Cropping

Communication a key

By Country News

Communicating and connecting with end consumers was a strong and emerging theme at this year’s VFF Grains Conference.

The 2019 conference, held across February 24 and 25, featured two new panel sessions to address social licence to operate (approval of an industry from the community) and chemical stewardship.

O’Connors’ product support specialist Jake Olver spoke as part of the newly introduced panel session on chemical stewardship and spray drift management, highlighting some key ways growers could utilise technology to manage their environmental obligations and input costs at the same time.

‘‘Reducing spray drift contributes directly to the bottom line and it is also necessary if we are to retain the social licence required to apply chemical,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s a lot of information out there about appropriate nozzle selection and boom height to manage drift, plus a range of Pulse Width Modulation technologies, such as the AIM Command systems on our self-propelled Case IH Patriot Sprayers, that can be implemented to ensure an effective and safe spraying program.

‘‘Ultimately, if you’re not sure, the best thing you can do is consult an expert.’’

VFF Grains Group manager Alister Boyd said social licence to operate was a crucial part of marketing the industry to the general public.

‘‘As an industry we can and do farm responsibly, and we need to communicate that message to the non-rural sector,’’ he said.

‘‘The panel session covering social licence and marketing farming to the non-rural sector saw some great conversations about reaching our consumers through two-way communication, education, and openness.

‘‘If we’re not actively telling our story, consumers will get their information elsewhere, and we’ll have no input into that narrative.’’

More than 100 farmers and industry members attended the conference, with sessions also covering mental health and supply chain efficiency.

The conference was also a chance for VFF Grains Group to welcome Ashley Fraser as the new Grains Group president, replacing outgoing president Ross Johns.

O’Connors sponsored the event.