By GRDC Northern Region Panellist Keith Harris
Central Queensland growers demonstrated how quickly and effectively they can adapt to agronomy and production challenges during the recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel tour.
Many of the growers we met with and visited are combatting difficult production issues such as herbicide resistance in feathertop Rhodes (FTR) and fleabane, suitable rotational cropping options and soil fertility decline by implementing industry-leading best management practices and utilising new, better adapted crop varieties.
The differences in sentiment and approach are marked compared to the northern panel’s last visit to Central Queensland in September 2011 and the efforts of growers and consultants should be applauded.
Their success has been underpinned by significant research and development investment by the GRDC and its research partners in initiatives such as the GRDC 5 year project More Profit from Crop Nutrition part 2 (MPCN II), nutrient trials, Pulse Agronomy Project, GRDC National Variety Trials, pulse breeding programs and pulse agronomy projects.
One of the most impressive aspects of the visit was the adoption of better crop rotation, with a significant increase in the use of chickpeas and mungbeans.
Crop rotations previously concentrated on the use of crops such as sunflowers, chickpeas, barley, durum and mungbeans however crop diseases and poorly adapted varieties coupled with difficult to control weeds had a detrimental impact on the sustainable use of rotational farming practices.
Numerous growers expressed their appreciation of the GRDC-funded research into new pulse crop varieties and particularly the endeavours of Col Douglas from the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Dr Kristy Hobson from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tamworth in developing pulse varieties better suited to the Central Queensland environment.
The group also inspected a number of nutrient trials designed to look at the interaction between the various nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulphur (S) and zinc. These trials will evaluate application strategies in response to particular soil limitation of P, K and S in different parts of the soil profile, including product rates and formulations taking into account crop rotations.
Looking to the future, the region stands to benefit from the recent announcement by DAFF and GRDC of six new research and support positions for Central Queensland which will boost the industry’s capacity to make further gains in farming systems production through better servicing growers with agronomy, research and extension.
The GRDC remains committed to directing investment into projects that directly support the grains industry in Central Queensland and thanks growers and industry representatives for their hospitality, time and feedback during the recent tour.
Some of the feedback included the need for planting of NVT-type trials to mimic regionally common grower practices where possible as well as grower demand for sound recommendations on pulse crop agronomy including seeding rates, row spacing, sowing times, planting depths, weed control, nutrition, appropriate plant back intervals and desiccation options.
Caption: Keith Harris, GRDC Northern Region panellist, Quirindi.
Keith Harris, GRDC Northern Region panellist, Quirindi
0428 157 754
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859