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, 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.”
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.”