Twenty years of SEPWA was celebrated in style – with more than 280 people dressing up to attend a formal sit down dinner on March 9. And what better place to celebrate the occasion, than in a grain shed kindly provided by the CBH Group, a platinum sponsor of SEPWA. In a transformation likened to an ugly duckling to a swan, the grain shed underwent a major face-lift under the guidance of local Munglinup farmer, Michelle Barrett. It was a memorable evening for all - illuminated furniture, an illuminated bar that looked very inviting, amazing lighting throughout, decorative banners, flickering candles and barley grass table decorations throughout. Guests were treated to a delectable sit down dinner which was done by Saltwater Catering, who had to tackle the massive challenge of cooking offsite and catering to such a large crowd. Local musician, Shayne Witt played guitar earlier on in the evening.
This was followed by a creative lolly buffet by Sweet Events and Party Hire, which tied in with the blue and green theme, which took everyone back to their childhood days. Speeches throughout the evening included SEPWA President, Lyndon Mickel; CBH Chairman, Neil Wandel and Rabobank Esperance Regional Manager, Steve Baker who reflected on the journey of SEPWA.
A video montage that featured the past presidents of SEPWA over the last 20 years, which had a political theme (in keeping with it being election night), was also shared. Guest speaker and fast paced stand-up comedian Peter Rowsthorn was a big hit and provided a light hearted touch to the evening, and despite the audience been very guarded at times he had the guests in fits of laughter. The night concluded with the heels being kicked aside to hit the dance floor to dance the night away to hits played by the local DJ. The night was proudly supported by SEPWA Platinum sponsor, CBH Group who kindly allowed SEPWA to utilise their grain storage shed and Esperance Freight Lines, who provided free freight for all the props.
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The latest yield and quality results from the SEPWA variety trials were further discussed at the SEPWA AGM and Harvest Review on March 8. More than 50 farmers and industry representatives gathered to hear the results from the wheat, canola and barley variety trials that were conducted throughout the Esperance Port Zone. Summit’s Nick Donkin discussed the use of phosphorous at variable rates and Graydon Chang from Rabobank gave an insight into the Australian grain markets. The Harvest Debrief with CBH’s Mick Daw was a tame affair as he reflected on the past harvest, scheduled upgrades and the Hindmarsh segregation.
The SEPWA AGM was short and sweet and the motion to increase membership fees by $25 to $175 plus GST was given the green light, it will come into effect this year. The Executive members, who were sworn in at the AGM, include Andrew Chambers, Craig Newman, Lyndon Mickel and newly elected Tara Vermeersch. The successful candidates will serve a three year term. The new and re-elected committee members will join the current Executive of David Cox, Greg Curnow, Eric Nankivell, Angus Sellars, Murray Ayers, Andrew Fowler, Chris Reichstein and Steve TIlbrook. Grass Patch farmer, Leon Bowman decided not to stand again due to farming commitments and to focus more on his role as Chairman of EOPP co-operative. SEPWA Project Officer, Nigel Metz concluded the day with a presentation on the Enzyme Brewing project which was capped off with tasting beer that had been brewed with the new technology.
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Helping growers overcome the obstacles to adopting variable rate technology (VRT) was the focus of a ‘Quick and Dirty Variable Rate Day’ held at Hopetoun in February. Run by the South East Premium Wheat Growers’ Association (SEPWA), the event was supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative (RAIN).
The event,instigated by the Esperance port zone GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) and held at Stott and Charmaine Redman’s farm, provided a quick, hands-on demonstration of how to:
- Create zones;
- Soil test/ground truth;
- Create VRT prescription maps.
SEPWA project officer Nigel Metz said the day showed how to integrate precision agriculture (PA) farming tools and mobile device technology. He said this had been the key research focus of the project ‘mobile devices – the next step in PA’, funded by the GRDC and conducted by SEPWA.
“The Quick and Dirty Variable Rate Day’ included a demonstration of how to use your iPad to navigate to locations in the paddock, mark out areas of interest and export them back to your computer for sharing or making VRT maps,” Mr Metz said. “Local PA service providers were also on hand to talk about their assistance to farmers to adopt VRT.
“The event had a hands-on component to ground truth agronomy problems in a demonstration paddock, and there were a number of people on-hand from DAFWA to give expert input on soil constraints, liming/pH and soil hydrology. “It concluded with the integration of these factors into a variable rate prescription map ready for the tractor monitor.”
Specialist consultant Tywen Dawe, of Farmanco, said the project ‘Mobile devices – the next step in PA’ found that improved smart phone/tablet software ‘apps’ for farming and mapping offered the potential for a smoother transition to VRT and PA systems.
“A review into VRT adoption and mobile device technology highlighted that mobile devices (primarily the iPad) and existing smart technology apps can simplify and enhance the VRT and PA process, and alsofast-track adoption and improve information management,” she said.
The project included a survey of 20 Western Australian grain growers, 11 national service providers and farm consultants from across Australia, and collated online responses from more than 150 people. “Farmers surveyed indicated that VRT was not a replacement for key agronomy practices, such as weed control and timely sowing, but it did have economic benefits – particularly in soil amelioration,” Ms Dawe said.
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DAFWA's Peter Newan, as usual, made his trip from Geraldton worth it when he spoke at the Experance Crop Updates on March 15 about Weed Resistance issues. His talk was animated and thought provoking. The latest and greatest barley and wheat varieties were presented by Andrea Hills and Kevin Young talked about other crop specific issues including barley powdery mildew and sprouting tolerance in wheat. Mark Seymour provided an update on canola.
With technology advancing at a rapid rate and smart phones and tablets everywhere in farming, SEPWA’s Nigel Metz talked about “Appy Farming” and local farmer, Mick Fels launched a new spraying app that he has developed. Farmanco’s Eric Nankivell finished the lineup of speakers with an interesting topic on “the future of farming businesses in the Esperance Port Zone.”
The day concluded with beer tasting led by Nigel Metz who is running the Enzyme Brewing project. New enzyme brewing technology, that uses raw Gairdner barley, has been used to brew the beer as opposed to malt which is used in traditional brewing. The beer has been brewed in Tasmania to utilise the new technology, hence the barley was sourced locally there.
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