RockStar grain to be released in 2020

A new high yielding wheat is set to become a headline act in 2020, with the launch of the newly classified Australian Hard variety, RockStar.

RockStar is said to provide a robust, flexible variety option to reduce the impact of seasonal variability on spring crops and generate profitable yields.

The new release was produced by Western Australian cereal breeding company, InterGrain, which is co-owned by the State Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

WA’s talented grains scientists are recognised as industry leaders in research, development and innovation, supported by the McGowan Government’s investments in state-of-the-art facilities, field trials and strong relationships with industry, academia and customers.

Asian customers are big fans of Australian Hard wheat, which is used as a blend in baked products and noodles, and can attract a premium, depending on market and seasonal conditions.

“RockStar has the potential to become a major part of cropping rotations in WA, providing a high yielding solution to managing spring variability, with earlier sowing opportunities and mid-late flowering characteristics.

“This variety has been developed from WA’s biggest selling wheat variety, Mace, and could provide a real boost to growers’ crop productivity and profitability.

“RockStar is backed by InterGrain’s out-there marketing strategy, where the variety is presented as a hard rock guitarist pitching the tagline ‘the AH wheat that rocks ’til late’ – riffing on its Australian Hard classification and its late season flowering.

“InterGrain is emerging as a rising star in the Australian plant breeding industry, establishing a strong reputation as a leading supplier of high performance wheat and barley varieties for all Australian environments.

“The McGowan Government put a halt to the previous government’s plan to sell off InterGrain to Eastern States interests – and that decision is paying off today, alongside our significant investment in grains research and development to keep WA on the world stage as a premium grain supplier.”

Cutting-edge FarmSmarts showcased at Muresk Institute

The latest SMART Farm technology has once again been highlighted at this year’s FarmSmart showcase at Muresk Institute in Northam.

More than 350 farmers, industry leaders and training providers attended the free event today, which included demonstrations from Telstra with their Mobile Technology Lab and tours of Muresk’s SMART Farm, the first public demonstration farm in Western Australia set up for cloud-based SMART Farm technology.

Cloud-based SMART Farm technology is the integrated use of digital equipment in modern agriculture, such as sensors and GPS, providing farmers with the data they need to make more informed and efficient choices in farming.

Visitors to the event also enjoyed seminars on adapting to a digital business, breeding better sheep, improving animal welfare and livestock handling operations through technology, and connecting consumers and producers.

Agricultural Region MLC Darren West represented Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery to officially open the FarmSmart showcase for 2019.

The event brought together industry leaders and training providers to highlight how the integration of new technology with existing farming practices can help improve quality and efficiency.

“The McGowan Government is committed to delivering stronger regional economies,” said education and training minister Sue Ellery. “The FarmSmart showcase is a great example of agricultural innovation, increasing productivity and diversifying the economy to create more jobs for Western Australians.

“It is vital the State Government works with the agricultural industry to ensure we are delivering the right skills at the right time and in the right places.”

“As a farmer I have seen firsthand how technology is changing the way we do things and how it has opened up new opportunities for jobs,” said agricultural region MLC Darren West. “I thank Minister Ellery for her continued support of innovation and technology in agriculture. It is essential that we continue to upskill and keep up-to-date with new technology so that we can take advantage of the efficiencies and opportunities it presents to our industry.”

Support extended for prawn project

A multi-billion dollar prawn aquaculture project, expected to create 1,600 jobs in Northern Australia, has been granted a renewal of its Major Project Status.

Project Sea Dragon will produce Black Tiger prawns, mainly for the Asian export market, and involves five sites in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said her government will renew support for the project, being developed by Seafarms Group.

“This project is expected to generate $3 billion in export revenue, helping to boost our economy further,” Andrews said. “Stage 1 of the project is expected to create 1,000 jobs – at full scale this will rise to 1,600 jobs.

“Ultimately, the project will involve construction of about 10,000 hectares of ponds with the project to span more than 90 years, and about 15,000 tonnes per annum of prawns will be produced in the project’s first full stage of development.”

The project includes a partnership with major international seafood company Nissui, and has strong support from Indigenous stakeholders and local communities who will benefit from jobs, training and protection of sites and the environment.

This Major Project Status renewal comes as the Liberal National Government announced $420,000 in funding to develop a comprehensive plan for the aquaculture industry in Northern Australia.

Project Sea Dragon is land-based and has five core sites. The Legune Station prawn farm in the Northern Territory will be supported by a wild-caught prawn stocking and quarantine centre at Exmouth, WA; a Core Breeding Centre and Broodstock Maturation Centre at Bynoe Harbour near Darwin; a commercial hatchery at Gunn Point near Darwin and a processing plant at Kununurra, WA.

Over the next 12 months researchers from James Cook University will work with CSIRO, Blueshift Consulting, the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association and the Indigenous Land Corporation to develop the plan.

The Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments are also providing priority support to the project.

Sheep monitoring app updated

The Western Australian government is backing productivity improvements in the Western Australian sheep industry, with the development of a new and improved Sheep Condition Scoring app.

The app, developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, enables producers to monitor the condition of sheep and readily access information to manage sheep nutrition.

This helps producers determine if sheep are in the best condition for joining and lambing – making it a key tool for this time of the year.

The updated app allows users to add multiple records to a mob and add multiple mobs, as well as calculate averages, generate graphs and email raw data for more analysis. It also features instructional videos and explanations on how to condition score.

Condition scoring is an easy and accurate measure of estimating the nutritional wellbeing of sheep, and is the best method for monitoring pregnant and lactating ewes. Condition score should be used in combination with the available pasture to run feed budgets.

“Technical innovations such as the new Sheep Condition Scoring app help drive productivity and growth in WA’s sheep and wool industries, particularly in more challenging seasons such as 2018 for our south-eastern and south coast farmers” said agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan

“Poor or delayed starts to the season make decision tools such as this app particularly useful for sheep producers to review their supplementary feed programs.

“The app is the perfect tool to get ahead of the game – to monitor sheep condition and adjust feed programs to maintain a minimum condition rather than allow animals to lose condition and then try to regain it.

“Visitors to DPIRD’s shed at Woolorama can test out the app and watch the videos on condition scoring and assessing feed on offer to give them an edge heading into lambing season.”

WA government to develop horticulture business case for North Wanneroo

The Western Australian government has announced plans to maintain strong year-round horticultural production in the state’s north metropolitan region, following report findings on water allocation and land use issues.

The North Wanneroo Agriculture and Water Taskforce has recently delivered its report examining water allocation and land use issues in North Wanneroo to the state government.

North Wanneroo has been a traditional farming area providing seasonal, fresh fruit and vegetable supplies to Perth, interstate and overseas, with an estimated production value of agricultural production of $47.7 million in 2015-16.

State Agriculture and Food minister Alannah MacTiernan, said that the taskforce chair Sabine Winton and the committee had worked hard to deal with this challenge of sustaining urban horticulture in a drying climate.

“North Wanneroo’s agriculture industry continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy and the state’s agricultural exports, and it is important that we keep our existing irrigated land to supply fresh and diverse produce to the people of Perth,” MacTiernan said.

“Now that we have clarity on water allocation for the next 10 years, we can work together with industry to improve water efficiency.”

In response to the report findings, the WA government will develop a business case for a new leasehold agri-precinct in State Forest 65 in North Wanneroo, incorporating the use of recycled water.

The government will also invest in a new Water Use Efficiency Program to support growers and industry to assess and promote technology options that improve efficient water use, ensuring industry viability in a drying climate.

“There are constraints around water availability and growers need to be supported to operate in a drier climate. Our Water Use Efficiency Program will assess techniques and systems to help growers,” MacTiernan said.

“The state government will work with growers and the local community to develop a water scheme and lead a cost benefit analysis on a new agricultural precinct at State Forest 65.

“We will also be making a case for Commonwealth funding through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.”

Making Western Sydney Greater 2018 Survey launched

National accounting firm William Buck, in partnership with St. George, the Western Sydney University and Western Sydney Business Connection, have launched the latest edition of the Making Western Sydney Greater 2018 Survey.

This initiative is a collaborative project between the four organisations to identify the important issues and priorities for businesses in the Western Sydney region. The organisers use the insight collected from the survey to produce a report and coordinate a number of activities in the region.

Over the next decade, Western Sydney is expected to have an additional one million residents living in the region. The plans to create a city with better accessibility with new transport networks will have a big impact on local businesses.

The last edition of the survey in 2017 found that over 48 per cent of Western Sydney businesses expected to increase their full-time and part-time workforce. Last year, 86 per cent of Western Sydney businesses had plans to grow their business with a projected growth rate of 15 per cent.

In this latest edition, the survey focuses on the benefits and obstacles of a strong digital marketing strategy, the impact of better connectivity and new transport networks, and take a look at the growth and employment outlook for businesses in Western Sydney.

All Western Sydney business owners and managers are encouraged to take part in the survey.

Participants who  take the survey before 8 August, go in the draw to win 2 tickets to the 2018 Bledisloe Cup and watch the ultimate Trans-Tasman rivalry at ANZ Stadium.

To participate in the survey, click here.

WA’s first demonstration SMART Farm opens at Muresk Institute

Muresk Institute has unveiled Western Australia’s first demonstration SMART Farm at its inaugural FarmSmart Showcase – a free professional development event exhibiting the latest agricultural innovations.

Cloud-based SMART Farm technology is the integrated use of digital equipment in modern agriculture, such as sensors and GPS, providing farmers with the data they need to make highly informed choices and help improve efficiency.

Western Australians studying or working in agriculture will be able to use the facilities at Muresk to train and upskill.

The system will also increase Muresk’s productivity, environmental sustainability, safety and workflow, which will ultimately make the farm more self-sufficient.

Agricultural Region MLC Darren West represented Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery to officially open the inaugural FarmSmart Showcase at Muresk today. The event brought together industry leaders and training providers to highlight how embracing new technology and data with existing farming practices can help improve quality and efficiency.

“The McGowan Government is committed to increasing agricultural productivity, diversifying the economy and creating jobs for Western Australians,” said Ellery. “Being able to demonstrate the impact and benefits of technology in farming will be a huge benefit to students and the existing workforce – this initiative will help equip our workforce with relevant and contemporary knowledge and skills.

“The demand for highly skilled workers in the agriculture sector is growing and, like many other industries, it continues to evolve as technology modernises the way we work.”

“As a local farmer, I understand the importance of new technology and the efficiencies and opportunities it presents to our industry,” said West. “Not only is technology changing the way we do things, it is also opening up new opportunities for jobs. Muresk is leading the way in teaching and adopting the latest innovations in technology and systems to allow us to keep pace with the rest of the world.”