Letter from President

11 June 2013


Dear Members

This note is to keep you up to date with several developments in the Society relating to the remainder of this year.

1.    The annual subscription will rise from $50.00 to $60.00 as from 1 July 2013. As many of you will know, our subscriptions have not altered for several years as we attempt to keep costs down. Costs however do trend up, rather than the other direction, and for this reason we have reluctantly made the decision to increase our annual sub. Our Society subscription is cheaper than comparable societies in Australia and overseas and I believe that at $60.00 per year, it represents excellent value. The sub covers four newsletters each year, a very informative members only internet site, the conference proceedings and the opportunity to attend local activities at a reduced cost compared with non-members.

2.    As we have advised in previous newsletters, there will be no annual Grassland Society conference this year. The reason for making this decision is to give the International Grassland Congress to be held in Sydney in September a clear run to attract sponsors and attendees. Details of this important event appeared in the previous newsletter (volume 28, number 1, 2013) with registration information available here.

In place of the conference, a series of pasture update meetings will take place across NSW, thanks to funds provided by MLA. Dates and venues are yet to be finalised as they are to some degree dependant on completion of the DPI restructure. At the time of writing this letter, we are unsure of the availability of relevant people, able to take part in these meetings.

On more general matters, I trust seasonal conditions are improved for all members, with recent welcome rain and the opportunity to sow crop and pasture.

We encourage letters to the editor on most topics, so if you have any thoughts you would like to air through this newsletter, I am sure our editor would like to hear from you.

With best wishes to all members


Mick Duncan

The Grassland Society of NSW


New CliMate app

For those members using iPhones, this new app may be of interest:

Australian CliMate is a suite of climate analysis tools for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The App allows you to interrogate climate records (over the last 60 yrs) to ask a number of questions relating to rainfall, temperature, radiation, as well as derived variables such as heat sums, soil water and soil nitrate.

It is designed for decision makers who use past climate statistics, forecasts and knowledge of system status (e.g. soil water, heat sum) to better manage their business.

See here for more info: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/australian-climate/id582572607?mt=8 or download from iTunes.

Does not appear to be available for Android so this one is just for iPhone or iPad for now but well worth a look if you use either of those.


2013 Pasture Varieties Book now available

The latest edition of the Pastures Varieties book is now available both as a pdf download or flip book format for online reading.

Pasture Varieties used in NSW 2010-2011

Joint publication by NSW Dept Primary Industries and Grassland Society of NSW

Click here to download the file in pdf format (14MB file)

Pasture Varieties 2012-2013


From the Presidents Desk – July ’12

I begin on a sad note, acknowledging the deaths of two of our long serving members, Haydn Lloyd Davies in April and more recently Drew Wright in May. Our sympathies go to Haydn’s and Drew’s families. Haydn and Drew were great supporters of the Society, both serving in executive capacities and instrumental in getting the Society started over 25 years ago. They maintained their support and interest until poor health  intervened.

The Society owes much to these two scientists for their foresight, vision and dedication to agriculture as researchers and communicators. In addition, their friendship and good company will long be remembered by many of us who had the good fortune to be associated with them. Tributes to Haydn and Drew appear in this issue. Many thanks to John Ayres, John Read and Malcolm Campbell for these contributions.

Preparations for our conference to be held in Wagga on July, 24th – 26th are nearing completion with most members having received a registration form. These are also available from our internet site. The conference program will provide something of interest and inspiration to all attendees. The convenor, Nathan Ferguson, has put in a tremendous effort to attract top speakers on a range of topics that cover soil fertility, grazing management, alternative fertilisers, perennial pasture options and a session on omega – 6 fatty acid effects on lambing gender. In addition, the ever popular bus tours will give attendees the opportunity to see, first hand, successful and enterprising pasture and crop
strategies in the Wagga district.

An interesting extra feature of the conference is a “ Q and A “ facilitated by Phil Graham, exploring the aspirations of our younger farmers. This promises to be a great opportunity to look ahead with motivated farmers discussing their hopes for a bright future. I strongly encourage all our members to attend the conference and ask you to invite non member friends and neighbours to come along to see for themselves the benefits of Society membership.

Mick Duncan – President (Grassland Society of NSW)


2012 NSW Hay and Silage Awards

2012 NSW Hay and Silage Awards to recognise top quality

The NSW Grassland Society and NSW DPI are organising Hay and Silage Feed Quality Awards in 2012 to recognise producers who are making the best quality hay and silage in NSW.

While it has been a difficult season in some areas there have been reports of excellent quality silage and hay being made across NSW. These awards aim to focus attention on feed quality and encourage all producers to better understand the importance of quality when they make and feed hay or silage.

Entries will open in April when producers can start sending samples to the NSW Feed Quality Service in Wagga Wagga. The awards will be presented at the NSW Grassland Association annual conference which is to be held in Wagga Wagga 24 to 26 July 2012.

Organisers hope all producers will take advantage of the discounts being offered by the Feed Quality Service to analyse hay and silage samples submitted as part of the awards program. To add further interest major sponsors Integrated Packaging, New Holland and Pioneer will provide $5000 worth of prizes for winners to be announced at the Grassland conference.

Entry forms will be available from the beginning of April from NSW DPI and NSW Grassland Society websites and officers, sponsors and from the NSW Feed Quality Service Wagga Wagga or click the link below to download the form directly:

2012 Feed Quality Awards Entry Form

Entries close 6th July 2012.


Grants for Serrated Tussock projects

Applications now open for 2012-13 Community Action Grants 

The Australian Government is seeking applications for 
2012-13 Community Action Grants from local community groups to help them take action to conserve and protect their local environment. 

As in previous rounds, local community, farming and Indigenous groups can apply for a grant between $5,000 and $20,000 (GST exclusive) to fund projects that encourage active participation and build the skills and knowledge of the community to protect and restore our environment and natural resources. Projects may include hosting a local field day, developing natural resource management plans, educating land owners in sustainable agriculture techniques and on-ground works. 

Community Action Grant applications are subject to a competitive assessment process. Applications will be assessed based on alignment to Caring for our Country priorities, community engagement, project feasibility and value for money. All successful applicants must finish their project by 30 June 2013. 

For more information on eligibility and to submit a Community Action Grants application, visit the 
http://www.nrm.gov.au/“>Caring for our Country website or telephone 1800 552 008.

Applications close at 5pm (AEDT), on Tuesday 27 March 2012.

Programs that focus on the management of serrated tussock are eligible under this program as outlined in the Business Plan:

Reducing the impact of vertebrate pest animals and/or Weeds of National Significance

The target is to reduce the impacts of vertebrate pest animals and/or Weeds of National Significance to maintain or improve biodiversity and productivity outcomes in Australian Government priority areas, including on buffer zones and agricultural land.

Activities should focus on helping communities integrate action on all weeds and pests, including the identification of impediments and solutions to their effective control under different land uses to help protect biodiversity in priority areas. Their impact will be reduced more effectively through collaborative activities that control outlier infestations, strengthen containment lines and/or bring core infestations under management control, or eradicate where feasible, to reduce the risk of new infestations.

Investment scope

The Government is calling for invasive species applications that help communities to:

  • implement long-term solutions to the effective control of Weeds of National Significance and animal pests that threaten priority biodiversity areas across different land uses, including on agricultural land
  • control outlier infestations and/or strengthen containment lines of Weeds of National Significance where an adverse impact on biodiversity or other important environmental and/or productivity assets can be demonstrated
  • address the impact of vertebrate pests and/or Weeds of National Significance on nationally threatened species and communities occurring in World Heritage areas and critical aquatic habitats (including buffer zones), noting that pests that have already received significant funding under previous rounds of Caring for our Country will not be a priority for funding in 2012/13 (camels, cane toads, rodents on off-shore islands excluding Lord Howe Island and foxes in Tasmania)
  • contribute to the goals of relevant national strategies including Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2030, the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and the Australian Weeds Strategy including subsidiary species level strategic plans for Weeds of National Significance
  • specifically address the objectives and actions of the relevant Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 threat abatement plans and, where appropriate, any other relevant jurisdictional management plans
  • use technically feasible, recognised, permitted and effective control methods for the area being managed
  • comply with all relevant codes of practice and standard operating procedures for humane pest animal control including those available fromwww.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/vertebrate-pests/codes/humane-pest-animal-control.

It is likely that applications under this target will also link to outcomes under other targets, including Ramsar wetlands, coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats, World Heritage areas and/or sustainable farm practices targets.

At a local level Community Action Grants are also available to help communities manage threats from invasive species. For more information see how we invest


Graduate Certificate in Precision Agriculture

Australia’s first and only Graduate Certificate in Precision Agriculture will be offered by the University of New England, commencing in January 2012.

This study program is the fruit of more than 30 years’ combined experience within the University’s Precision Agriculture Research Group, Australia’s largest group working on the development and application of precision agriculture technologies in a variety of industries – including broadacre cropping, horticulture, viticulture, and livestock systems.

Students will gain knowledge and hands-on experience with current and emerging precision agriculture technologies like EM38 soil sensors, GNSS survey equipment, ground-based optical plant canopy sensors, airborne optical sensors, livestock tracking technologies, the ‘Pastures from Space’ program, and both farm-specific and generic geographical information systems.

This industry-informed course involves the completion of four semester-long units. The two core units, “Precision Agriculture” and “Introduction to Geographical Information Systems”, cover  global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and their application; handling spatial data and the practical use of geographic information systems (GIS); the application of remote sensing to agricultural landscapes; soil, vegetation and yield variability and the sensors used to measure it; livestock tracking and pasture management systems; the economics of precision agriculture; and issues associated with the adoption of new technologies.

The Grad Cert Precision Ag course is available for study both on and off campus, and can be completed part-time over one or two years. The Grad Cert Precision Ag course is open to graduates who hold a bachelor degree; or non-graduates that can demonstrate adequate qualifications and/or industry relevant experience.

To apply or get more information:    une.edu.au/precisionag

Contact Dr Mark Trotter (mtrotter@une.edu.au) or Prof David Lamb (dlamb@une.edu.au)

ALSO Keep abreast of the latest developments in PA R&D with the Precision Agriculture Research Group Facebook page: www.facebook.com/precision.agriculture


Grants available to reduce or manage the impacts of Serrated Tussock

Grants are available to reduce or manage the impacts of Serrated Tussock (as a Weed of National Significance) as outlined in the Caring for our Country’s Business Plan.

Community Action Grants are a small grants component of the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative that aims to help local community groups take action to conserve and protect their natural environment. The grants are targeted towards established local community based organisations that are successfully delivering projects to support sustainable farming and/or protect and enhance the natural environment.

Grants of between $5000 and $20 000 (GST exclusive) are available to take action to help protect and conserve Australia’s natural resources and environment. Projects must be completed within 18 months or less.

Applications close on Monday 1st August 2011.

More information, including how to apply, is available from www.nrm.gov.au or by calling 1800 552 008


Vol26/No2 Newsletter now online

The latest issue of the newsletter is now online with some great reading for all members.   Dont forget to fill out the member survey – this will give us valuable information on how the Society can best meet your needs.

Volume 26, Number 2, 2011 (pdf file 930kb)

  • Editorial – Carol Harris
  • Does Gibberellin increase winter grass growth? – Neil Griffiths and Peter Beale
  • Coolatai Grass Management – Jim Benton
  • More lucerne – more lambs – Catriona Nicholls
  • Smartphones and Tablets for Farmers – Leah Lane (see original article here)
  • Alternative Fertilisers – Harry Rose
  • From the President’s Desk – Mick Duncan

As mentioned in the newsletter, we are in the process of setting up a Facebook page - bear with us while we get this up and running but feel free to send your friend requests through.


Smartphones and Tablets for Farmers

Most farmers and graziers will know that a computer is an essential tool these days for running their business and managing their land. However, the computer revolution marches on and we now have new technology available to help in this task. Therefore, thought it might be timely to have a bit of a look at smartphones/tablets and how they can fit into your current technology mix.

The first decision you need to make is what operating system you want to use – ie. Android from Google or iOS from Apple. Detailed discussion of this is beyond the scope of this article – both have their pros and cons so take a little time to compare and price around. Essentially, the choice is between iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad or any of the Android devices from a range of manufacturers.

Smartphones – whether you choose an Android phone or iPhone, please check coverage in your area before committing to a plan. This is far more important to regional and rural users compared to those in major centres or cities so please check first. The smartest of smartphones is not much use if you cannot get a signal. Next most important is to select a suitable and affordable plan – remember that data is expensive so consider usage carefully.

Tablets – most people will immediately think iPad here – Apple defined the tablet with iPad and really created a device which changed the way we use computers. However, iPad is not the only choice and if you want to consider an alternative, there are quite a few to choose from now – generally smaller but can be quite a bit cheaper.

You can select from Wi-Fi only which means you will need to access a wireless network to connect to the internet or WiFi+3G which can access the internet via the mobile phone network. Decide whether you need constant access to the net (3G) or if your existing access to a wi-fi network is sufficient for your needs.  Note that GPS applications generally require 3G access for full functionality.

When you get one of these devices, they may be very “cool” but they’re not going to be very much use until you load some useful software – and this is where it gets interesting. There are a whole bunch of “apps” which can help make life a lot easier and/or more fun so check out the variety on offer here: see the Android Market here or access the App Store via iTunes or online here.    Here are just a few to get started:

Agriculture specific:

  • Agro / Agro Lite – paddock record system for farmers and agronomists.  Full version quite expensive but you can try the Lite version for free.  For iPhone or iPad
  • Spray / Spray Lite – Spray log system for farmers.  Full version a bit expensive but you can try the Lite version for free.  For iPhone or iPad.
  • DTN/The Progressive Farmer – agricultural news, markets and weather.  Free but USA focused.  For iPhone/iPad.
  • IFarmer:Inventory – inventory or recording for livestock management.  For iPhone/iPad.
  • SDCES Grazing Records – records grazing use and pasture condition. Free. For iPhone/iPad.
  • Cattle Breakeven Analysis – tool for quick breakeven calculations.  For iPhone/iPad.
  • Farmers Partner – Grain marketing/budgeting.  Android.


  • Google Maps – free and a “must-have”
  • Land Area Calculator – calculate area of polygon on a map.  iPad only.
  • numerous GPS and GIS apps

General Utilities

  • Unit Conversion – numerous apps to convert Metric and Imperial units.
  • Calculators – numerous apps to choose from.
  • Measuring – apps for measuring height/distance from photos, rulers, spirit levels, timers, protractors, compass, etc
  • To-Do Lists, Task Managers and Sticky Note apps
  • Weather apps – Weatherzone or BOM Water Storage.
  • News – numerous apps to choose from.


  • Field Guide to Victorian Fauna – a fantastic guide to wildlife (Victoria only but plenty of overlap for NSW readers). Free. For iPhone or iPad
  • WA Snakes – describes the 54 venomous snakes of WA.  For iPhone or iPad.
  • BirdSight Australia – for birdwatchers to records observations.  For iPhone or iPad.
  • Plant Pathology – encyclopedia of plant diseases. For iPhone or iPad.


  • iTunes University:  free podcasts from Cornell University, Yale, UCTV, Texas A&M, CSIS, etc
  • Climate Mobile – for long term, global climate information.  Free. For iPhone or iPad.

Fun and Recreation:

  • Games – too many to list.  Whatever your taste in gaming, you’ll find something to suit.
  • eBooks – all devices can function as an eBook reader and there are a multitude of free books available.  Great to have some good reading on hand.
  • Music – listen to your favourite music in the tractor, ute or wherever you are.
  • Photos – Store your favourite photos or take new ones any time.  Note that the first generation iPad does NOT have a camera.
  • Podcasts – listen to news, lectures, interviews, etc by podcast when it suits you.
  • Social Networking – easy access to Facebook, Twitter, etc from your mobile device.

The list above is just a starting point – everyone will have their favourite apps and we would love to hear about them.  Please feel free to comment below and suggest apps which may be of interest to the farming community.

There will also be gaps – whatever type of device you use, if you see a need for an app, then let the developer community know so they can create new apps to meet the market.  Likewise with universities, government departments, industry/research organisations, etc – if you want to interact with them via this type of new technology, let them know so they can get on board.