More accurate soil classification, better use by crops of available water and weed management are some areas where Western Australian grain growers and industry want fast-tracked research investment.
These agronomic priorities, as well as frost, rotations, pests and business management, were highlighted during recent meetings of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) ‘Regional Cropping Solutions’ (RCS) networks.
The RCS network meetings – in WA’s Kwinana east, Kwinana west, Albany and Esperance port zones - identified issues for potential investment by the GRDC in the current financial year.
The RCS network in the Geraldton port zone will meet in late September.
RCS is part of a renewed effort by the GRDC to reduce the time it takes for new varieties, practices and technologies to be adopted by growers.
RCS facilitator Julianne Hill said better use of available water (water use efficiency) was a key priority for many RCS networks.
“Many networks are interested in investigating soil moisture probe technology so growers have a better idea of how much sub-soil water is available to crops, and subsequently how much nitrogen they should apply,” she said.
“Water use efficiency is a key concern for both growers experiencing wetter conditions and those where less rainfall has been received.”
Ms Hill said the RCS networks’ interest in water use efficiency followed recent investments in the decision-making tool Yield Prophet® to potentially improve crop management.
“The GRDC and research partners including the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and farm consultants are investing in and managing new Yield Prophet® sites in the grainbelt,” she said.
Ms Hill said the latest round of RCS network meetings also identified better soil classification as a priority for additional GRDC investment.
“Growers want better knowledge of their soils, including constraints and water holding capacity, so they can manage them better,” she said.
“Different aspects of weed management were also raised by the networks, including harvest weed seed control; extension of weed management practices by good managers; and the relationship between soil types and weeds.”
GRDC western regional manager Darren Hughes said issues raised at the latest RCS network meetings would help identify small, short-term projects for investment in 2012-13, and bigger projects which would progress through the standard GRDC investment process.
Dr Hughes said RCS network representatives – including growers, agribusiness representatives and researchers – were helping to identify critical research, development and extension (RD&E) gaps restricting the profitability of growers.
“I encourage growers and other industry representatives to contact their local RCS network representatives because the GRDC wants to hear about local agronomic priorities and what’s not being addressed by existing RD&E investments,” he said.
“People who want to become a RCS network representative are encouraged to express their interest and more information about the RCS initiative and networks can be found at www.grdc.com.au/rcsn.
“They can also contact facilitators Julianne Hill on 0447 261 607 and Cameron Weeks (Geraldton port zone) on 0427 006 944.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Albany port zone RCS network representatives and facilitators at their recent meeting in Lake Grace.
Contact: Natalie Lee
Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034; 0427 189 827