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 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.


Meat & Livestock is after your opinion

What should MLA’s investment priorities be for the feedbase over the next ten years, in southern Australia?  

MLA have commissioned a project to look at its feedbase investment strategy (the feedbase includes introduced and native pastures, fodder crops, dual purpose crops herbs and fodder shrubs) for the next 10 years.  As well as detailed discussions with all sectors of the industry, the opinions of a wide range of people associated with red meat production are being sought.

To have your say complete the short survey at the web address below, so that your views are considered.

For direct contact with the project team: email


Good attendance at tropical grass field day at Purlewaugh

Bill Manning District Agronomist I&I Gunnedah discussing the importance of nitrogen

A field day held at Purlewaugh by the Grasslands Society (NW Branch) in conjunction with Brownhill Cup Committee, NSW Dept Industry and Investment and the Liverpool Plains Land Management was well attended by 150+ people in March earlier this year.



The day held at Sam and Megan Clifton’s property focused on tropical grasses, their management and associated animal nutrition and management.  Zero tillage on mixed properties and mixed soils was also discussed. 

Pasture Picker Tool

The Pasture Picker Tool is a powerful resource for selecting pasture species suitable for your local conditions. It is a comprehensive guide to pasture species for anyone with an interest in animal production and research. The selection criteria, which can be applied for pasture systems across Australia, have been chosen in partnership with industry and R&D representatives.

This selection tool is a unique package that delivers in one location the accumulated knowledge of pasture industry experts from both the public and private sector. It is a pasture selection tool that can be used by farmers, advisors and agribusiness to select pasture species for specific conditions across Australia

This Pasture Selection Tool gives you the ability to:

  • Identify pasture species suitable for your climate, soils, production system and management
  • Access up to date information on these species with information on use, adaptation, and management of the pasture species and currently available cultivars
  • View images of the plants and their possible use

The Pasture Picker Tool is a collaborative project under the banner of Pastures Australia.

Pastures Australia is a Joint Venture for investment in the genetic improvement, management and adoption of pasture plants across Australia.

The partners are Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the Grains Research & Development Corporation(GRDC), Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Dairy Australia (DA), and the Rural Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC).

Agricultural Brain Drain

Found this interesting article on the ABC website today.

“Australia is set to lose up to half of its agricultural science and business professionals in the next five years, industry leaders have warned….Professor Jim Pratley, the secretary of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture, says coupled with declining university enrolments, the loss of senior agricultural professionals means Australia is seeing a brain drain when it is needed most.”

The article highlights some serious issues about staffing in agricultural research currently.  It is clear that government funding of agricultural research has been under significant pressure in recent years –  while the figures seem to indicate that there are plenty of jobs out there for agricultural graduates, retaining these graduates within the industry seems to be difficult.

Interested to hear your comments on this problem – or maybe you do not think it is a problem?   Comments are closed on the ABC article but you can add your opinion below if you would like to discuss this issue:

University of Sydney – Agriculture Centenary

Message for alumni of the Sydney University Agriculture faculty – an invitation to join the Centenary celebrations:

University of Sydney Agriculture Centenary

Happy Agriculture Centenary!

Join us throughout 2010 to celebrate 100 years of world-changing Agriculture!

There are events for alumni and friends across the decades including public lectures, cocktail / networking reception, lunches, Open Days, and research forums.

For many of you your university experiences were some of the best years of your life. You met so many people. Some remained friends for life.

Make the journey back to your alma mater, and take another look at where we are now, and where we came from.

100 Years. 100 Stories.

Alumni and friends – and of course your family – are invited to celebrate 100 years of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Reconnect with your classmates and teachers, and rediscover your University.

Show your family what you did at university at Special Open Days (Camperdown, Narrabri and Camden).

Agriculture Centenary Weekend, 4-6 June 2010. Centenary Research Symposium, Friday, 4 June 2010 from 8.30am

Tap into some of Australia’s, and the world’s, brightest minds at one of the stand-out events of the Centenary.

Attend a one-day research symposium, featuring how agriculture has changed the world, a century of global research, a hot issue debate on feeding the world, and a poster display by postgraduate emerging researchers.

Internationally recognised key note speakers.

Opening address by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Michael Spence

Back to Agriculture Open Day, Saturday 5 June 2010, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

A family fun day in the University of Sydney Quadrangle! Meet up with classmates and teachers; share your news, and show the kids what you did at university!      Free BBQ lunch.

Centenary Gala Dinner, Saturday 5 June 2010, 7pm for pre-dinner drinks

Join us at this Gala Dinner in the Great Hall, and step back in time to celebrate our first 100 years.

Organize Your Own Reunion, Sunday 6 June 2010

Sunday is free for you to organize a class reunion. Make the Centenary Alumni Weekend extra special: hold a picnic, meet up on campus for lunch etc. It is our pleasure to assist you anytime of the year with class lists, invitations and publicity.

Please contact the Faculty Alumni Relations Officer at to find out how.

Feedback: After your reunion it would be great to hear how it went. Send us your photos and details, however don’t forget to check with your attendees to get their approval!

Write home: If you find “lost” alumni, please let us know so we can update University records.

Farm Facts

Farm Facts 2009-10, published annually by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), is a compendium of useful and authoritative facts and figures on Australian agriculture, based on fully attributed data from independent sources.

It is designed as a fast reference to top-of-mind national and state-by-state facts about Australia’s farm sector, including a reference for drilling down to specific data on Australia’s leading agricultural commodities, covering: Beef, Cotton, Dairy, Dried Fruits, Grains, Rice, Sheep Meat, Sugar and Wool.

For more about the latest edition of Farm Facts, please see the National Farmers Federation website or click here to download the 2009/10 Farm Facts in pdf format.

Do More With Google

Most of us use Google frequently as our search engine of choice.  It is quick and easy to use but Google now offers much more so why not take a closer look.

The basic Google search page offers the main search box with a few extra links in the top left corner.   If you click the “More” link, you’ll discover a whole range of extra features.  Here are just a few:

  • Image Search – comprehensive photograph/image search
  • Google News – search news headlines (World, Australia, Business, Sport, Sci-Tech and more) – personalise it to suit your interests
  • Google Maps – interactive mapping with street/road maps, satellite image or terrain maps.  Go to Street View for a close-up look or get driving directions. 
  • Book Search – browse entire libraries – views range from full text, limited previews to snippets depending on copyright.
  • Google Scholar – search the scientific literature – full bibliographic data provided in the search result
  • Google Translate – if you need to translate some text or a whole website from one language to another, use this tool

Quick Unit Conversion – Google offers a quick unit conversion (including currencies) via the search box.  Simply type “amount old unit” in “new unit” into the search box to see the answer above the results list.  Also works for simple calculations.
For example:
12 acres in hectares  (answer is 4.86)
23+(34*2)=       (answer is 91)
100 AUD in USD    (answer is $63.89 on current rates)

Google Applications – Google now offers much more than search.  The Gmail service is a great add-on to your existing email or can replace it entirely.   Other apps worth checking out are Google Docs, Picasa, Calendar and Blogger.