CWFS hosted four pre-season events across the region this year – at Northparkes Mine and Wirrinya in February and Condobolin and Gunning Gap in March.

Unfortunately the Tottenham event had to be cancelled at very short notice. These events are always difficult to organize early in the year and due to an illness with the National Drones presenter and last minute conflicts from our agronomist and another key speaker we felt it better to re-organise and hold a new event later in the year. Thanks to Stacey and John Jarvis of the Top Woodlands Agricultural Bureau for their assistance.

John Kirton from National Drones made it to the Condobolin and Gunning Gap events on short notice after their original presenter became ill. He was unable to display the new ‘spot and spray’ drones now in use worldwide that we had hoped to showcase but instead gave a demonstration of drones using NDVI cameras mapping an area and recording data. This data was then uploaded to a laptop for inspection.

Attendees commented on how quickly the drones covered such a large area, although a couple of Wedgetail eagles (that can attack drones) at Condobolin delayed things for a few minutes!

Following on from the drone demonstration data, precision agriculture and new technologies were discussed. This space is moving quickly and we are striving to keep CWFS members informed and proactive in this area, as well as being aware of potential pitfalls.

Helen McMillan (CWFS) gave an overview of the 2017 Northparkes Mine trial site at that particular preseason event.

Guy Webb of AgriWest Forbes also spoke at 3 events, covering new research into symbiotic root fungi.  CSIRO and NSW DPI have recently approved and become involved with the root fungi research and although there is a long way to go this science could provide benefits to soil health in the region into the future.

Guy also spoke on cover crops, focusing on new varieties of radish which can punch through hard setting soils with a strong tap root.

Daniel Greef of the Parkes Rural Crime unit had to withdraw from two events at short notice to an urgent meeting in Sydney; we hope to coordinate with him later in 2018 for a farm security workshop.

Although attendee numbers were variable those that attended responded favourably to the events. Feedback and ideas for future events are welcomed from members.