A FOUR day tour of NSW grain growing regions has allowed growers to share their industry insights and concerns.
The tour by the GRDC's Northern Region Panel visited growers, research trial sites and grain end-users through the Parkes, Jemalong, Condobolin, West Wyalong, Temora, Marrar, Greenethorpe, Gooloogong and Manildra regions.
GRDC northern panel chairman John Minogue said the tour had an important advisory and strategic role in helping to guide ongoing and future research investment.
"Panellists are the GRDC's eyes and ears on the ground, so getting out into growers' paddocks and onto research sites and engaging with end-users is critical for gathering information about the future needs and priorities for research, development and extension," Mr Minogue said.
"We do two tours each year to different parts of Queensland and NSW and these are very much focused on engagement. This consultation is a two-way street - it allows the GRDC to explain its investments as well as hear what growers, farm advisers and industry consider important.
GRDC Northern Region Panel Chair John Minogue, Barmedman with growers Dan Mattiske, "Yarraville", Forbes, and Ruth Klinger, "Ridgehaven", Forbes and Paul Adams, "Dysart", Tottenham.
"Tours like these are a critical touch-point with industry and an opportunity to `ground-truth' existing GRDC research investments against industry needs and priorities to ensure that we identify any research and development gaps."
Mr Minogue said while many growers and advisers across central western and southern NSW were battling drought conditions most were positive about the long-term future of the grains industry and valued the role research played in ensuring their profitability.
"Many on the northern panel are growers or farm advisers so we understand how tough it is out there, but meeting with and hearing from those across different regions really gave us insight into the situation on the ground," he said.
"The GRDC panel repeatedly heard that there was a need for livestock to be incorporated into trial work to provide growers with as many options as possible when it comes to their farming systems," Mr Minogue said.
"Growers were also interested in technology and how they could measure and justify the capital expenditure before introducing new innovations on-farm.
"Given the ongoing dry conditions there was an understandable focus on mental health, along with the need for hardier varieties, better agronomy or breeding to overcome constraints, such as heat and frost.
"Another area generating significant interest at a paddock level is the contribution cover cropping and companion cropping play in improving soil health."
Mr Minogue said the information gathered during the tour would be passed onto the GRDC investment managers, who use it to help refine investments at regional and national levels, with the goal of creating enduring profitability for the grains industry.
"A valuable part of this tour was also engaging with grains' end-users to discuss potential opportunities for post-gate investment into research and development," he said.
"We know how important transport is to grain growers so we visited the Parkes National Logistics Hub to get an understanding of how developments like the proposed inland rail will affect industry.
"This tour we also met with dairy operators Moxey Farms at Gooloogong and MSM Milling in Manildra, because understanding the needs of our end users is critical in determining how we meet market requirements."