ATTRACTING a crowd of close to 500 people, the recent BCG Main Field Day at Berriwillock has been declared one of the best to date.
Farmers from as far away as the Riverina, Central Victoria and South Australia joined hundreds from the Wimmera Mallee who took the opportunity to meet industry experts, hear from top public speakers and witness first-hand research in their region.
Preceding the official opening, the Wimmera branch of the Rural Press Club hosted a panel discussion focusing on the representation of agriculture in the media.
The panel, which comprised ABC broadcast journalist Kirsten Veness, Stock and Land editor Tyson Cattle, Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann and Advertiser Kate Magee, discussed and debated how changes in media consumption and delivery were being negotiated, and the challenges and opportunities these changes presented.
All agreed it was important to present agriculture as a modern industry, particularly as consumers were increasingly looking for information about where their food comes from.
“Let’s tell the modern, positive story about farmers,” Mr Weidemann said.
“If we, as farmers, are negative, then that’s the result,” he said.
The day was officially declared open to the capacity-filled marquee by BCG chair Caroline Welsh, after an enlightening season overview provided by site hosts Garry Summerhayes and John Renney.
The trial tours were popular with a high level of interest in research investigating risk management, seed treatments, micronutrients, liquid fertiliser options, grazing cereal crops, oat varieties, early sowing, row spacings, inoculant use on beans and barley and canola varieties.
Morning presentations on strategic grain marketing and site specific weed management were also well received.
After lunch a capacity crowd again filled the marquee to hear Nandaly farm consultant Matt Elliott present information on the range of seeding systems now available and how each might fit into a particular farming system.
The machinery focus continued with CTF Solutions consultant Wayne Chapman and Swan Hill farmer Ross Watson going through the process of implementing a controlled traffic farming system.
A highlight was the presentation by keynote speaker Dennis Hoiberg.
Founder of Lessons Learnt Consulting, with a special interest in building resilience, Mr Hoiberg engaged the audience with humour while delivering a serious message.
“You can’t look after your businesses if you don’t look after yourselves,” he said.
In the face of statistics that show that 20 per cent of Australians experience depression at some time, and with suicide the leading cause of death for people between 15-44 years, Mr Hoiberg said resilience, the ability to bounce forward and thrive through change and challenge, was never more important.
“But resilience is a process, not a destination,” he said.
“Think about why you are doing what you are doing. Does it make you happy.”
Mr Hoiberg’s down to earth way of speaking, mixed with humour and a good dose of irreverence, had the crowd captivated, but also thinking about what they needed to do to cope with difficulties and change.
These were important messages, particularly as many of the farmers in the room were justifiably concerned about how this growing season may end.
While most are remaining optimistic, evidenced by the up-beet mood during the day, Bureau of Meterology forecaster Eun-Pa Lim and DEDJTR seasonal risk analyst Dale Grey reported that most forecasting models were indicating an average to dry finish.
According to Mr Grey, there is little sub-soil moisture currently present in Wimmera Mallee soils, making crop success dependent on spring rain.
“It’s not looking as bad as it did last year, though,” Mr Grey reminded the audience.
The day concluded with sundowner refreshments provided by BCG.
Many took the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends and reflect on the day and what they had learned.
BCG expressed thanks to site hosts the Summerhayes and Renney families and to the Berriwillock community who provided excellent catering at the event, in aide of the Berriwillock Back To celebrations next March.
BCG members who were unable to attend the field day will be able to access audio recordings from the BCG website in coming months.

 POPULAR: BCG’s Tim McClelland discusses row spacing with the 500 strong crowd at the recent BCG Main Field Day, hosted at Berriwillock.
POPULAR: BCG’s Tim McClelland discusses row spacing with the 500 strong crowd at the recent BCG Main Field Day, hosted at Berriwillock.