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Newsletter: Qld Report

By Jodie Redcliffe, 2013 Scholar and Chair

December 2018

Our five 2019 Queensland Scholars are all bright eyed and bushy tailed after being awarded their scholarships at the National Conference in Melbourne and getting a taste of things to come. In fact, Rebecca Comiskey is already travelling in order to take advantage of the World Brahman Congress in Colombia, as part of her Nuffield studies into modern technologies to accelerated genetic gain in beef.

At the National Conference in September, our 2017 Scholars delivered excellent presentations: Alex Nixon on sustainability of broad-acre farming, Ross Pirrone (2016 Scholar) on growing systems for protected cropping, Glenn Wormald on prawn nursery technology, Matthew Fealy on robotics in horticulture, Sarah Hughes (2016 Scholar) on opportunities in Wagyu and Luke Bradley on leadership in precision agriculture.

Also at the conference, Don Madden (2010 Scholar, and previous Qld State Chair), received The Keith McLean Memorial Award for a Nuffield Scholar to attend the 2019 ABARES National Outlook Conference in Canberra next March. Congratulations Don.

Congratulations also to those Queensland Scholars who have had reports released in October and November: Matthew Abbott (2016 Sch): Increasing value through Branding in the Banana Industry,  Ben Edser (2016 Sch): Renewable  Energy Technologies and the Broiler Poultry Industry, and Glen Wormald (2017 Sch): Prawn Nurseries; their role in improving efficiencies and yields for prawn farmers in Australia.

The five 2018 Queensland Scholars are all doing terrifically well. Stewart Borg and his wife Sarah entertained us with Facebook posts from Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Texas and Mexico in search of great Brahmans.  Sonya Comiskey has dived into the world of blogging to document her learnings, and Alison Larard has featured as speaker at various industry events, and penned a series of columns in the Queensland Country Life. Alison crossed the globe during the month of September, and her travels have now finished with 17 countries done (!) and her topic in order. Colin Burnett had an eventful GFP in June with a health scare on the China leg. After a hospital rest in Beijing he caught up with his GFP crew a couple of countries down the track. Steve Grist and wife Amanda’s baby turned one this month, so Steve knows all about the challenges of combining Nuffield studies with a young family.

On the topic of young families: in momentous cross-cultural Nuffield news, Glen Wormald and Kristina Polziehn (2017 Canadian Scholar), welcomed their baby girl Amelia last Christmas, got engaged in February and have just got married. Congratulations to you both! Finally, in other baby news, Sarah and Fred Hughes welcomed Teddy, brother for Harry, in October.

Seasonal Outlook

The summer outlook for Queensland is for a normal season with average to below average rainfall and a late start to the wet season. Good rainfall fell in the first few weeks of October in cropping regions. But winter crop production in Queensland is still expected to be the lowest in over 10 years with the dry conditions and low levels of soil moisture. Wheat, chickpea, barley and summer crop forecasts are all lower by multiples of 12% to 62%. Cotton production is forecast to fall by more than 50%. With the high prices for feed sorghum, production will rise slightly, but Queensland grain exports are expected to fall to negligible levels in the next 12 months.

Beef, with an ordinary season at best, will see herd numbers stay below the 2016 peak, however prices will be better for 2109 and 2020 with strong demand for feeder steers.

Queensland Farmers’ Federation has been working with University of Southern Queensland – Australia and Willis Towers Watson, to develop new and affordable crop insurance products that are being offered now, ahead of this cyclone season. In other good news for horticulture there has been an arrest in the strawberry tampering case which will restore confidence in this sector.

The Queensland Executive have begun conference preparations for 2019, with a venue, a great alumni conference committee and sponsorship engagement. Please put the dates in your diary and the cost in your budget for September 2019!

Thank you to the Queensland Executive: Nigel Corish, Camilla Phillip and Adam Coffey. On behalf of the committee I wish all Nuffield scholars a safe and peaceful Christmas season.

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