Cropping

Resilience put to test

By Country News

Tough is the word Grains Research and Development Corporation Northern Region Panel member Andrew McFadyen is using to describe the current seasonal conditions across much of NSW’s grain growing regions.

He said reasonable rain was needed in the next three to four weeks to give winter crops a fighting chance after a dry summer and autumn.

‘‘Grain growers are a resilient group, but the current situation is testing everyone in the agricultural sector, including regional communities,’’ Mr McFadyen said.

‘‘In seasons like this, it is really important to remember we are all in this together and it’s always rained. It will turn around this time too.

‘‘In the meantime, I believe we have to think outside the square, find ways to keep busy, create alternative incomes and reach out for help when we need it.’’

While he admitted the organisation could not make it rain, the GRDC had resources at https://bit.ly/2WItQhO that might help growers dealing with dry times, such as farm business management information, evaluating planting pros and cons in dry times and mental health resource links.

‘‘Most panel members are involved in the grains industry either as growers or as farm advisers or researchers, so we know first-hand the challenges that come with a season like this one,’’ Mr McFadyen said.

‘‘We are also conscious that for many growers this is the second or third year they’ve struggled to get winter crop in.’’

GRDC Northern Region Panel member Roy Hamilton, who owns a 4400ha mixed farming operation at Rand in the southern Riverina, said heavy rain in early May caused some soil issues and hampered the emergence of canola crops.

‘‘We had 48mm in one rainfall event in May and have had none since,’’ Mr Hamilton said.

‘‘This brings the total rainfall for the year to just 100mm, with many growers opting for safer cereal crops, such as wheat and barley, over canola this season.

‘‘But the fact is all these crops need rain now and we haven’t had any follow-up.’’