Home' The Loxton News : February 4th 2015 Contents The Loxton News, Wednesday, February 4, 2015 -- 9
MDBA total stor-
age decreased by
140GL this week,
with the active stor-
age now at 4834GL
(55 per cent capac-
Reservoir, the stor-
age decreased by 17GL to 3142GL (81
per cent capacity). The release, measured
at Colemans gauge, was held at 3000ML/
day for much of the week before increas-
es commenced late in the week.
At Hume Reservoir, the storage vol-
ume reduced by 89GL this week with
the total storage decreasing to below 50
per cent capacity at 1448GL (48 per cent
On the Murrumbidgee River the flow
at Balranald is now steadily receding
as the final volumes of the current Inter
Valley Transfer (IVT) are delivered to
At Menindee Lakes, the storage volume
continues to decrease under the combined
effect of the summer sun and minimum
releases. The current combined storage
volume is 147GL (8 per cent capacity)
and the release continues to target a flow
of 150ML/day at Weir 32.
At the Lower Lakes, the five-day
average water level in Lake Alexandrina
decreased by 1cm to 0.63m AHD. Higher
barrage releases continued this week and
included short flow pulses from Goolwa
barrage aimed at reducing siltation in the
Goolwa Channel and assist dredging.
Berri 220EC units, Morgan 280,
Mannum 330, Milang 760.
PICSE (Pixie): opportunities for
students in primary production
Riverland Wine is a proud support-
er of the Primary Industry Centre for
Science Education (PICSE).
This is a national program that focus-
es on connecting science teachers and
students with science based primary
industries and career paths.
GrowSmart's Trevor Noble manag-
es the local branch of PICSE from the
Loxton Research Centre.
Science education officers, all science
teachers, deliver the program at activi-
ty centres in Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney,
Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and
The program has an annual cycle con-
sisting of six phases, all of which are
1. An illustrated presentation is made
to year 11/12 science classes, showing
cutting-edge research and the impor-
tance of science to primary industry.
This presentation was given at all
Riverland high schools in 2014 to 250
senior science students.
2. Selected senior students participate
in a five-day camp which highlights the
career and research opportunities for
university science students in the pri-
mary industry sector. This year the camp
was held from November 24 to 28 and
included two days in the Riverland, vis-
iting Century Orchards, AgriExchange,
Calperum Station, Biological Services
and Banrock Station.
There were 51 applicants from across
the state for the program (a record),
from which 21 participants were select-
ed.3. Year 11/12 students are placed
with an individual industry for five
days, under an Industry Placement
Scholarship program. This will take
place in the first part of 2015.
Selected teachers work with indus-
try scientists and university researchers
to provide an annual national science
4. Phase four consists of a two-day
program of professional development
for teachers, exposing current research
and highlighting the relevance of class-
room science to industry. This was held
on December 8-9 in 2014.
5. Science and Engineering
Investigation Awards (SEIAs) presenta-
tion days are convened, in which mem-
bers of the scientific and local com-
munities judge the students' investiga-
tions. In 2014 over 100 students from
four Riverland primary schools and
three Riverland high schools entered
the SEIAs. The Riverland judging day
was held in August at the Peace Hall
in Loxton. The top entries from each
school were selected as finalists and
were judged at the Royal Adelaide Show.
PICSE acknowledges the generous
sponsorship of the program by Riverland
Wine in 2014. "We have been very grate-
ful for this support, which has enabled
us to continue with the program in the
Riverland region," Trevor said.
If you or a student you know is inter-
ested in science log on to the PICSE
website and find out more or call Trevor
on (08) 8584 5147.
Getting value for your R&D levy?
Would you pay for a meal at the pub,
but then walk out without eating it?
Would you buy a heap of fertiliser, but
then leave it in the shed and not use it?
The above scenarios are similar to
what is happening with much of the
effort being directed through the
Riverland Viticulture Technical Group
(RVTG) in the investment of regional
research and development (R&D) funds
that come to the region.
Two dollars from every tonne of wine
grapes produced by growers across the
nation is collected as a compulsory R&D
levy, which is in turn matched by the
A wise man once pointed out: "There
is nothing that a grower does in their
vineyard -- whether it is spraying, fertil-
ising, pruning or whatever -- that has not
been improved through R&D."
The RVTG has been active in the past
months, finalising the current submis-
sion for another round of projects that
will reinvest part of this R&D levy into
projects that benefit and help growers
across the Riverland region.
Some may be familiar with these activ-
ities in the form of spray field days such
as those held in recent times at Kingston
Others may be aware of Know Your
Numbers, a web-based business tool.
This, in particular, has had rave reviews
from growers who have used it.
Yet it seems that the uptake of many
of these tools, as helpful as they can be,
is low; attendance at field days has been
okay, but not what would be possible in
a region with over 1000 grape growers.
This is despite the continued hard
times in the industry and ongoing chal-
lenges for all industry participants to
make a dollar.
This is confusing. After all, it is your
grower levies that pay for the organising
of field days and the trialling of different
management techniques, the develop-
ment of grower tools and fact sheets
through the compulsory R&D levy. You
may as well use them to see if they give
you a benefit.
WET rebate debate hots up
The Wine Equalisation Tax (WET)
rebate has become a very hot potato in
The rebate's original purpose was to
assist small/medium winemakers to
stay in business, thereby encouraging
diversity in wine styles and helping to
generate employment in regional com-
munities, primarily through tourism
through increased cellar doors.
Its purpose was not to reward New
Zealand producers who export wine to
Australia or foreign entities that trade
from Australian stock, nor was it intend-
ed to apply to bulk wine transactions.
The WET was first introduced as part
of negotiations to get GST through the
Senate in July 2000. It provided for a
rebate on tax paid of up to $300,000 on
cellar door and mail order sales.
Since then the rebate has been
expanded several times, including to
New Zealand producers who export to
The threshold has also been raised to
$500,000. There has been much debate
among the industry peak bodies as to
whether the rebate is good or bad for
Riverland Wine is presently develop-
ing a position paper to be clear about
what this region's growers and wine-
makers think and what form any reform
Member for Barker, in eastern South
Australia, Tony Pasin has entered the
debate saying the rebate is more like a
subsidy, and scrapping it would save the
government millions of dollars, as well
as helping Australian winemakers.
He said recently, under the current
system, some New Zealand winemakers
selling wine in Australia are eligible for
a rebate on the Wine Equalisation Tax.
He says this is hurting the local indus-
try, especially in warm inland regions
like the Riverland in South Australia,
Sunraysia in north-west Victoria and the
Riverina in NSW.
"The subsidy is inherently unfair," Mr
Pasin said. "It's akin to playing the All
Blacks or the Silver Ferns with one hand
tied behind our backs. We wouldn't put
up with it on the sporting field, and
we shouldn't have to put up with it in
week ending Wednesday, January 28
Ag grants now open
Local businesses, community groups
and primary producers are encouraged
to apply for an agricultural and fishing
innovation small grants program.
The small grants program, which are jointly
funded through the SAMDB Natural Resources
Management Board NRM Levy and the
Australian Government's National Landcare
Program (NLP), aims to help organisations
adopt innovative practices.
The small grants program can be used to
undertake trials and demonstrations of agricul-
tural practices, development of technologies and
promotion of innovative agricultural practices.
Primary producers, including farmers and
horticulturalists, fishers, farming groups and
agricultural bureaus are among the groups urged
to apply for the grants.
Applications for the grants are now open and
close at 5pm on Thursday, February 19.
Ashley Chabrel has been
elected chairman of the South
Australian Murray Irrigators
The Barmera grower is currently
the chairman of the Riverland Field
Days Committee, is involved with
the Agricultural Bureau of SA and
is a member of the state's phylloxera
He is also a member of the
Community Industry Engagement and
Reference Group, helping to deliver
the $265 million SA River Murray
Sustainability Program (SARMS)
which is aimed at improving water
efficiencies and regional economic
Mr Chabrel said as a vice chairman
of SAMI, he will continue to monitor
water policies to ensure irrigators are
fairly treated, particularly in future
developments of water allocation
"Another major issue currently
affecting SA's River Murray irrigators
is the major increase in electricity
prices in recent years, further impact-
ing on their costs of production," he
SAMI chairperson Caren Martin
congratulated Mr Chabrel on his new
role and thanked Barossa irrigator
Paul Shanks for his contribution to
the position over the past four years.
"SAMI as an organisation has
stood the test of time and is fur-
ther enhanced with the generational
knowledge provided by Ashley and
the growing committee," she said.
"Ashley brings a practical, first-
hand, irrigator perspective to the
issues which SAMI advocates for.
"SAMI will continue to work for its
members in the SAMDB by provid-
ing meaningful input into the policies
which affect irrigators."
BUSY, BUSY: Over 70 people are currently employed at Angas Park's Loxton North site, which
is cutting peaches after finishing apricots last month.
-- Stephanie Gropler photos
FIELD OF COLOUR: The Loxton North Angas Park drying site was a sea of apricots last month,
with hundreds of trays basking under the sun.
Another above average crop
South Australia has recorded
its sixth consecutive above
average grain harvest, according
to the latest Crop and Pasture
Report from Primary Industries
and Regions SA.
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Minister Leon Bignell said the major-
ity of harvest had been completed,
with the Southern Yorke Peninsula,
Kangaroo Island, and the Lower South
East to wrap up harvest soon.
"The final estimate puts our 2014-15
grain crop at 7.63 million tonnes from
4.04 million hectares -- the state's sixth
crop in succession that exceeds the
long term crop production average of
6.6 million tonnes," he said.
"This represents a farmgate value of
about $1.8 billion, and an export value
of $2.2 billion.
"The heavy rain we saw earlier in
the season really benefited the crops,
despite South Australia experiencing
one of the warmest and driest springs
on record. The ideal harvesting condi-
tions saw many farmers complete their
earliest ever harvest."
PIRSA's grains industry account
manager Dave Lewis said the Western
Eyre Peninsula and the northern part
of the Upper North had an exceptional
season with yields, with most crops
"Lentil yields were slightly below
average in most districts, but high
prices offset the lower yields ensuring
good returns were achieved.
Mr Lewis said canola yields were
generally well below average across
the state due to a combination of the
beet western yellow virus, waterlog-
ging, frost damage, and dry spring
The South Australian grains indus-
try contributes $4.5 billion or 26 per
cent of the state's gross food and wine
About 85 per cent of South
Australian grain is exported around
the world, to locations including the-
Middle East, China, Japan and South
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