Out in the field: Victoria’s high-rainfall zone

Rain, hail or shine, Coretext is frequently out in the field covering stories for our clients. Last week, I put on my waterproof jacket to visit Lake Bolac, Horsham and Lalbert, in Victoria’s high-rainfall zone (HRZ) to speak to growers and researchers for the GRDC’s Ground Cover magazine.

Victoria’s HRZ is a hotbed of development in cropping. Long seen as too wet, over the past decade the region has experienced a big shift to grain production as livestock has become less profitable. The area now offers a potentially huge expansion to Australia’s grain output.

Tom's muddy bootsBut that potential doesn’t come without challenges. Cropping in areas with such high rainfall is in many ways new territory and the GRDC has made significant research and development investments in the HRZ: to improve productivity, to decrease weed, pest and disease pressure, to manage climate change and to improve sustainability.

Last week I met up with researchers from the grower-driven R&D group Southern Farming Systems, who are exploring integrated weed management and stubble retention; visited the Australian Grains Genebank and Plant Phenomics Victoria centre in Horsham; and caught up with growers at Rupanyup and Lalbert East.

The takeout for me: the challenges of the HRZ’s brave new cropping frontier are being addressed by world-leading researchers and R&D facilities, and an industry populated by innovative and creative growers. Despite the overcast sky during my visit, the forecast certainly appears to point to a bright future.

You can read more about this research in the upcoming September–October issue of the GRDC’s Ground Cover magazine. Before that, we encourage you check out the July–August issue – online 4 July.

Photo of Southern Farming Systems' Paul Breust

Tom spoke to Paul Breust, projects coordinator at Southern Farming Systems.