DAFF, Future Drought Fund advisers make fruitful Mildura visit to Vic Hub team

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L-R: Bronwyn Harch, Caroline Welsh, Dale Park, Brent Finlay (Chair) and James Rowe (all FDF Hubs Advisory Committee), with Michael Tausz, Vic Hub Director. Image credits: Tegan Buckley, Mallee Marketing
Through 18 sessions by 26 presenters, the Vic Hub showcased its work in drought-resilience practices and innovation to high-level government delegates at Mildura in early December.


Professor Michael Tausz, director of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, said the visit by the Future Drought Fund (FDF) Hubs Advisory Committee and members of the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) was extremely fruitful, providing them an excellent opportunity to connect with on-the-ground activities.

“Although the Mildura region is impacted by floods, it is still important to talk about drought resilience. The FDF Hubs Advisory Committee and DAFF are visiting each of the eight hubs around Australia to see the impact of FDF funds in projects on the ground. We were very pleased to welcome the delegation to Mildura to showcase how farms, communities and the environment are benefiting from this collaborative work.”

Led by the University of Melbourne, with HQ at its Dookie Campus, the Vic Hub brings together a unique mix of partners: five grower groups – North-West Irrigated Horticulture Regional Node, Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (MRIC), which hosted the visit; North-East Regional Node, Riverine Plains; North-West Regional Node, Birchip Cropping Group; South-West Regional Node, Southern Farming Systems; and South-East Regional Node, Food & Fibre Gippsland – along with other partners Agriculture Victoria, La Trobe University, Deakin University and Federation University.

“Throughout the tight program we were able to show and talk about Vic Hub projects across citrus, grape and broadacre crops, skills enhancement, water, livestock, supply-chain components, agtech, biosecurity, soils and bees.”

MRIC CEO Rebecca Wells said, “The visit provided an opportunity to build an understanding of how drought impacts the region, enhance knowledge on drought impacts on horticulture, and where the opportunities lie in undertaking work to strengthen resilience and drought preparedness. We were very pleased to be able to demonstrate the diversity of the Mallee region’s agricultural enterprises to the FDF Hubs Advisory Committee, DAFF and the other partners in the Vic Hub who had not toured this area before.”

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Back L-R: Caroline Welsh, Dale Park, Brent Finlay (Chair), James Rowe (all FDF Hubs Advisory Committee) and Katrina Baxendell (Director – R&A Strategy & Hub Management, DAFF). Front L-R: Bronwyn Harch (FDF Hubs Advisory Committee), Melissa Cann (Program Manager Resilience & Recovery, Agriculture Victoria), Blake Zur (Acting Principal Director – R&A Strategy & Hub Management, Drought Resilience Research & Adoption, DAFF) and Kirrilly Allen (Assistant Director – R&A Strategy & Hub Management, DAFF).

The program included site visits to:

  • SuniTAFE Smart Farm
  • Seaway Intermodal Hub at Merbein (logistic specialists from farm gate to international destinations)
  • A tour of the Merbein Irrigation District
  • Lower Murray Water Treatment Plant
  • Broadacre cropping (robust groundcover to enable resilience in low rainfall), citrus and grape properties
  • Agriculture Victoria Smart Farm
  • Mallee Sustainable Farming
  • Landcare
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The Vic Hub team, FDF Hubs Advisory Committee and DAFF representatives on a field trip during the Mildura visit.

Topics among the 18 sessions included:

  • Results of the completed Horticultural Skills Capacity Framework to Build Resilience and Skills Retention Project
  • Work in improving soil health
  • A Blue Green Algae Project in development
  • An overview of the newly formed National Emergency Management Agency
  • An update on the Cross Hubs’ Drought Management for the Health and Longevity of Perennial Horticulture Plants Project
  • An overview of the soon-to-be-released Ag Innovation podcast series
  • Work in biosecurity with bees
  • Stock containment
  • The Natural Resource Management Drought Resilience Program ­­– Landscape Stream Project

More than 50 people partook in the three-day program, which highlighted ongoing research and outcomes for farms, the environment and communities in drought-resilience practices and innovation through projects funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Vic Hub director Michael Tausz said, “The Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub operates as a collaboration of 10 organisations across the state. This visit demonstrated that teamwork perfectly, with all partners contributing to the program.”

For more information on the Vic Hub and its work, please visit https://vicdroughthub.org.au

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Representatives of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub who were visiting in Mildura, along with FDF Hubs Advisory Committee and members from the DAFF Drought Resilience Research & Adoption team.