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Meet the dedicated team improving on-farm grain storage

GRDC’s ‘Grain Storage Extension Project’ has delivered 244 workshops to 6300 growers, advisers and industry personnel in the past three years.
Photo: Stephen Rich

Key message

  • GRDC’s grain storage extension team has supported growers through a doubling of on-farm grain storage capacity over the past 12 years.

GRDC’s grain storage extension team is on the ground to help growers get more from on-farm storage.

Not every grain grower is able to buy new storage, but every grower should have access to information to help select and effectively utilise the most appropriate storage options for their business.

Over the past 12 years, GRDC has invested in the ‘Grain Storage Extension Project’ to help the industry to adjust during a period when on-farm storage capacity has doubled. The team’s role is to extend research findings and provide a feedback loop for grower questions and information gaps requiring research. The extension team works closely with researchers, growers and industry.

Over the past three years alone, the team has delivered 244 workshops to 6300 growers, advisers and industry personnel.

In addition to the workshops, extension activities have included publishing an 80-page GrowNotes Grain Storage Manual, maintaining the dedicated Stored Grain information hub and providing direct telephone support via 1800 WEEVIL. The team members also extend messaging through multimedia and social media channels, support manufacturers and commercial operators and are actively involved in industry organisations and groups.

Meet the team

Bringing 19 years’ experience in his current role, Philip Burrill is based in Warwick, Queensland, and has a lifetime of knowledge in grain production and storage. Recognised by GRDC’s northern Seed of Light Award in 2018, Philip’s dedication to helping growers improve their on-farm grain storage is second to none.

grain storage extension team photos

GRDC’s grain storage extension team (left to right): Philip Burrill, Ben White, Chris Warrick and Alex Conway, who have supported growers during a period when on-farm storage capacity has doubled.

Philip, who works at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), has regular interaction with DAF’s post-harvest research team based in Brisbane, who are supported by GRDC investment. This promotes a two-way flow of research results and feedback from growers on required research.

Ben White has built a career in researching and sharing information with growers to foster improvements to operations and profitability. Based in Perth, Western Australia, Ben was also recognised with GRDC’s Seed of Light Award (western region) in 2021. With a rural background and as a qualified engineer, Ben brings strengths to the team in managing various storage facilities, aeration systems and exploring new technology.

Based in Horsham, Victoria, Chris Warrick leads the national collaborative team and brings both practical and business experience with a degree in farm business management. After years of training from Philip and the late Peter Botta, Chris not only delivers information to GRDC’s southern region growers, but also coordinates the national suite of resources and project outcomes.

Now and into the future

Survey results indicate that the project is driving change in key areas of on-farm storage best practice. Importantly, these include an increase in the proportion of on-farm storage capacity that is gas-tight-sealable, which has surpassed 50 per cent, to enable effective and reliable fumigation of grain (Figure 1).

Figure 1: On-farm storage capacity by type. chart of On-farm storage capacity by type

Source: Kondinin Group National Agricultural Survey 2021 #108

While the need for gas-tight-sealable storage is not yet accepted by every grower and manufacturer, the survey results show an encouraging and steady increase – 76 per cent of growers now have at least some sealable storage on-farm, up from 56 per cent a decade ago.

Recently identified information gaps are being addressed through GRDC investment in development activities. These activities, specifically aimed at answering questions and identifying research gaps, are an opportunity to field test theories, new technology and validate lab research.

In 2021, Toowoomba engineer Alex Conway joined the team on a part-time basis as part of a capacity-building drive and has been learning all he can, working alongside Philip. The team is also looking to appoint another person in the near future.

More information: 1800 WEEVIL,, Stored Grain website, GRDC Grain Storage GrowNotes

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