From Evandale in Tasmania, to Rutherglen in north-eastern Victoria and across to Streaky Bay on South Australia’s west coast – such is the geographical breadth of members appointed to the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs).
A total of 38 RCSN members, as well as four new network leads and an overall co-ordinator, have been appointed to what is set to be a new era in the evolution of the initiative.
GRDC Southern Manager Grower Services, Craig Ruchs, says the composition and leadership of the RCSNs for the coming term will help ensure constraints and opportunities to the profitability of grains in the southern region are promptly identified, captured and effectively addressed by the GRDC.
“The diversity of knowledge, skills, experience and broad geographical representation of members appointed to the RCSNs will be an enormous asset to the GRDC. The RCSNs will provide a transparent process to ensure all priority grains industry issues are captured and assist the GRDC in the development of targeted investments delivering the knowledge, tools or technology required by growers to facilitate on-farm practice change,” Mr Ruchs says.
Providing advice to GRDC staff and the Southern Regional Panel, each of the three networks is focused on farming systems in a particular production zone – low rainfall, medium rainfall and high rainfall.
Mr Ruchs explains that the RCSN initiative complements the already recognised regional panel structure, providing a valued source of information that may inform and further validate research, development and extension (RD&E) investments for the grains industry at a regional and national level. Panel members are intimately connected to the networks through direct participation as standing members on the RCSNs.
The networks are comprised of growers, researchers, advisers and agribusiness professionals, who liaise closely with, and represent, the wider grains community within their respective zone.
Mr Ruchs says the RCSN initiative provides a platform for cross-industry collaboration and is an important partnership that is valued greatly by the GRDC. He says the RCSNs provide another “check and balance” to ensure grower levies target areas of greatest present and future need.
The GRDC was overwhelmed with the number of applications received from prospective RCSN members, reinforcing both the passion of individuals to be involved and the importance of the initiative in shaping RD&E activities across the southern region. “Unfortunately, we could not offer positions to everyone who applied. Selection was based on the need to ensure a diverse mix of skills and expertise and appropriate geographical representation,” Mr Ruchs says.
Mr Ruchs thanked outgoing southern RSCN members for their significant contribution to the grains industry over the past term, whilst also welcoming new network leads and members who will work with those continuing for another term.
Mr Ruchs was also excited to announce the Southern RCSN support team which will facilitate and co-ordinate member activities. Cam Nicholson of Geelong, Victoria, and Kate Burke of Echuca, Victoria, will lead the high rainfall zone (HRZ) and medium rainfall zone (MRZ) networks respectively, while John Stuchbery of Donald, Victoria, and Barry Mudge of Port Germein, SA, will lead the low rainfall zone (LRZ) network.
Jen Lillecrapp of Struan in SA, who has been an integral part of the RCSN initiative since inception, has been appointed to the new role of Southern RCSN co-ordinator and will support the entire Southern RCSNs.
Mrs Lillecrapp says her involvement as a network facilitator for the past four years has been highly rewarding: “The RCSNs have been a very effective mechanism for identifying and prioritising growers’ issues and providing recommended RD&E needs to address those challenges,” Mrs Lillecrapp says.
“RCSN members see their role as an important one – they provide an integral conduit between growers and advisers at a local level and the GRDC to identify the important issues for grain growers. There are numerous examples of how the collective ideas of the RCSNs have directly informed GRDC investments and subsequently ensured applied outcomes providing greatest economic benefit for southern region grain growers.”
Having contributed to the identification of priority issues in grains research in the southern region over recent years, Mr Ruchs says the RCSNs’ role has evolved to now include a greater focus upon identifying emerging issues, strategic review of existing investments and identifying opportunities to improve the delivery of research outcomes and on-farm adoption.
The three RCSNs for 2017-19 comprise:
Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Network Manager: Craig Ruchs, GRDC Regional Manager Grower Services
Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Co-ordinator: Jen Lillecrapp, Struan (SA)
High Rainfall Zone: Lead Cam Nicholson (new), Geelong (Victoria).
Tasmanian members – Michael Chilvers (continuing), Evandale; Terry Horan (continuing), St Leonards.
Victorian members – Rowan Paulet (continuing), Flynns Creek; Lawrence Richmond (continuing), Newington; Robert Norton (continuing), Horsham; Bruce Macague (new), Rochester; Jim Zwar (new), Glenthompson; Craig Drum (new), Tatyoon; Peter McCann (new), Ceres.
SA members – Mark Branson (continuing), Stockport; Brett Gilbertson (new), Millicent; Jenny Stanton (new), Kingscote; Adam Hancock (new), Naracoorte.
Panel members: Mike McLaughlin, Adelaide (SA); Mark Stanley, Port Lincoln (SA); Jon Midwood, Inverleigh (Victoria); Kate Wilson, Hopetoun (Victoria)
Medium Rainfall Zone: Lead Kate Burke (new), Echuca (Victoria).
Victorian members – Andrew Russell (continuing), Rutherglen; Peter Taylor (continuing), Lubeck; Grant Hollaway (continuing), Horsham; Gavin Sait (new), Charlton; John Robertson (new), Horsham.
SA members – Matt Dare (continuing), Clare; Mark Modra (continuing), Port Lincoln; Mick Faulkner (continuing), Watervale; Andrew Slater (new), Curramulka; Steven Jaeschke (new), Keith; Andrew Hansen (new), Coomandook; Sam Holmes (new), Maitland; Steve Richmond (new), Jamestown.
Panel members: John Bennett, Lawloit (Victoria); Bill Long, Ardrossan (SA); Rob Sonogan, Swan Hill (SA)
Low Rainfall Zone: Leads John Stuchbery (new), Donald (Victoria), and Barry Mudge (previous member), Port Germein (SA).
Victorian members – Chris Kelly (continuing), Woomelang; Michael Moodie (continuing), Mildura; Alistair Murdoch (new), Kooloonong; Tim McClelland (new), Birchip.
SA members – Andy Bates (continuing), Streaky Bay; Nigel Wilhelm (continuing), Adelaide; Chris Crouch (new), Wandearah; Andrew Biele (new), Loxton; Wade Nickolls (new), Pinnaroo; Tristan Baldock (new), Buckleboo; Louise Flohr (new), Lameroo; Brian Lynch (new), Loxton.
Panel members: Peter Kuhlmann, Mudamuckla (SA); Rohan Mott, Ninda (Victoria); Keith Pengilley, Conara (Tasmania)