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July 29th, 2020 - Information Session

With COVID19 changing how we all live and work, this years information session saw LA move to the online era with interstate members and speakers joining members in Keith through the online ZOOM platform to hear the second year seed results from the LA Variety Trial presented by Bridget Doyle (Kalyx), trial water management from LA Executive members Simon Allen and Scott Hutchings, an update on insecticide resistance in RLEM and management options from Paul Umina (cesar) and an overview of a new University of Adelaide lucerne seed wasp project from Alan Mckay (SARDI).  LA also took the opportunity to release their new 5-year Strategic Plan.   

March 3rd,  2020 - LA Variety Trial Field Day

Over 50 people attended bright and early on March 3rd to inspect the trial plots prior to harvest. Presentations were made by LA Executives Simon Allen and Scott Hutchings along with Nic Amos from Kalyx on the water management and herbage results throughout the year. The trip to the trial site was followed presentations by Nicholas Koch from Seed Services and a short Special General Meeting for members.  


July 24th, 2019 – Info Session

Almost 40 members attended the session which released the first year of data from the Variety Trial. LA executives, Simon Allen and Scott Hutchings gave an overview of the trial and the water management. Nic Amos from Kalyx presented the data for the seed and herbage yields. Dr Ainsley Seago from NSW DPI outlined her research into Seed Wasp.


July 10th, 2019 – Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel Tour

LA executive committee members hosted a visit from the panel members who were interested see firsthand the progress of the AgriFutures Funded Variety Trial near Keith and toured the PGG Wrightson facility where they learned about the seed cleaning process. LA thanks Greg Excell, site manager at PGG for conducting the tour.


March 6th, 2019 – Sticky Beak Day

LA’s second grower Sticky Beak Day was hailed as a success, with 6 growers taking part.
This is a tour where all growers talk about their farm enterprise – the good and not so good and allow others to ask questions, so everyone gains insights into different methods and ideas.


February 27th, 2019 – LA Variety Trial Field Day

About 60 attended to see the first-year stand of 31 varieties in full seed. Presentations were made by LA executives, Simon Allen and Scott Hutchings along with Nic Amos from Kalyx on the results from the herbage cuts through the year and the water stress management. The field trip was followed by a gathering at the Keith Footy Club where Bill Greenslade spoke about precision digital solutions, Nicholas Koch from Seed Services explained the data on certified seed production area and Daniela Conesa from DEW explained what is happening with the process around water unbundling.


November 9th, 2018 - Hay Demo Day

Over 40 people attended the hay demonstration day at Brecon where representatives from Feedworks, Palmer Ag and Gazeeker explained the use of the moisture probes and Hay Guard.

The LA AGM Tuesday 11th September 2018

Angus Gidley- Baird, Senior Analyst, Animal Protein, RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness gave us a very interesting insight into the world protein markets and how that impacts Australian producers.
Information on the markets is available through our Gold Sponsor’s Rabobank website.

Mark Lourey, Feedworks, explained what a tour group to the US recently saw with hay making techniques.


June 27th 2018 – Info Session

About 40 growers and industry representatives attended.
The three year lucerne variety trial with a focus on water stress management was launched by LA Executive Committee member, Simon Allen – on whose land the trail is being conducted.
Dr Ainsley Seago gave an update on the seed wasp project and Steve Clark from the Department of Agriculture Victoria spoke about research into grazing management and lucerne palatability.  All of the presenters were questioned by the audience and a lot of data was shared.

March 7th 2018 – Sticky Beak Day

The first LA Grower “Sticky Beak” day - where growers toured around each other’s farms - was a success with participants enjoying the day and saying that it was one of the best things they had attended.  There was a great interchange of ideas both on and off the bus and with the small number involved, people were able to speak freely of their successes and failures.  LA is planning more of these days as a way to get growers to share both good and not so good experiences and ideas.
February 18th 2018 – Harrington Seed Destructor Demo Day
Growers visited a property where lucerne seed was being harvested with a header fitted with the iHSD. A sample of chaff was sent to Dr Ainsley Seago who is conducting the Seed Wasp project for testing to see if any LSW larvae had survived the machine. She reports it did not.

November 11th 2017 -Lucerne Seed Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice for Golden Dodder distributed

Lucerne Australia accessed funding through the Commonwealth Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to develop and implement a national Lucerne Seed Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (COP). Lucerne Australia worked in partnership with Primary Industries and Regions SA and the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources to develop a national COP that focuses on the management and prevention of golden dodder, a weed with potentially serious impacts on the lucerne seed industry. Dissemination of the COP was made through printed copies being sent to the seed cleaning sheds in the seed production area, emails to all LA members and other industry stakeholders and publication on the LA website.

September 12th 2017 – AGM

42 members attended the AGM. 30 then went on a bus tour to Bordertown and the Frances region. Wise Farm Equipment in Bordertown explained how the Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (iHSD) works.  An extensive research program conducted by the University of Western Australia concluded that the seed destructor kills 95 per cent of the weed seeds collected in the chaff. The  tour participants went on to properties where sheep, lamb and lucerne operations were observed as well as hearing a succession planning  presentation and visiting a new 8 stand  shearing shed which also has capacity for 3500 sheep under cover. Another highlight of the tour was seeing a subsoil manuring trial. The day was very interesting and much discussion of what was seen was had over drinks and dinner before the return trip home. 

26th July 2017 Final Fertiliser Report and Info Day

About 40 growers and associate members attended to hear Dr Belinda Rawnsley from AgXtra present the final findings of the 5 year fertiliser trial.

Melissa Rebbeck, Director of Climate and Agricultural Support  provided a very interesting look at the seasonal weather forecast and what influences our weather in the Upper South East.

Farmers are dying at the rate of one evey week, so farm safety should be uppermost in our minds. That was the message from Abigail Hickman from SafeAg Systems. They have developed a farm safety program which is user friendly and designed for farmers by farmers.

1 March 2017 Annual Trail Site Field Day - Keith

The annual Fertiliser Trial Field Day was conducted on the 1st March with growers, marketers and agronomists visiting the site at Brecon Proprietors near Keith.
This is the fifth year of production for the “Evaluating different fertilisers in lucerne seed production” trial and we thank our associate member, AgXtra (formerly Peracto) for managing the trial. Dr Belinda Rawnsley conducted the crop walk and addressed the visitors. Lucerne Australia also wishes to thank RIRDC for continued funding for this trial. A final report on the trial will be available mid-year.

On return to Keith, members and associates heard updates from marketers – PGG Wrightson, Naracoorte Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Seed Genetics International and Kongal Seeds. LA associate members, Seed Services Australia’s Nicholas Koch gave an update on certification.
This was followed by updates on the Seed Wasp Project by Dr Ainsley Seago, an explanation on exotic alfalfa dwarf disease from Professor Ralf Dietzen and an overview of the Dodder Code of Practice project by Nicola Raymond. The afternoon was rounded off with a Men’s Health Forum presented by Dr Brian Norcock.

21 September 2016 AGM Guest Speakers

Seed Wasp
Dr. Ainsley Seago , Collection Manager, Insects, Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute.

Dr Seago is heading up the Seed Wasp Project which has been funded by RIRDC. She is a skilled insect taxonomist and is highly experienced in conducting scientific literature reviews, extracting, amplifying, and analysing insect DNA and working with growers in primary industries.
She gave a very enlightening talk on the project and gave this outline of what will happen.

The project commenced June 2016
Three phases:
1.    Literature review
2.    Develop PCR test for LSW
3.    Glasshouse studies of behavior and life cycle
Field studies: can soil sampling predict LSW numbers
Literature review strategy:
-    All available scientific publications on Bruchophagus roddi (~last 50 years)
-    Closely related and/or ecologically similar wasps
-    biology and control of other insects with similar seed-infesting lifecycles
She went on to explain that the Lucerne Seed Wasp (LSW) is similar in habit to the Citrus gall wasp (CGW) which is controlled by horticultural mineral oil which deters CGW egg-laying. In the southern citrus regions, three sprays of an oil product 10-14 days apart at 0.5% during CGW emergence provided good control.
•    Foliar sprays never, ever work for seed- galling wasps
•    Systemic insecticides work for tree gallers but with a crop like lucerne, you would not want these chemicals used.
- Control of “volunteer” plants is very, very important
- Yellow sticky traps are effective for monitoring
What’s next for this project?
-     Publish academic and lay summaries of lit review
-    Collect more DNA samples across Australian range of LSW
-    Design soil sampling approach to examine correlation(s) between soil “bank” of overwintering wasps and subsequent pops
-    Rubidium chloride labeling : what percentage of LSW are from the “home team” vs. extra-paddock populations?

Pollinator for Profit Project

Professor Andrew Lowe
Deputy Dean – Partnerships and Collaboration
Faculty of Sciences
University of Adelaide

Professor Lowe said that there had been a global decline in the number of pollinators and of native habitat. There has also been a serious threat to the pollinators with colony decline disorder and varroa mite affecting honey bees. The varroa mite has recently been found in New Zealand and the experts expect that with the next 2-5 years it will be in Australia.
The feral honey bee population provides 70% of pollination for crops so a varroa incursion is a major threat.
This project will look at what the native pollinators are – they are not affected varroa if it comes in – and how to revegetate areas to increase the number and efficacy of native pollinators.

The SA part of the project has received the lion’s share of funding because of high value crops like almonds, pears, canola and lucerne being important to the state.

10 February 2016 - Annual Trial Site Field Day

Over 65 grower and associate members attended the 2016 Lucerne Australia trial site field day, which was held in the Keith region of South Australia on Wednesday 10th February. Members travelled by bus to the “Evaluating alternative fertilisers to maximise lucerne seed yield trial” site at Brecon Proprietors. Here, they received the latest results and participated in a crop walk. On return to Keith, members received marketing updates from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Seed Genetics International and Naracoorte Seeds about the forthcoming season. Seed Services Australia also provided an update on their certification services. Attendees also heard from a number of associate member machinery dealers who showcased their products and services, including Kuhn, Bogballe, Sulky and Agrex Kylo spreaders. The event concluded with casual drinks and networking.

24 September 2015 - Field Tour to Seed Distributors

Lucerne Australia facilitated a field tour to Seed Distributors research facility at Penfield Station, Virginia, on Thursday 24th September 2015. Over 20 members participated in this tour, which included an inspection of the four-year NSW DPI & IP Australia lucerne grazing trial and discussion about the results. There was an update on lucerne varieties and overview of their extensive breeding program, including lucerne acid tolerant program. Members also inspected pasture legumes and forage cereal trials. Following an excellent steak lunch, growers viewed the Goldstrike seed treatment demonstration. We thank our supporters of this field tour, ANZ and Landmark as well as hosts Seed Distributors. 

26 June 2015 - Business Forum

Lucerne Australia held a business forum on Friday, 26 June at the Keith Institute. Speakers included Darren Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of  Thomas Foods International (TFI). TFI was established in 1988 and today it has annual revenue well in excess of $1 billion. TFI is Australia’s largest 100% family-owned meat-processing company, exporting to over 80 countries. Based in Murray Bridge, they employ 2,500 people and process 130,000 lambs and sheep, and 7000 cattle each week. They have processing facilities in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

There was also a seed coating and fodder focus with Ashley Fraser from Baker Seed Company at Rutherglen and Bryce Riddell from Multicube Stockfeeds at Yarrawonga. Ashley is a 2012 Nuffield Farming Scholar who manages Baker Seed Company, an Australian family-owned business which has been producing seed for four generations. They have an industry-leading coating plant providing many certified blends. Bryce is also a 2012 Nuffield Scholar who manages  Multicube Stockfeeds. They offer quality hay cubes using premium irrigated lucerne and cereal hay. Their lucerne hay cubes have been densified into a highly palatable 32mm high fibre cube form for both domestic and export markets.

There was also a presentation from Leighton Pearce from Growing Solutions in the Riverland. He highlighted how the latest innovations in agriculture technology, including UAVs, can help deliver production outcomes. He presented cutting edge information, showed a range of UAVs and demonstrated how these new technologies can benefit farmers in the longer term.The forum was followed by a BBQ where growers networked with the speakers.

27 May 2015: Interactive Technology and Social Media Workshop

This event was held on Wednesday, 27th May at the Keith Institute, Keith, SA, with facilitator Alex Milner-Smyth. Participants learnt about:

  • Getting the best out of your smart phone or tablet—knowing your device
  • Cloud technology—What is it, why it can be useful and how to set it up
  • Apps—handy hits for business and agriculture, how to download and select suitable ones
  • Social media—how to use it well with relevance to agriculture
  • This workshop also included demonstrations of apps and programs such as ProductionWise and Dropbox. It was aimed at people wishing to use their device for business and efficiency purposes.

2 March 2015 - Trial Site Field Day

We proudly manage two independent R&D trials for the long-term benefit of grower members and wider industry. They include:

1) Drop-tube irrigated lucerne seed, herbage yield and plant persistence trial
2) Evaluating alternative fertilisers to maximise lucerne seed yield trial

We hosted our annual trial site field day on Monday, 2nd March with 50 growers and industry associate members in attendance. The event included visits to both trial sites, followed by a lunch at Keith, SA, and insights from lucerne seed marketers.

28 October 2014 - Sprayer Day

Lucerne Australia held a 'Sprayer Morning’ at Bordertown Football Club on Tuesday, 28 October from 8-11am. It included special guest speaker Bill Gordon from Lawrence in NSW, who has spent over 20 years working in the area of pesticide application technology area, with the last 12 years as a private consultant focusing on training, extension and research. Bill currently works with industry to discuss application technology and to raise awareness of strategies to improve efficacy and reduce spray drift across Australia. Following the presentation, the group were showcased a range of self-propelled spraying equipment from Case, Hardi, Goldacres and John Deere, courtesy of local machinery dealers O’Connors, Wickham Flower, Farmers Centre and Wise Farm Equipment.

20 October 2014 - Irrigation Workshop

A number of growers attended an Irrigation Workshop at the Keith Institute, SA, on Monday 20 October from 10am-1:30pm with the purpose of improve their system in the lead up to the 2014-15 season. Guest speaker was irrigation specialist Michael Zerk who covered both surface (flood) and pivot systems and how to best utilise those systems for better management and productivity.The workshop also focused on:

  • Aspects of design that affect water use efficiency.
  • Suggestions for improving system performance.
  • System management/monitoring/auditing.
  • System capacity.
  • Application efficiency and water distribution.

Irrigation system attributes were a focus in the context of crop water use, net irrigation requirement and irrigation scheduling. The presentation and discussion also included data gathered from irrigation trial sites at Coombe.

30 September 2014: Grain Storage Workshop

A Grain Storage Workshop was held on Tuesday, 30 September at Naracoorte Seeds, by kind permission of Jamie Tidy and the team. It was held from 8-10am and guest speaker was grain storage specialist Peter Botta. This follows-on from a similar workship held in early-April and was an opportunity for growers to learn more about storing grain and seed.Peter specialises in the practical issues associated with grain storage, including risks of storing grain for both on-farm use and domestic and export markets. The workshop was part of a GRDC grain storage extension project.

4 September 2014: Market Seminar and AGM

Members were invited to attend a seminar being held by Lucerne Australia on Thursday, 4 September 2014, from 2:30pm at the Keith Institute. The theme was “The Australian Lucerne Seed Industry: market history, present-day situation and outlook” and was moderated by Chairman Warrick Thorpe. Speakers included David Hudson from SGA Solutions Pty Ltd, Max Jongebloed from Ag Consult and Tim Teague from Teague Australia. In addition, major marketers also participated. The seminar aimed to have more information available to growers about the history, current situation and outlook for the lucerne seed industry. It included a snapshot of the industry over the past 30 years, our major markets, major trends and the biggest achievements and challenges. It also included the latest market information and current opportunities and threats. A Q&A focused on the future of the industry and what some of the projections might be going forward. Following the seminar, Lucerne Australia held its AGM.

1 April 2014: Grain Storage Workshop

Lucerne Australia hosted a "Grain Storage Workshop – protect your grain quality and value during storage" on 1st April with guest speaker Peter Botta, a grain storage specialist. It was held at the property of grower members Glen and Tania Simpson near Keith. Over 30 growers were in attendance and they gained insights from Peter Botta into grain storage options, how to use silos and grain bags, preventing weevils, aerating grain for cooling and drying, pressure testing silos and storing pulses, oilseeds and pasture seeds, including lucerne.

28 February 2014: Trial Site Field Day

Lucerne Australia proudly manages two vital, independent lucerne trials for the benefit of grower members and wider industry. These are based in the Keith district of South Australia and are supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and industry. They include: 1) Drop-tube irrigated lucerne seed, herbage yield and plant persistence trial; and 2) Evaluating alternative fertilisers to maximise lucerne seed yield.  Lucerne Australia hosted the annual Trial Site Field Day on Friday, 28 February 2014, which included visits to both trial sites, presentations from project managers and updates from major marketers. 

14 November 2013: Annual Symposium, "GM Lucerne: Friend or Foe?"

Our annual symposium was held on Thursday, 14 November at the Keith Institute. The theme was “GM lucerne: friend or foe?” and included speakers both in favour of GM-lucerne and those against. Lucerne Australia does not presently have a formal position on GM-lucerne, but believes that this topic required more awareness and understanding, both from those who advocate Roundup Ready lucerne and those who are anti-GM. Over 150 growers and industry stakeholders attended this event, which provided objective discussion about what it means for growers, seed cleaners, contractors and marketers in the future. The event increased awareness of GM and enabled those in the industry to consider what might be the best options for the Australian lucerne seed industry in the future.

24 October 2013: Hay Baling Demonstration Day

Lucerne Australia hosted a Baling Demonstration Day on 24 October, showcasing baling and raking equipment from local service providers including Farmers Centre and JJ O’Connors. This event was held at Gumbowie near Willalooka, by kind permission of Guy and Sarah Cunningham. The 8AM start included breakfast with bacon and egg rolls, tea, coffee, and Farmers Union Iced Coffee, kindly supplied by Julian Manowski from National Foods. Over breakfast, guest speaker Vicky MacDonald focused on lucerne hay and producing the best quality for the dairy industry. As a dairy consultant, Vicky specialises in ruminant nutrition, combining pastures and supplementary feeding programs for maximum production. Other speakers included John Bullen from Rabobank and Jonathan Joonwaichee from Momentum Energy. There was also a promotion of products linked to the lucerne hay industry showcased by Elders, Landmark and NAS Agribusiness. 

11 September 2013: 'I SPY' Insect Identification Course with Kym Perry

Lucerne Australia members attended an 'I SPY' Insect Identification Course for growers covering mites, aphids, beneficial insects, IPM and monitoring in a ‘hands-on’ practical session on 11 September. The workshop was presented by SARDI Entomology and was proudly supported by Lucerne Australia and the Mackillop Farm Management Group. Included in the course was a complementary 'I SPY' manual.It was held at the Keith Institute with over 30 growers and agronomists in attendance.

24 July 2013: Cost of Production Workshop

A workshop was hosted at Bordertown to enable members to use the cost of production tool that Lucerne Australia launched at the Business Skills Day in 2011. Executive Committee Member Warrick Thorpe went through the program to assist new members and those who wished to re-visit the program.

26 June 2013: Business Skills Day 

Members enjoyed an afternoon of information and networking at our Business Skills Day on Wednesday, 26 June. This event was in partnership with Rabobank and topics included the Personal Property Security Act (PPSA) Register, current market analysis of grains and oilseeds for local conditions, sucession planning, cost of production, debt management and how to chase your money and the launch of the member-only Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guides.  Speakers included Andrew Goode and Andrew Smith from Mellor Olsson, Graydon Chong from Rabobank and Chas Cini from MERS Ltd. The event was held at the Keith Institute and was followed by a BBQ and refreshments.

21 February 2013: Trial Site Field Day

Lucerne Australia proudly manages two vital, independent trials for the long-term benefit of grower members and wider industry. These are based in the Keith district of South Australia and are supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and industry. The trials include: 1) Drop-tube irrigated lucerne seed, herbage yield and plant persistence trial; and 2)  Evaluating alternative fertilisers to maximise lucerne seed yield. Members attended a Trial Site Field Day on Thursday, 21 February. Over 60 were in attendance and participated in paddock inspections and received data with the recent outcomes from both trials. Following the inspections, members heard from seed marketers, who outlined current market conditions and forecasts. The group also heard from representatives from USA-based company Dairylands about current lucerne seed industry conditions and forecasts out of the USA.

29 November 2012: Integrated Pest Management Workshop

Lucerne Australia hosted a Pests and Beneficials Workshop on Thursday, 29 November. Keynote speaker was Lewis Wilson, BSc (Hons) PhD, Program Leader in Cotton Management and Improvement at CSIRO Plant Industry and Program Leader in Cotton Catchment Communities CRC at Narrabri NSW. Lewis was supported by James DeBarro from Alpha Group Consulting, Keith. Over 40 members and local agronomists attended the workshop, which included paddock sweeping and monitoring in the Keith area, identification of predators and beneficial insects, understanding the importance of beneficials and learning more about insect lifecycles and thresholds. All attendees received a copy of a Lucerne Australia Pests and Beneficials Guide as a support tool for the forthcoming season.

16 October 2012: Lucerne Hay Demonstration Day

Lucerne Australia hosted a lucerne hay demonstration day with mowers and rakes on Tuesday, 16 October at Gumbowie, Willalooka, by kind permission of Guy and Sarah Cunningham. There were 55 in attendance, along with four local machinery suppliers who provided equipment, including Wise Farm, O'Connors, Farmers Centre and Wickham Flower. The keynote speaker was Mary-Anne Lattimore, DPI NSW and author of 'Producing Quality Lucerne Hay', a RIRDC-funded publication.

20-21, September 2012: Adelaide Region Field Tour

Lucerne Australia hosted a field tour to the Adelaide-region on 20-21 September. It included tours of primary producer properties, high-profile agri-businesses and a visit to the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. This Institute has the largest concentration of expertise in the southern hemisphere in the areas of plant biotechnology, cereal breeding, sustainable agriculture, wine and horticulture and land management and the tour was well received by all members who attended. There were tours of the lucerne breeding program, an insight to the use of DNA assays to quantify organisms in crop and pasture and the latest research from the oat breeding program department. A dinner was held on the Thursday evening with three presentations from Charlie Goode at Rural Financial Counselling Service SA, Graydon Chong from Rabobank and David Hudson at SGA Solutions. 

26, July 2012: Cost of Production Workshop

A workshop was hosted at Keith to enable members to use the cost of production tool that Lucerne Australia launched at the Business Skills Day in 2011. Executive Committee Member Warrick Thorpe went through the program in detail to assist new members and those who wished to re-visit the program.

27, March 2012: Cost of Production Workshop

A workshop was hosted at Tintinara to enable members to use the cost of production tool that Lucerne Australia launched at the Business Skills Day in 2011. Executive Committee Member Warrick Thorpe went through the program in detail to assist new members and those who wished to re-visit the program.

1, March 2012: Centre Pivot Variety Trial Day

The annual variety trial field day was held on 1 March and was particularly useful for those facing the challenging task of selecting varieties. The crop showed large differences in podset between the different varieties. Confidence was gained with each of the three replicates showing a relatively consistent pod set. As with most crops under drop tubes, the soil type variations are accentuated. Marketers provided growers with an update of where the lucerne seed market is currently at. Presentations from Seedmark, SGI, PGG Wrightson Seeds and Naracoorte Seeds filled the room with optimism for the upcoming marketing season, with good price indications.  During the trial site day, Lucerne Australia introduced one of the international members - Glen Bornt of Imperial Valley Milling Company. Glen owns a business in the Imperial Valley of California which markets seed, has production contracts for seed and cleans/processes seed.

17, February 2012: Header Set-up Day

Over 40 members attended the “Header Set-up” day on 17 February with a New Holland CR 960 rotary header (thanks to Lachie and Trevor James), and a JD 9500 convention header (thanks to Guy and Sarah Cunningham). Robert Will of 'Will Inspect' presented to growers as well as Harold Wise of Wise Farm Equipment. A casual two-way format was used to demonstration and discuss the use of the LSD kit released by Alpha Group Consulting. This format was then carried over to discussion about the header set-up. Harold and Will's expertise shone through in what was largely a Q&A session. Experience from within the group highlighted many ways that operators can improve the harvesting and avoid costly damage to seed lines. The headers were then run in a dryland seed crop and attendees were able to view first-hand how well the machines were handling the crop and conditions and view the result of seemingly small changes. Harold Wise demonstrated the use of cover plates in a rotary header and this was only one of many suggestions made on the day.

2, November 2011: Cost of Production Workshop

A workshop was hosted at Keith to enable members to use the new cost of production tool that Lucerne Australia launched in 2011 at the Business Skills Day. Executive Committee Member Warrick Thorpe went through the program in detail. 

19, September 2011: 'Seed Quality' Symposium

The annual symposium had a 'seed quality theme and was held at the Keith Institute on Monday, 19 September. Speakers were well received and take-home messages were transparent for the audience. For example, with Dr John Heap’s Golden Dodder project, (a leafless, parasitic weed which removes nutrients, reduces yield and even kills its host plant), DNA testing will enable the detection of Golden Dodder seed during seed cleaning and it will enable imported seed to be checked for contamination. Therefore identification of existing and new Golden Dodder paddocks is more likely, plus a reduction in export and import seed contamination, thereby reducing risk. Dr Heap also highlighted developments with aerial remote sensing of Golden Dodder, using UAV with cameras to capture images in c. 45 minutes per site, and with low running costs. Several images of this technology were shown. Shane Oster outlined how findings from a recent Setaria Trial show the best control is achieved using a combination of both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. Mark Kester and Peter Gibbs presented together as they had both recently returned from a visit to the USA to study Golden Dodder and seed quality. They confirmed how Golden Dodder has been an issue in the USA for decades, and how seed can remain dormant in the soil for 30-90 years. Control methods include hand-cutting and then burning of the cut foliage but this has risks due to regeneration of dodder if not followed up; destroying dodder by using flame throwers with migrant labor; the use of velvet and magnet rollers in all processing plants and finally chemical usage, which is now the most effective. With abnormal seedlings, the LSD (Lucerne Seed Damage) kit is an outcome of a RIRDC-funded research project launched in 2009 and was featured by James DeBarro. It was stressed to the audience that the process of harvesting lucerne seed presents the most significant threat to seed quality. Robert Will also outlined issues with headers, including the thresher and concave settings, and tips including making one adjustment at a time, keeping records, not solely relying on monitors and taking responsibility for the machine and its settings. Finally, Dr Christopher Preston highlighted the use of the Harrington Weed Destructor which effectively process’ chaff to destroy weed seeds during harvest.

In the evening, our special guest speaker was Julian Burton, South Australian of the Year 2010. Julian is founder of the Julian Burton Burns Trust which he established following his rehabilitation having suffered life threatening third degree burns to his body from the 2002 Bali Bombings. It has become Australia’s first national community organisation solely committed to prevention, care and research associated with burn injury. A passionate and powerful speaker, Julian delivered a presentation that focused on enhancing personal and organisational performance in the areas of communication, lifestyle balance and life management skills. He also delivered this straightforward advice to members with energy, knowledge and humour.


22, June 2011: Business Skills Day

Lucerne Australia and Rabobank held a Business Skills Day at the Keith Institute on 22 June. This event provided Lucerne Australia members and Rabobank clients with an opportunity to gain knowledge into business operations, financial management and strategies, and analyse tools to assist in developing business skills. The event included five speakers with up-to-date, relevant information with practical take-home messages in business cashflow, margins and budgets, as well as an industry-first cost of production template. A business case study was also provided by Lachlan Sutherland, a dairy and beef farmer from Lamont in Victoria.

3, March 2011: Trial Site Field Day

The centre pivot variety trial progress report was given at a trial site field day at Kinyerrie, Keith, where a number of members and associates attended. In summary, the trial site had very good initial seedling vigour and growth in most of the varieties. However, like many other early ‘locked-up’ crops in the district, it has suffered from the cool weather and other seasonal factors, which is reflected in the amount of pod set across the different trial plots. A summary of the results released from the 2010 harvest report at the flood irrigation site were also provided. In addition, John Heap attended and demonstrated project work he is undertaking with a remote controlled airplane.

4, February 2011: Lucerne Seed Contract Forum

Lucerne Australia hosted a lucerne seed contract forum at the Keith Institute with guest speaker Professor Rocque Reynolds from the University of Technology, Sydney. The meeting purpose was to discuss developing a standardized lucerne seed contract and agreed minimum industry standards between growers and marketers. As author of ‘Fair Dinkum: A seed production agreement for the pasture sees industry’. Rocque addressed over 60 Lucerne Australia members and associates and took questions from the floor regarding the draft seed production agreement and the use of fair and effective contracts.