BREAKING records, the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) Grain Research Update, held in Goondiwindi Qld, last week attracted 400 advisors, growers and industry to the popular two day event.
With a focus on delivering the outcomes of research carried out by the GRDC's partner organisations, including the CSIRO, universities and state departments of agriculture, the border event is considered a must attend by agronomists and consultants from across both northern NSW and Queensland.
While one-day updates, targeted predominately at farmers, were also held in a number of regional locations, this year saw a strong contingent of farmer attendees at two-day events, as grain growers sought out research to better inform their management decisions through challenging conditions.
A regular attendee of the Coonabarabran and Dubbo Updates, Coonamble farmer, Tony Single said this year he travelled to Goondiwindi, Qld as his cropping enterprises tended toward a more northern farming system.
Mr Single said he thought the stand-out presentation was by Australia National University (ANU), climate applications scientist, Dr Steven Crimp on the impact of climate change on northern farming systems.
"The climate change presentation was full of practical information," he said.
"It is a topic where there are lots of if's, but's and maybe's but the information was well presented and gave us an understanding of the future risks involved."
In his presentation, Dr Crimp said farmers and their advisors have a vital role in designing farming systems that will improve responses and adapt to a more variable climate.
"There is a very strong correlation between concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperature, that is equivocal," he said.
"There is a clear warming signal in Australia's temperature record as well.
"This contributed to the third warmest year on record, 2018, where we had a series of heatwaves in January, April, November and December and a five-fold increase in extreme temperature events.
"Rainfall is declining.
"There is a trend toward a later break in season in the Goondiwindi region, as well as an increase in the period between rainfall events."
Dr Crimp said the implications on grain productivity were serious and farmers needed to consider transformational change to their farming systems and business.
"Adaption is not just about thinking about the incremental or tactical changes, but it is really important to think about the transformational changes," he said.
"If you are trying to maintain the current system in a changing climate it may lead to maladaption and increased risk."
In his paper Dr Crimp said there were a number of ways farmers could adapt to climate change, including the implementation of zero tillage, move to more opportunistic planting rotations and appropriate selection of varieties to match new planting windows.
"There are also longer-term decisions at a family farm level, to sell up, to buy more land, where to invest. These are especially pertinent for farmers in low rainfall regions," he said
Mr Single said other useful presentations at the update included cover cropping, by Queensland Department of Agriculture, researcher Dr David Lawrence.
"The data gave me some confidence to implement cover cropping on my farm if the circumstances were right," he said.
Mungindi grower and farm consultant Mick Brosnan said the two-day event had become an essential learning event.
“If you are going to take two days out of your business each year, to improve your knowledge and hear the latest research information, Goondiwindi Updates are the place to go,” he said.
“Staying informed is critical in our job, and it is even more so when conditions are dry and you are trying to make decisions with your growers that deliver the most bang for a buck.”