BSES Limited’s (BSES) Professional Extension and Communication (PEC) Unit were joined by a large group of industry representatives at their Advisor Technical Update in Mission Beach, Airlie Beach and Childers in May.
Dr Andrew Ward, Manager PEC Unit said that the event was the first of three regional Updates held throughout the state to up-skill the industry’s advisor community.
“The PEC Unit plays a central role in ensuring that the advisor community, who provide advice to growers out in the field, know about the latest research findings and practical guidelines,” he said.
“By arming this group with this information they can deliver the best advice on-farm, for better results.”
A broad range of representatives from the local mills, productivity services groups, government, and commercial agri-businesses including the reseller and banking sectors attended the event.
“The day was a great success and the feedback we received confirmed that the advisors would like to see this type of event become a regular feature in the PEC Unit’s calendar of events.”
The first presentation focused on the physiology of the sugarcane plant and took attendees back-to-basics.
“It’s important that everyone in the industry understands the same fundamentals, which they can then build upon. Understanding how a sugarcane plant functions and interacts with its environment, can help shape advice that is given,” said Dr Ward.
“We are also conscious that advisors want to hear about topical and new research findings that they can add to their tool-kit of information. The group received an update on our Yellow Canopy Syndrome trials in Tully and our recent work that is focused on understanding if seasonal climate forecasts can help growers make decisions about nitrogen application in the Wet Tropics.”
Dr Ward said that the PEC Unit is also keen to link advisors with independent researchers and suppliers, whose information might also encourage new ways of thinking.
“Dr Graham Stirling, BiolCrop Ltd presented a five-point strategy which aims at minimising losses from nematodes, and the economic and soil health benefits growers can achieve by adopting this plan.
“Bayer delivered a masterclass session on herbicides to assist growers with their weed control decisions, while Incitec Pivot provided the group with some food for thought about how various nitrogen fertiliser options affect nitrogen use efficiency,” he said.
The day concluded with a robust discussion about the research priorities advisors have identified in their region which could help improve the productivity and profitability for local growers.
“In the north, advisors agreed that research should focus on varieties - in particular, varietal disease resistance, herbicide screening for new varieties and breeding good rooting varieties.
“Soil health and learning more about the success of growers who have adopted new farming practices were seen as important as well.”
“The next steps are to feed these findings to the research community to ensure that they are considered in current funding proposals and new funding proposals with the soon-to-be formed Sugar Research Australia.”
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