2020/21 BCG Annual Report

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2020/21 BCG Annual Report

1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021

BCG’s mission is to improve the prosperity of Australia’s broadacre farmers through applied science-based research and extension.

Contents The Year at BCG


Advisory and Research Committees 10

Chair’s Report


Research and Operations Report


CEO Report


Extension, Communications and Partnerships Report


Staff Members


Finance and Business Services Report


Board Members


Investors and Collaborators


2020 BCG Main Research Site

The Year at BCG July 2020


BCG eNews 172

02 20 22

BCG Board meeting BCG Industry Day

August 2020 06 31

April 2021 01

BCG eNews 181

BCG eNews 173

May 2021

BCG Board Meeting


September 2020 03 08

Bolstering Birchip – Strategic Thinking and Planning

BCG eNews 174 BCG Research Committee mtg

BCG eNews 182

June 2021 03 09

BCG eNews 183 Agriwomens GAPP meeting

October 2020 01 26 26

BCG eNews 175 BCG Board meeting BCG AGM

November 2020 05

BCG eNews 176

December 2020 03

BCG eNews 177

January 2021 -

February 2021 04 09 19 22

BCG eNews 179 Pulse Check meeting at Pyramid Hill BCG Trials Review Day Bolstering Birchip – Leadership training

March 2021 04 11 16

BCG eNews 180 IPM Workshop Bolstering Birchip – Governance and Finance training

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Ian McClelland, Fiona Best, 2020 Harm van Rees Award recipient, Steve Marcroft and John Ferrier

Chair’s Report – By John Ferrier Welcome to the 2020 – 21 BCG Annual Report. Our financial position and output for our members remained strong, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Some BCG highlights for the 2020 – 21 reporting period include: •

Delivering trial results and events to growers from 33 trial sites across the Mallee, Wimmera and North Central Victoria including the production of professional videos with our research experts to circumvent limitations placed on the organisation due to COVID restrictions

Awarding the Harm van Rees award to oilseed expert Steve Marcroft in 2020

BCG’s Kate Maddern receiving a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University

The combination of face-to-face and live streaming participation options at Trials Review Day

The availability of the Season Research Results Manual in eBook format and

BCG leading the North West regional node of the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub.

Our success is due to the work of committed staff and board members with support from members and collaborators. Thank you to Fiona Best, BCG Chief Executive Officer, who continues to lead staff and work closely with the board to make our mission a reality. In 2020, staff were responsive to the changing Page | 3

COVID-19 restrictions. The team proved flexible in their approach, with the delivery a dynamic program to ensure our members were always kept up-to-date. The research team continues to impress our collaborators and members with the exceptional presentation of our research sites and extension of quality results. We are grateful to our growers who willingly give their time and resources to our research and extension endeavours. In 2020, land for the main site was provided by one of our long-time supporters, Curyo farmer Trevor Grogan. Thank you again to Trevor and farming partner Red Curtis for their continued support of BCG. Thank you to our BCG Board Members. Their commitment, genuine engagement and diverse skillbase ensure we continue to adapt to the challenges and opportunities our industry presents. I’d like to sincerely thank retiring board member Alan Bennett and welcome new members Greg Kuchel and Stefano de Pieri. Thank you also to our research partners, investors, collaborators and corporate partners. We value their input and support immensely. For a comprehensive list see page nine. While the board and staff implement BCG’s mission to “Improve the prosperity of Australia’s broadacre farmers through applied, science-based research and extension”, it is the members who provide the ideas, inspiration and often, the means to ensure our work remains relevant. Thank you to all our members for continuing to support BCG. I hope you enjoy this summary of a successful reporting period.

2020 BCG Main Site, Curyo, September Page | 4

Fiona Best and Ian McClelland presenting at the BCG Trials Review Day 2021

CEO Report – By Fiona Best The last twelve months of activity within the agricultural research and extension sector has certainly been interesting. BCG’s Research and Extension efforts across the season have been affected in different ways. Events and activities were however able to proceed with careful adherence to COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite this, there have been numerous highlights for BCG including: • • • •

The successful delivery of Trials Review Day 33 trial sites established across the BCG footprint Hugh DT Williamson Trust scholarships awarded to three BCG staff members The establishment of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, BCG established as the North West, Node lead and my appointment as Deputy Director

The Board and staff The BCG Board continue to provide the organisation with a strong direction and a mandate to pursue innovation and continuous improvement within farming businesses and the regional communities in which they exist. BCG continues to be recognised as an important influence across the region propelled by people who collectively share the vision of ensuring the prosperity and sustainability of agriculture. The commitment of BCG staff to producing sound, rigorously tested, relevant research directly provides outcomes for our farming community. Staff have swiftly adapted their approach to accommodate state imposed COVID-19 restrictions during the 2020/21 season. This has been no easy task with so many changes and regulations requiring implementation. Our commitment to making BCG a supportive and flexible place to work continues. The BCG staff cohort are dedicated and committed and have a high level of expertise with the ability to deliver high quality research and extension outcomes. Page | 5

BCG members Central to the success of BCG is the continued support of members. Membership numbers continue to increase, highlighting the relevance and importance of our work. The last twelve months involved BCG implementing several internal systems that streamlined interactions with members and further positioned the organisation to ensure member needs were captured, prioritised and responded to. Collaboration Collaborative relationships with our Corporate Partners continue to be integral to all aspects of BCG’s work. The ever-expanding network within the agricultural sector is important for BCG’s ability to respond quickly to the needs of members and industry. The ability to bring expertise from industry into the region relies on these important relationships. Such sponsors are recognised on page 16 of this report. The diversity of the work being undertaken by BCG across the Wimmera Mallee and North Central regions reflects BCG’s relationship with multiple funding agencies from all levels of government, the university sector, CRCs as well as the philanthropic sector. BCG will continue to pursue these kinds of opportunities to meet the needs of the farming community. The next twelve months The next 12 months will continue to include development and improvement at BCG including the release of the new strategic plan which will identify priorities and future investment opportunities. Another development is the implementation of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub which will see the sharing of ideas and development of research with a grass roots approach. I look forward to sharing these outcomes with you.

Sowing Pulse Validation Trials in July 2020. Page | 6

BCG Staff at Trials Review Day

Staff Members

Fiona Best

Kelly Angel

Janine Batters (from Oct 2020)

Brooke Bennett

Genevieve Clarke

Chris Cook

Pru Cook (until Aug 2020)

Vin Delahunty

Tom Draffen

Louisa Ferrier

Kate Finger

Alison Frischke

Tariq Gerardi (from Feb 2021)

Phillip Guthrie (until June 2021)

Amy Harwood (until Sept 2020)

Angela Liston

Kate Maddern

James Murray

Claire Pickles (parental leave from March 2021)

Catherine Schroder (until Oct 2020)

James Taylor (from March 2021)

David Whitehand (until March 2021)

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Board Members The BCG Board must have a minimum of five and not more than eight grower members and a maximum of four co-opted members who bring special expertise to the Board.

Chair: John Ferrier

Deputy Chair and Treasurer: Dr Cherie Reilly

Greg Kuchel (from Dec 2020)

Caroline Welsh

Alan Bennett (until Feb 2021)

Tim Rethus

Stefano de Pieri (from Dec 2020)

David Hudson

Ian McClelland

Simon Craig

Dr Ainslie Waldron

Dr James Hunt

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Investors and Collaborators ADAMA

John T Reid Charitable Trusts

Agriculture Victoria

LaTrobe University

AGF seeds

Longerenong College


Mallee Catchment Management Authority

Australian Department of Agriculture

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF)

Australian Grains Technologies

Managing Climate Variability Program

Bayer CropScience

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

BCG Members

Murray Dairy


NSW Department of Primary Industries

Buloke Shire Council

Primary Business

Bureau of Meterology

Primary Sales


Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Central West Farming Systems (CWFS) Corteva CRC for High Performance Soils CSIRO Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Department of Primary Industries and Rural Development WA European Union FarmLink Research Federation University FMC Australia

Regional Development Australia Southern Australia Durum Growers Association (SADGA) South Australian Research and Development Insititute (SARDI) Southern Cross University Southern Farming Systems (SFS) Southern Precision Agriculture Association (SPAA) University of Adelaide University of Melbourne veski

Food Agility CRC

Western Australian No-Till Farmers Association (WANTFA)

Foundation for Arable Research, Australia (FAR)

William Buckland Foundation

Go Resources

Wimmera and Mallee Farmers

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority Yitpi Foundation

Irrigated Cropping Council (ICC)

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Advisory & Research Committees Engagement with growers and researchers is essential to maintaining relevant and quality Research, Development and Extension (R,D & E). Our advisory and research committees provide information and feedback to ensure BCG assist growers to hasten adoption, increase sustainability and conduct science-based investigations with rigour and innovation.

Advisory Committee BCG has two Advisory Committee groups, one based in the Mallee and one in the Wimmera. These groups help to ensure BCG remains farmer-driven. The purpose of the regional advisory committees is to represent BCG members by providing input into the trials and extension undertaken each year. The committee provides valuable feedback by communicating their in-paddock issues, farm management challenges and potential research questions that have arisen throughout the season to ensure trials, events and communications are relevant and timely. This information guides BCG when setting research priorities and selecting topics and speakers for all events.

Mallee Advisory Committee members: Alistair Murdoch, Alistair Ferrier, Andrew Barber, Andrew Ryan, Ben Merritt, Brian Barry, Cameron Warne, Caroline Welsh, Craig Kennedy, Geoff/Bronwyn Hunt, Grant Alday, Ian McClelland, John Ferrier, John Renney, Kent Wooding, Lachlan Barber, Linc Lehmann, Luke Maher, Matt Bissett, Mick McClelland, Scott Worner, Shane Edelston, Simon Craig, Travis Mitchell, Tyler Nelson Wimmera Advisory Committee Members: David Jochinke, Hugh Keam, Ian Ruwoldt, Tim Rethus, Carl Sudoltz, Jonothan Dyer, Brett Wheaton, Alwyn Dyer, Alan Bennett, Rodney Pohlner, Simon Severin, Ian Taylor, Grant Hollaway, Rob Launder, Brad Jackson, George Hepburn, Anthony Patton, Chris Delahunty, Cam Penny, Peter Taylor, Brad Martin, Sam Eastwood, Adam Wallis, Cameron Taylor, David Hudson, Darren Jones

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Farmer discussion panel, Georgie Warne, Matt McGurk and Jono Dyer, at the BCG Trials Review Day

Research Committee The purpose of the research advisory committee is to approve the disbursement of all monies received that are eligible for tax concessions under section 73A of the Income Tax Assessment Act ("the Act") and only for the purposes of scientific research as defined in S73A of the Act and which can reasonably be expected to be of value to Australia. 'Disbursement' includes any distribution, gifts or payments made upon the winding up or dissolution of the Australian Research Institute. The research committee is made up of 10 agricultural doctorates (or equivalent) that were selected based on their appropriate credentials and research nous. Since its inception in October 2016, seven meetings have been held (twice annually). The research committee is engaged to ensure BCG research is scientifically rigorous and research projects reflect the goals of the strategic plan. As such, the emphasis is on project idea development, researcher and scientist collaboration, and the 'next advancement' in cropping and mixed farming.

Research priorities identified by the committee include regenerative agriculture, its definition and implications for the farming system. Nitrogen fertiliser application and its impact on subsequent rotations was also identified as an important issue. These ideas will be investigated and reported in the next reporting period.

Research Committee Members: Caroline Welsh (Berriwillock, Research Committee Chair and BCG Board), Dr. Cherie Reilly (Corack, BCG Board), Dr. Geoff Hunt (Normanville), Dr. Harm van Rees (Crop Facts, Bendigo), Ian McClelland OAM (Birchip, BCG Founder and BCG Board), Dr. James Hunt (Melbourne, La Trobe University, BCG Board), Julia Hausler (Warracknabeal, GrainGrowers Ltd. Board), Dr. Tony Gregson (Warracknabeal) and Dr. Zvi Hochman (Brisbane, CSIRO). Page | 11

Research and Operations Report The 2019 season finished with growing season rainfall totals being average across the Wimmera, Mallee and North Central regions. Yields of all crops were generally above average across the district resulting from large potentials being set-up by good autumn rains. From summer 2020 into the main 2021 winter cropping season, BCG established 33 trial sites (Table 1), comprising of 135 trials with approximately 10,000 plots managed throughout the Mallee, Wimmera and North Central regions. BCG’s commitment to research in the Wimmera was once again achieved through a large trial site located at Wallup, with satellite sites at Kalkee, Lubeck and Netherby in the west Wimmera. In early 2021, BCG expanded its research in the north central region through a collaboration with Murray Dairy to deliver ‘Fodder for the Future’, a project aimed at improving the yield and quality of hay. Another addition of note within BCG’s research program, was the awarding of scholarships by the Hugh DT Williamson Trust to three individuals within the research team to deliver a research project of their choice that is aligned with grower needs. The 2021 main research sites were at Watchupga (40km northwest of Birchip). The research was split over two paddocks 5km apart, a vetch hay and a barley stubble, owned by long standing BCG Members Paul Barclay and Ken Hinkley. The main research sites were co-located with the Agriculture Victoria Southern Pulse Agronomy trials. There were satellite sites in the Curyo, Watchupga and Kinnabulla area which supported the main sites. Large trial sites were also established at Mitiamo and Charlton looking at a range of agronomic issues including varieties, weeds, disease, product performance, soil amelioration and nutrition. BCG has invested in improving equipment and facilities to ensure research can be delivered at the highest standard and can replicate grower best practice. Since the last financial year, BCG purchased a second Goldacres purpose-built trial boom spray to ensure the range of chemical applications required can be delivered in a safe and accurate manner. BCG has also made other investments in improving the laboratory facilities to ensure the quality and timeliness of results delivered to growers.

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Trial Site Locations Table 1. Trial site locations, projects and site hosts for BCGs 2020/21 trials program Site





David Lockhart

Birchip West

Soilborne Diseases

Mick Foott



Jon Whykes



Daryl Rathjen


Safflower crop rotation

Trevor Grogan

Curyo North

MCMA Soil Nitrogen Management (previously supported by Latrobe University)

Paul Barclay

Curyo West

Soil CRC – Herbicide Residues

Linc Lehmann



Anthony Lees



Doug Curnow



Devon Mill Ross Brown

Jil Jil

Safflower herbicides

John Ferrier


Safflower varieties and rotation

David Jochinke


Barley grass management

Lucas Puckle


Brome grass management

Chris Rickard


Alternative pastures

Alan Bennett


WCMA soil carbon

Ian Taylor



Brad Plant

Soilborne Diseases Merrinee


Matt Curtis


Pulse agronomy

Adam Gould

Fodder for the Future Alternative pastures Murrayville


Giles Oster


WCMA soil carbon

Rob Robinson

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Ag Vic Ouyen


Dean Munro



Ash Marshall



Brett Fisher



Damien O’Brien


Oaten hay

Xander McRae

Plant establishment Intercropping Canola varieties Walpeup


Jim Wakefield and Mick Pole Ross Stone

Watchupga North


Ken Hinkley

Members Hugh DT Williamson Septoria Plant establishment Intercropping Watchupga South


Paul Barclay

Members Vetch varieties Emerging herbicides Cover crops Pulse agronomy Woomelang North

Hugh DT Williamson

Darrell Boxall

Woomelang West

Ag Vic – Alternative Pulses


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Extension, Communication and Partnerships 2020/21 Due to COVID-19 BCG’s extension team has again worked under limiting circumstances to deliver on our project milestones for the reporting period. The 2020 BCG Main Field Day was unfortunately cancelled due to the restrictions imposed by the Victorian State Government. In lieu of this flagship in-paddock event, BCG produced around 20 short informative videos which provided an overview of the trials program in 2020/21. Alongside these video BCG produced three virtual (video) crop walks working alongside Agriculture Victoria’s Jason Brand as part of the now completed Pulse Extension project. Luckily BCG's member-focussed event, the 2021 Trials Review Day, was able to go ahead and was well attended and delivered timely and relevant information by BCG staff and respected industry personnel. BCG also successfully held BCG Industry Day, with approximatelyh 80 agribusiness, agronomy and industry representatives in attendance at our Whirly Trial Site. In addition, online extension activities conducted during the financial year provided new technical information on plant establishment, integrated pest management, improving soil function and fertility, optimising grain storage, harvester set-up, building climate resilience, pulse production, grazing standing crops, soil carbon and nutrition, dryland legume pasture systems and precision agriculture. During this reporting period, BCG held approximately 25 events, including 15 online workshops/webinars, representing a diverse range of projects, with a total audience across these events of over 1000. In early 2021, everal new extension projects commenced including the Murray Dairy Fodder for the Future project, Southern Cross Universities Soil Extension program and the Victorian Drought Innovation Hub and the Pulse Extension project concluded. Communication BCG has continued to engage with BCG members, growers, agricultural advisors, and department staff through digital communication pathways in 2020/21. The use of short videos providing information, promoting events or other opportunities on social media has proved very popular and will continue to be a pathway for communication for BCG. BCG’s current communications pathways include: •

The BCG Technical Bulletin

The BCG Research Results Manual

A monthly eNews publication with a distribution of 1000 plus Page | 15

A website with podcasts, video and audio as well as a BLOG and news section.

A Facebook following of 2,658

A Twitter following of 6,746

A fortnightly radio spot on ABC Wimmera with a topic determined by BCG

A column in Stock and Land newspaper every three weeks

A district report to Australian Grain Magazine

Regular contributions to Catchment Mallee Authority publications

As required contributions to the Mallee Farmer supplement in the Buloke Times, Sea Lake and Wycheproof Times Ensign, North-West Express and Robinvale Sentinel

As required contributions to the Pyramid Hill Press publication.

Corporate Partnerships BCG's Corporate Partnership program allows BCG Members and staff to access a broad range of resources and expertise through partner organisations. This program is fundamental for improving BCG's business outcomes and seeks to benefit partners, BCG staff and BCG members by merging talent, expertise, technology, and purpose. In May 2020 a decision was made to restructure our partnership packages to better define the differences between partnerships and commercial services. Until now commercial trial work has been recognised as an in-kind contribution to partnerships. Partners who wish to undertake commercial/product trials with BCG will now work with BCG’s Commercial Services who will discount the cost of the works as per their partnership agreements. This restructure also created a new tier system for partnerships which created a Double Diamond tier which recognises our highest-level sponsors, and a Platinum tier. Welcome to our new sponsors GE Silos and AgriDry Dryers. BCG would like to acknowledge the support of our corporate partners for 2019/2020 financial year: Double Diamond Partners: O’Connor’s Case IH Diamond Partners: RuralBank, WFI, Goldacres, Nutrien Ag Platinum Partners: ADM, FMC Crop Protection Gold Partners: AGT, Bayer, Nufarm, Action Steel, ADVANTA, Buloke Shire Council, Grain Growers Silver Partners: Corteva, Victorian Chemical Company, ADAMA Bronze Partners: Blue Lake Milling, Intergrain, Nuseed, Victorian Farmers Federation, GE Silos, Agridry Dryers

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Finance and Business Services Report

New Goldacres boomspray Finance For the third consecutive year, BCG recorded a trading surplus. COVID-19 impacted the financial outcome in a number of ways. Income was boosted by federal and state business support measures including JobKeeper. Income was also lost with instances of project partners withdrawing due to the impact of COVID-19 on their business or uncertainty of the impact of COVID-19 on their business. Travel restrictions, including border closures generated work for BCG through researchers and others unable to travel into the region. Expenses were also impacted. Travel restrictions and capacity limits added challenges to BCG communications and extension activities. Many events were moved online requiring investments in technology and technology skills training. Offsetting those costs were savings in event infrastructure hire, meals and travel expenses. Income was maintained at just over $4m for the third year running. BCG had 85 individual project and partner contracts or agreements contribute income for research and extension projects or contract trials. In addition, revenue from memberships and member services such as soil sampling and Yield ProphetTM continue to provide important funds. Employment expenses are the biggest item, followed by expenses to contractors and other grower groups to support project delivery. BCG maintained staff levels through the year to ensure appropriate resourcing to meet contractual obligations. BCG’s finances are overseen by a Risk & Audit Committee that reviews the organisation’s financial performance against expectation each month and reports the progress to the six Board meetings held each year. Accounting Standards compliance Compliance with two Accounting Standards (AASB 15 and AASB 1058) introduced last year makes it difficult to compare year on year financial performance. The standards required an assessment of every contract or agreement to review and assess the performance obligations required to fulfil a Page | 17

contract or agreement; an assessment that a good or service transferred is distinct and that the overall requirements are sufficiently specific. The result is that some income must be recognised in a different financial period from when the work is done. As an example, approximately 10 per cent of the income set aside to cover the cost of delivering a number of projects due for completion in the 2021/22 financial year was recognised last financial year or the year before. Business Registration An anomaly dating back to BCG registration in 2000 which resulted in BCG being identified as ‘Other Unincorporated Entity’ was rectified with BCG now registered as ‘Other Incorporated Entity’. Another key action finalised was changing BCG’s registration from the Victorian based Consumer Affairs Victoria to an Australian Body to reflect BCG’s interstate operations. BCG maintains status as a charity endorsed to access tax concessions, endorsement as a Deductable Gift Recipient (DGR) and recognition as an Approved Research Institute. Investments During 2020/21 BCG purchased a second Wintersteiger plot harvester, a new sprayer from valued partner Goldacres and upgraded the second research truck. Membership Growers continue to support BCG with the number of members increasing during the past year. Apart from the financial support, members across the region continue to support the organisation by generously providing their land for trials and other BCG activities. Members also contribute content for the Technical Bulletin, participate in the BCG Wimmera and Mallee Advisory Committees, and the BCG Research Committee and BCG Board. Members also support BCG hosted events and activities.

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73 Cumming Avenue, Birchip Victoria 3483 PO BOX 85, Birchip Victoria 3483 P: 03 5492 2787 | W: www.bcg.org.au | E: info@bcg.org.au

Inc No.: A0035543W | ABN: 92 087 981 510

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