Understanding the research priorities and needs of southern NSW grain growers and getting their feedback was the driving motivation behind a recent Grains Research and Development Corporation Board tour to the region.
Led by grain grower John Woods, who took on the role of GRDC board chairman in October, seven of the eight-member board visited the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre on July 27 to engage with growers, grower groups, advisers, researchers and community members.
Mr Woods said it was critical the organisation understood the different challenges facing growers from different geographic regions, along with their research needs and priorities.
‘‘As a board we need a strong and collaborative relationship with growers, which is why we have placed a significant emphasis on getting out into regional areas, like southern NSW, and gaining insights into what is needed on the ground,’’ Mr Woods said.
‘‘Understanding what growers need is vital, because we have the responsibility of ensuring their levy investment delivers paddock-ready solutions to production constraints, assists in reducing production costs and most importantly has a positive impact on their overall farm profitability.
‘‘Visits like these present a unique opportunity for the GRDC board and executive staff to talk face-to-face with growers to directly hear their concerns and suggestions on investment priorities and the appropriate balance of the investment portfolio,’’ he said.
FarmLink chief executive officer Cindy Cassidy said the GRDC board’s interest at a grass roots-level reinforced the organisation’s commitment to focus on grower profitability when setting the Research, Development and Extension agenda.
‘‘This visit was a great opportunity for growers across southern and central NSW to know the people behind the vision,’’ Ms Cassidy said.
‘‘This level of interaction helps to build a sense of partnership between growers and GRDC and is reflective of the recent strategic changes we are seeing in GRDC.’’
Growers from across the region and members of Central West Farming Systems, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee, Holbrook Landcare Network and Riverine Plains farming systems groups also joined the board for lunch and further discussion.
Mr Woods said the issues highlighted by grower representative groups included the need for quality extension in the region, and the need to be agile and responsive to short, medium and long-term issues as they arise.
He said growers also emphasised the need to address issues specific to irrigated crop production and the need to consider the role of pastures in cropping rotations.