Farmers seeking advice on the upcoming cropping season were given the chance to hear from industry leaders at an event organised by Australian Consolidated Milk.
Notman Pasture Seeds owner Peter Notman from Gippsland and dairy farmers in Walcha NSW said water efficiency and cost had made it harder on farmers in the region who wanted to get the maximum out of winter feed.
Mr Notman said farmers should sow a forage cereal that could be grown for less and that cows could graze, rather than a seed-grain cereal.
“If they believe they’ll have a bit more water until late October they could grow annual rye grasses, which wouldn’t have as much feed for their first grazing, but tend to thicken during the season,” Mr Notman said.
“If they believe they’ll run out moisture in October, plant something that will grow four weeks later than that date, because if things change and you do get rainfall, you can’t pull what you’ve got back out of the ground.”
The consensus from the farmers was to plant in mid-March, with larger seeded material planted first.
Mr Notman said to organise seeding earlier, as farmers in northern Australia would start sowing immediately, after recent rain.
Agriculture Victoria’s seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey's seasonal outlook for farmers in the Goulburn Valley showed a lack of summer rain.
“Going into pre-watering, it’s dry as a cracker underneath, it’s going to take as much water as can fill that profile up,” Mr Grey said.
He said the seasonal climate forecast had no certainty at this time of year and that anything could happen.
“Climate predictions for the next three months are at the lowest skill level at this time of the years because the oceans aren’t doing much and so we are in a climate pattern influenced by the weather, which has a predictability of about seven days.”
The event was held on February 20, sparked by a local organic farmer who sought help from his ACM field representative.
ACM general manager commercial Peter Jones said the event was created to move towards a healthy and productive industry.
“We encourage our suppliers to look at input costs and risks to their business, in this case, we're looking at pasture production,” Mr Jones said.
“If we can help them to improve that, it will help overall production.
“Manufacturers and suppliers are all in this together, it's been a tough time in Victoria recently.”