuous investment cycle.”

CSIRO research group leader, Peter Thorburn, Brisbane, Qld, and Square v Software Development user experience designer, Vicki Lane, Bendigo, Vic.

Elders agronomist, Adam Hancock, Naracoorte, SA, Agriculture Victoria graduate research officer, Tom Batters, Swan Hill, and Birchip Cropping Group research leader, Claire Browne, Birchip, Victoria.

NSW DPI agronomist, Rohan Brill, Wagga Wagga, NSW DPI leader, Luke Gaynor, Wagga Wagga, and CSIRO chief research scientist, John Kirkegaard, Canberra.

University of Queensland and QAAFI PhD student, Andrew Fletcher, Gatton, University of Adelaide research fellow, Ariel Ferrante, SA, and CSIRO honorary fellow, Tony Fischer, Canberra.

NSW Central Tablelands Local Land Services senior land services officer (pastures), Clare Edwards, Mudgee, NSW DPI agronomy lecturer, Carol Rose, Tocal, and Riverina Local Land Services senior land services officer (pastures), Janelle Jenkins, Tumut.

Charles Sturt University lecturer, Shawn McGrath, and professor, Jim Pratley, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Precision Agriculture consultants, Dean Jones, Ben Fleay and Brendan Torpy, Ballarat, Vic.

CSBP Fertilisers senior agronomist, James Easton, WA, and CSIRO research fellow, John Angus, Stockinbingal, NSW.

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