SunRice Grower of the Year operation opens for visitors


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Rice growers will see up close exactly what impressed the SunRice Grower of the Year award judges when they visit Peter and Renee Burke’s operation on Thursday, 12 December 2019.

The Burkes won the 2019 award for their outstanding agronomic and business management on the 1280-hectare irrigation farm they own and operate near Jerilderie.

Troy Mauger, Rice Extension said the Burke’s farming operation featured industry-leading management practices, excellent workplace health and safety, water use efficiency driven by recycling and a move to drill sowing for better establishment, and water management of rice crops.

“In 2018–19, Peter and Renee achieved exceptional production results, including an average yield of 13 tonnes per hectare, which is 33% above the Murray Valley five-year average for Reiziq,” said Mr Mauger.

“The judges remarked how well the Burkes integrate business and agronomic principles, including soil testing, stubble management, drill sowing, employing off-farm expertise to good effect and notably, using the temporary water market to secure water at minimal cost.”

The open day run by Rice Extension at ‘Mayfield’, 1163 Willows Rd, Jerilderie will kick off at 11.30am and wrap up by 4.30pm, to be followed by a social meal and refreshments.

Presentations on the day include:

  • How did the Burkes achieve 33% above average yield drill sown Reiziq crop in C19?
  • Implementing a WH&S program on your farm with Safe Ag Systems
  • C20 Rice crop inspection and NSW DPI agronomic and variety trials
  • ‘What makes a successful farm business?’ Q&A panel with:
  • Geoff King, Westpac
  • Paul O’Donnell, Brian McCleary & Co Accountants
  • Greg Sefton, Sefton Agronomics
  • Anthony Rudd, I-AG PTY LTD
  • Tom Howard, SunRice

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researcher and AgriFutures™ Rice Program Panel Member Brian Dunn will also present his research including the benefits of drill-sown rice.

“Peter and Renee made a strategic decision in the 2017–18 season to adopt the drill sowing method for rice establishment, having practised aerial sowing for many years,” Mr Dunn said.

“They’ve provided evidence that drill and aerial sowing achieve similar grain yields, but drill sowing allows for greater water productivity and flexibility within the production system.

“Water is a big issue for rice growing – the aim is to produce rice with less water.”

Mr Dunn said the SunRice Grower of the Year Award recognised innovation, new technology and latest research outcomes adopted in the rice industry.

“As winners, the Burkes showcased high yields and high water use efficiency crops grown in a sustainable way with successful adoption of new technology and innovation,” he said.

Identifying the best rice growers in the industry was no easy task for the judges, and many factors contributed to the Burkes standing out from other nominees for the award.

Peter Burke said the move to drill sowing was due to a number of reasons, including better duck control and water use efficiency.

“The installation of new inlets allowed higher flow rates (up to 30 ML per outlet) onto the farm, which makes the irrigation management more timely and effective for the area of rice grown each year (400 plus hectares), large,” Mr Burke said.

Mr Mauger said celebrating the best growers would allow the industry to inspire all rice growers to strive for higher productivity with improved yields, maximised water use efficiency, and adoption of new technologies and sustainable management practices.

When: Thursday, 12 December 2019

11:30 am – 4:30 pm AEDT

Where: Jerilderie, NSW 2710

RSVP: Please register your attendance via Eventbrite

Free buses will run from Griffith and Barham leaving at 9.30 am and return by 8.00 pm. Route is dependent on demand so please register your interest by 5 December by contacting Harriet Brickhill, Rice Extension on 0419 790 019 or

For more information about the Field Day and the Grower of the Year awards please visit

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