The 2023 Brownhill Cup winner is the Duri Agricultural Bureau, a farmer-based organisation founded in 1919 and has been running continuously since then.
The award was announced at an AgQuip Grower Forum hosted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Grains Research and Development Corporation with NSW Farmers.
Now more than 104 years old, the Duri Agricultural Bureau is a collective of more than 25 farming businesses that meet every three months to discuss common farming issues and hear from guest speakers.
Duri Agricultural Bureau's recently re-elected president, Emily Stirling, was present at the forum to receive the Cup.
"As a group, we are incredibly humbled to receive the Brownhill Cup as recognition for the work the group has done within the district through successive generations of farmers," Ms Stirling said.
"The Ag Bureau has continued to provide a forum for our members to meet on a regular basis, share information and support each other.
Gordon Brownhill presented the cup on behalf of the Brownhill family, Merrilong, Spring Ridge, as a perpetual trophy to encourage landholders to apply conservation farming and efficient management practices.
Mr Brownhill said the cup celebrated the adoption of farming practices to improve agricultural enterprises' sustainability, profitability and productivity. He added it was started 35 years ago to encourage landholders to adopt soil conservation and efficient management practices.
He said only one other group had won the cup, the Boggabri Landcare Group.
"The Duri Bureau is unique - having something to go for 104 years and continue with the generations is amazing. The change in techniques and machinery has been so marked, from teams of horses at the beginning through to robot sprayers, GPS guidance and drones today," Mr Brownhill said.
Ms Stirling said Duri's key focus and interest was in crop competitions, improving practices and sharing information with members. Many Duri members also hosted research trials for NSW DPI and other research organisations.
"The Duri Agricultural Bureau has always worked closely with public and private organisations and commercial companies to access the best information and technology to improve our practices and shared that information with our members, which remains our focus today," Ms Stirling said.
She said the Bureau's members farmed from Duri to Somerton, including the Winton, Bithramere and Bective localities.
"Many are mixed farming operations, including winter and summer cropping rotations, prime lamb production, beef cattle, haymaking, and wool and egg production.
"We currently hold annual crop competitions for wheat, barley, canola, sorghum and quality awards for barley, durum and bread wheat," she said.
"Over many years, we have maintained a good association with researchers, field officers and agronomists within the Department of Ag and other commercial entities.
"Farming practices have changed enormously over the lifespan of the Ag Bureau, but our commitment to seeking the best information and applying it in the paddock remains our focus.
"The pioneering families of over a century ago would be proud of the way today's producers care, sustain and continue to embrace advancements in technology," she said.
NSW DPI's Director Northern Cropping Systems, Dr Guy McMullen, said seeing a grower-led organisation as the recipient of the esteemed Brownhill Cup this year was great.
Not many Agricultural Bureaus still exist after they were founded in 1910 by the Department of Agriculture to disseminate information and organise educational activities in rural areas, however, Duri remains active, he said.
"The Duri Agricultural Bureau is a building block for not just farming practice excellence in this district but also friendship, support and camaraderie for growers that support members during the good years and challenging times.
"With drought preparedness being at the top of everyone's mind, and the latest state seasonal update showing drought conditions have continued to develop in the north, north-east and south-east regions of NSW, being a member of a group such as the Duri Agricultural Bureau provides great support and the opportunity keeping learning and innovating.
"Congratulations to Duri Agricultural Bureau on receiving the 2023 Brownhill Cup," Dr McMullen said.
The Brownhill Cup competition commenced in 1983 as the Livestock and Grain Producers' Association Soil Conservation Farmer of the Year held between Quirindi, Currabubula/Werris Creek, Pottinger, Gunnedah and Boggabri district councils.
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