In June 2017, 7 growers from the North Burnett district climbed aboard the bus for a couple of days of investigation, motivation and learning.
The group departed on a Tuesday afternoon to be prepared for an early start on a Wednesday morning at Farmfest. Growers spent a full day walking the many roads of the Farmfest site, investigating new products released to market and making sure the many sales-persons on site were kept busy. The large variety of items and businesses on display meant there was something to snare the interest of everyone on tour with their own varying enterprises. Luckily there was room on the bus for the smaller purchases made on the day!
Weary legs were rewarded with a social evening with Sam & Jenny Bailey in Toowoomba. As Keynote Speakers, Sam & Jenny presented a moving story of how pain and circumstance can be overcome by resilience, perseverance and love.
Sam was a gifted sportsman loving life as a Ringer on a cattle station when a serious car accident rendered him a C6/C7 quadriplegic. Sam has the gift of painting a picture with his words and he took the group on a stirring journey as he explained how he coped with the challenges that come with being a quadriplegic and how he progressed from surviving to thriving. He is now a farmer, pilot, husband and best-selling author who is aiming to become the first quadriplegic in the world to fly a helicopter and visit with children to inspire them to follow their dreams (refer www.sambailey.com.au).
The presentation was topped off with Sam & Jenny both describing how they met and fell in love. Together, they make a formidable team that left the growers in awe. Feedback from the evening has drawn responses such as “inspiring”, “amazing”, and “profound” – heartfelt words from a group of life-hardened famers! Each Grower had the privilege of receiving an autographed copy of Sam & Jenny’s book as a souvenir. A social catch-up ensued with Sam & Jenny being the last to leave the party!
The group were on the road again on Thursday to Hermitage Research Centre via Warwick. First on the agenda was Mr Col Douglas who gave growers an update on both Chickpea and Mungbean breeding and genetics. Col covered many topics, including comparisons of different varieties of plants and their performance in the CQ Region. Of particular interest was the gathering of wild Chickpea plants from their native Turkey with the intention of using the genetics to assist with disease resistance in commercial varieties of Chickpea.
Mr Kerry McKenzie was the next speaker on the agenda who gave a comprehensive update on Chickpea and Mungbean agronomy and how to maximise yield. This information was particularly valuable as all of the North Burnett growers in the room are farming Chickpeas and/or Mungbeans in their relative seasons. Kerry described which management tactics could be manipulated to maximise crop yield such as row spacing, fertiliser application rates and herbicide management.
Before a short field walk through trial plots at the Research Centre, Kerry specifically addressed fixing Nitrogen in cropping soils and how to best increase Nitrogen via plants such as pulses and legumes or planting green manure crops.
The long journey home from Warwick was eased by discussion amongst Growers about what was learned over the journey. Many ideas and strategies were debated and motivation was plentiful.
This Tour was funded by the Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services in conjunction with the Reef Alliance ‘Growing a Great Barrier Reef’ project (funded by the Australian Government and delivered through the Reef Trust). Burnett Catchment Care Association worked in partnership with Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. and North Burnett Regional Council to deliver this Grain Growers Research & Resilience Tour.