Grains Research and Development

GRDC Update Papers

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This page contains papers from the GRDC Update series for both growers and advisers.

To download the proceedings booklets from the 2014 Updates, visit the 2014 Update Proceedings Booklets page.

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  • Managing crown rot through crop sequencing and row placement

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    25.07.2014
    GRDC Project Code
    DAN00116
    Presented At
    Presented at the Warialda GRDC Grains Research Update July 2014 by Andrew Verrell.
    Region
    North

    Take home message
    • Crop sequencing results in average yield gains of 17-23% over continuous wheat
    • Sow break crops between standing wheat rows, which need to be kept intact
    • Sow the following wheat crop directly over the row of the previous years' break crop and NOT between the old rows
    • This system will only work for zero tillage systems where wheat stubble is kept intact

  • Drones and UAVs: What is available now and what is possible in the future

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    25.07.2014
    GRDC Project Code
    ICN00014
    Presented At
    Presented at the Wellington and Spring Ridge GRDC Grains Research Updates in July 2014 by Brad Donald.

    Take home message
    • The goal of the UAV is to provide another Precision Technology tool to growers in the decision making process to identify better management practices that achieve higher yield and profit outcomes for growers. The UAV is not a silver bullet.
    • Flight times of 30-35mins, with 150-180 ha imaged that can be converted into basic NDVI imagery that requires further interpretation and ground truthing. It is limited by the software, cost, and current imaging techniques.
    • To be used as in combination with other monitoring tools to produce more site specific inputs, lowering input usage and increasing productivity.
    • Technology is still being developed and will continue to grow into the future.

  • Dual purpose crops: economics and their management

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    25.07.2014
    GRDC Project Code
    ICN00014, CSP00160
    Presented At
    Presented at the Warialda GRDC Grains Research Update July 2014 by Lindsay Bell.
    Region
    North

    Take home messages
    • Dual-purpose crops can provide flexibility in sowing time, forage at a key time of the year and in some cases can increase returns from crops.
    • Frequent early sowing opportunities provide potential to use long-season dual-purpose varieties which can provide up to 2000 DSE grazing days/ha in autumn and early winter and achieve similar grain yields to traditional grain-only systems.
    • Typical ‘grain-only’ spring cultivars can be grazed without greatly reducing grain yield – though grazing provided is much less than from early sown dual-purpose varieties.
    • Early sown canola can also be grazed but later sown crops are likely to suffer larger yield penalties unless grazing pressure is reduced.

  • Nitrogen volatisation: Factors affecting how much N is lost and how much is left over time

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    25.07.2014
    GRDC Project Code
    DAN00144
    Presented At
    Presented at the Spring Ridge, Warialda and Burren Junction GRDC Grains Research Updates July 2014 by Graeme Schwenke.
    Region
    North

    Take home messages
    Fertiliser nitrogen may be lost from the soil in several different ways, including; ammonia volatilisation, nitrate leaching and nitrate denitrification. Factors affecting these losses include fertiliser compound, fertiliser form, type of application, timing of application, soil properties, rainfall amount and intensity, and temperature and wind after application.
    Field trials on northwest NSW cracking clay soils (Vertosols) during 2011-2013 showed that surface application of urea led to ammonia volatilisation averaging 11% N loss when applied to fallow soils, and 5% N loss when applied to tillering wheat crops. Compared to urea, losses from ammonium sulfate were less, except when the soil contained >2% calcium carbonate (lime). Nitrogen losses from ammonium sulfate applied to fallow soils averaged >20% where soils contained >10% calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate content did not affect losses from urea or other nitrogen fertilisers trialled.
    A combined statistical analysis of all plots that had <2% calcium carbonate showed that ammonia volatilisation loss was principally affected by; (a) the presence of a crop, (b) fertiliser type, and (c) the average windspeed at ground level. Losses were greater in fallow paddocks than in-crop, and greater under windy conditions. A separate analysis of all urea plots in the study found that N loss was mainly influenced by, (a) the presence of a crop, (b) soil texture (sandier = greater loss), and (c) soil moisture content at spreading (wetter soil = greater loss).
    After the month of volatilisation measurements, most of the non-volatilised applied nitrogen was recovered in the topsoil or plant tissue. The exception was where paddocks had had intense rainfall which likely caused nitrate leaching and denitrification.

  • Summer weed control reduces moisture and nitrogen losses

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    25.07.2014
    GRDC Project Code
    CWF0013
    Presented At
    Presented at the Wellington GRDC Grains Research Update July 2014 by Colin McMaster.
    Region
    North

    Take home message
    • Where weeds were controlled, 58 % of Canola (Hyola® 575CL) grain yield in 2011 was attributed to increased stored moisture and nitrogen retained via clean weed free fallow.
    • Controlling summer weeds increased:
    - Canola grain yield by 830 kg/ha where full weed control was implemented.
    - Plant available water (PAW) at sowing by 86 and 50 mm in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
    - Mineral nitrogen by 69 and 45 kg N/ha in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
    • For every 1 mm of moisture lost through summer weed growth during the fallow period, there was also reduced mineral nitrogen levels of approximately 0.56 kg N/ha.
    • Summer weeds affected soil moisture to a depth of at least 1.2 m.
    • Every dollar invested in controlling summer weeds returned up to $ 7.20 /ha.
    • Where full fallow weed control was implemented, the return on investment (ROI) was up to 720%.

  • Getting nitrogen (N) into the crop efficiently and effectively

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    03.04.2014
    Presented At
    2014 GRDC Grains Research Update for Growers Bridgewater, VIC
    Region
    South, National, North, West

    • Efficiency and effectiveness are different dimensions of nutrient use efficiency (NUE). A system level assessment of NUE can be made using a partial nutrient balance (N removed in grain/N applied) and partial factor productivity (grain produced/N applied). What are your numbers?
    • Early N is generally used more efficiently, but the source, rate, timing and placement of N all affect the efficiency with which the crop can access N.
    • When comparing N sources; rate, timing and placement all interact so that efficiency options vary and no single source is a “silver bullet” to all situations.
    • There would need to be compelling circumstances to justify moving away from top-dressed urea applied to the crop as the season unfolds.

  • Are you happy? Identifying the why in you

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    02.04.2014
    Presented At
    2014 GRDC Farm Business Update for Growers Naracoorte
    Region
    National, South

    Take home messages:
    • Know and play to your strengths;
    • get your thinking right;
    • invest in yourself; and
    • it's all about choices.

  • Effective farming systems - what skills and approaches lead to successful farming systems?

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    02.04.2014
    Presented At
    2014 GRDC Farm Business Update for Growers Clare and Naracoorte
    Region
    North, South, West

    • The evolution of a farming system should be a function of logical business decision making since the majority of farmers will list profit as a key motivator. Many farm business managers adopt an oversimplified approach to this, farming the way they want to farm, chasing silver bullets or blindly following the benchmarking results of the best farmers. This is totally misleading and often results in the evolution of farming systems that are inappropriate for the manager’s resource base.
    • For the large majority of farm businesses, profitability is driven to the greatest extent by the successful implementation and management of the basics and then incorporating new or emerging technologies at the margins. The environment that farms operate in is dynamic which means that any decision needs to take into account how it will interact with the entire system.
    • Farm managers have been shown to consistently and repeatedly get this process wrong, particularly in times of higher prices when they tend to farm how they would like rather than how they should. This leaves these businesses particularly exposed when prices fall, there are seasonal challenges, or costs rise sharply. The primary focus on systems selection should be to marry it with the farm businesses’ resource base in order to optimise profit. Farming lifestyle can only be sustainably maintained after profit is achieved.
    • Adopting a whole of business or “systems” approach to the decision making process is one way of achieving consistently high profitability as the farming system evolves. Even the simplest decisions are set in a complex and leaky environment and can have significant impacts at the business level.

  • Agricultural advisory services - what will they look like in 2020?

    Research Updates

    Grains

    Article Date
    19.03.2014
    Presented At
    2014 GRDC Farm Business Update for Advisers Bendigo
    Region
    National

    • Historically agricultural advisory services have been delivered by government agencies; however this has changed with more than 2,300 private sector crop advisers spread across all states.
    • The changing landscape also includes a shrinking population of crop farm businesses and increased regulation and compliance.
    • Increased use and capacity of technology will impact the future of agricultural advisory services; with 'recipe farming' fast developing oversees.
    • An opportunity for advisers appears to be in adding value to remote sensing technology, computerised decision support tools and variable rate technology by integrating the available data and information into something that is relatively simple, straightforward and usable by farmers.
    • Individual crop advisers can to some degree choose their own future, either adopting new ideas and developing new systems or doing things as they have always done.

  • Robotics and intelligent systems for large scale agriculture

    Research Updates

    two ground robots and one aerial robot for crop surveillance in tree-crop applications

    Article Date
    19.03.2014
    Presented At
    2014 GRDC Farm Business Update for Adviser Bendigo
    Region
    South

    • Significant advances in future farm productivity will be enabled by robotics and autonomous systems.
    • Production advances will be by a step-change in productivity through the use of many small autonomous robots that operate within a whole-farm optimisation context.
    • The key challenge to be addressed in realising the benefits of these new technologies is to 'think beyond the robot' and develop a new logistics and information systems view of farm operations.