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The National Grower Network: Listening, learning and responding

The National Grower Network provides opportunities to dive deep on local issues and respond rapidly to emerging challenges.
Photo: Amir Benlakhief, Unsplash

Entrepreneurs have a golden rule for product development: engage with stakeholders and ensure there is actually a market for your innovation. Research, development and extension follows the same principle.

The responsibility of spending levy payer and taxpayer dollars means that re GRDC, we have to be on the ground, engaging and listening to growers – truly understanding limiting factors or opportunities available to enhance their profitability, sustainability and resilience.

In 2021, GRDC recognised an opportunity to evolve how it undertakes stakeholder engagement. The goal was to develop a more open community or network approach to understanding and responding to grower issues across GRDC’s regions.

As a result of these changes, GRDC’s National Grower Network (NGN) involves GRDC staff – primarily grower relations managers – getting on the road, visiting grain growing communities and listening to how they would like their levy payer dollars spent. The NGN also provides the opportunity to dive deep on local issues to better understand impact, and GRDC’s opportunity to invest, at a sub-regional level.

The key features of this national engagement process are the ability to:

  1. Support meaningful engagement with growers, advisers and other industry stakeholders, including participation in the delivery of GRDC investments.
  2. Improve our understanding of local issues and responsiveness to development, validation and extension investment opportunities.
  3. Assist in the development of investments that are locally relevant, nimble, timely and have on-farm impact.

Since 2021, it has been exciting to see these local ideas flowing directly through to responsive, local investments across the country. It has also been really rewarding to see that this approach has allowed GRDC to invest to address some issues that are small in scale, but highly impactful.

For example, hard-to-manage weeds such as Rosinweed and Star of Bethlehem have received attention, as profiled in Issue 166 of the GroundCover™ Supplement, which might not have otherwise made it up national lists of prioritised weeds.

It is important to recognise that the opportunities and constraints identified through the NGN are vital to informing GRDC’s entire RD&E portfolio.

In conjunction with our Regional Panels, stakeholder perspectives are integrated into the RD&E investment process and shape larger programs of work.

The Supplement dedicated to the NGN is a snapshot of some of the fantastic investments that were prioritised and driven from the grassroots. The stories offer examples of the local and applied impact delivered by GRDC investment through the NGN, alongside its larger upstream research projects and riskier blue-sky investments.

We encourage you to engage with the NGN by attending a GRDC Grower Forum in your area or contacting your local GRDC grower relations manager (see outside back cover for their contact details).

More information:  GRDC National Grower Network website.

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