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Agronomy Network meeting 4: Water policy update and managing soils & nutrients for success

Agronomists, service providers and researchers in feedbase came together in Moama in October for the fourth workshop in a series provided by the Accelerating Change project. The series is designed to strengthen relationships across the dairy industry, enhancing collaboration and capability in all areas of feedbase, providing participants with a range of information they can use to support dairy farmers in a changing environment.

The focus of the October workshop was to give participants an update on water policy, after a comprehensive session at the last network meeting, and to improve understanding on managing soils for success, wrapping up a large body of work Accelerating Change has done on this topic over the last 18 months.

Claire Miller, Dairy Australia’s Manager for Policy and Strategy, gave an update on water policy including progress of the Murray Darling Basin Plan implementation and additional water recovery measures. Claire was fresh back from a trip to Canberra and discussion mainly focused on the likelihood of whether an additional 450 gigalitres (GL) ('upwater') will be recovered from the Basin. The 450GL upwater was a late addition to the Plan as part of a deal with South Australia. The Water Act 2007 provides for the recovery of an additional 450 GL upwater within the Murray-Darling Basin by 2024, above and beyond the 2750 GL of water to be recovered by 2019 under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This water is intended to be recovered through on-farm water efficiency measures and, unlike the 2750 GL, can only be recovered if the impacts of recovery are socio-economically neutral (Aither report "A review of socio-economic neutrality in the context of Murray Darling Basin Plan implementation", March 2017. For more information click here).

The 450GL upwater is currently being debated in all corners of the Murray Darling Basin as well as in Canberra, and is the subject of a review conducted by Ernst and Young to determine the socio-economic impact of additional recovery and make a recommendation to government on a way forward, due at the end of this year.

The rest of Claire's presentation covered information of water policy previously discussed at the Agronomy Network for those that missed it. For more information see our write up here.

Lee Menhennett, from Incitec Pivot, shared his knowledge in effective nutrient management to drive crop & forage performance. Lee provided an overview of the processes that drive nutrient use efficiency and provided practical insights into issues and opportunities that need to be addressed in order to drive high agronomic performance this season.

Lee's presentation is available here: Christian Bannan, of South East Soil & Water, rounded off a hugely successful series of practical delivery over the last 12 months in the region by providing an overview of the impact of soil structural constraints that he had identified through his work on agronomic performance. Christian focused on strategies to identify and address soil constraints in order to drive water and nutrient efficiency, and achieve production goals.

Christian's presentation is available here.

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