It is a little belated, but welcome to 2021 and congratulations to the broad base of GroundCover™ readers for what I hope has been the best start to a year for the wider rural community in some time.
It is gratifying and, to be honest, more than a little inspiring to witness the resilience of the agricultural industry and the people who make it work day in, day out, year in, year out – often with too little return for such effort.
When seasonal outlooks are favourable, it is some reward for the enduring patience, hard work and commitment, even in these times of public health challenges and broader global trade and economic uncertainties. A promising start to a season holds out hope and confidence – a morale lift for us all.
On behalf of an organisation that both shares in and depends on these efforts, I would like to state how much the professionalism and commitment of growers is valued by us and the entire grains sector. This includes the tireless efforts of our research and agribusiness communities.
In addition to business and growing conditions generally improving, it seems there is also a gradual improvement in management and impact of COVID-19 restrictions around the nation. This easing provides us all with more confidence to commit to personal interactions and even travel plans, which provides the opportunity for myself and the GRDC team to focus on one of our most critical roles: engaging with our stakeholders.
There are many opportunities provided by GRDC and its service partners to engage and facilitate constructive two-way communication.
This allows the lessons and results of GRDC investments to be shared, as well as capturing current and emerging challenges that growers are experiencing.
I am sure many in the grains industry took the opportunity to attend the most recent round of GRDC Research Updates held around the country from the start of February. There is always positive feedback from attendees, so I encourage growers, researchers and advisers to attend wherever they can, either in person or via video conference if required by COVID-19 safety plans. Dates and locations of remaining Updates can be found on GRDC’s website.
There have also been a number of grower network forums held around the regions. Focused discussions with growers about local conditions, what is working and what is not working are invaluable. They allow us to integrate grower feedback into GRDC’s communication, extension and adoption plans, while also identifying potential medium to long-term investment opportunities.
Having regional offices has allowed us to be even more responsive to ideas, issues and opportunities that growers raise at these forums. It also provides a valuable connection to keep those on the front line of the Australian grains community aware of the developments and results from GRDC efforts, while capturing and sharing the wins that growers are achieving through applying new techniques and technologies to best business practices.
The application of these insights to how we design and execute impactful research investments will play a key role in prioritising GRDC’s planning decisions.
For GRDC, our regional advisory panels and our extension partners at these grower events, the primary focus is to understand more about which solutions growers have adopted and whether they have delivered the impact intended. Equally important is understanding which solutions were not adopted, and why, so we can learn even more about integrating new innovation across the farming systems into farming practices and apply these lessons to how future investments are designed.
The application of these insights to how we design and execute impactful research investments will play a key role in prioritising GRDC’s planning decisions. As I mentioned in my previous GroundCover™ editorial, impact only really happens when product or process solutions are bought and/or used. Understanding how likely an investment outcome is to be adopted contributes to investment decision-making.
At the start of this year, one of our GRDC team coined the phrase “survive 2020, thrive in 2021”. By capturing and incorporating key lessons and the most pressing and/or valuable grower needs into the right sort of responses, we will indeed be supporting growers to thrive in 2021 – and beyond.