The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has vowed to “boost engagement” with northern region grain growers to help drive further productivity growth and address profitability concerns.
Speaking with Southern Queensland growers at a series of shed meetings on the Darling Downs last week, GRDC chairman Richard Clark said industry profitability continued to be a major focus for GRDC-supported research and development (R&D) and that more targeted communication would boost the awareness and accessibility of R&D information to growers.
“The GRDC has a massive bank of information collated from its 20 year involvement in R&D work as well as comprehensive information and outcomes from more recent trial work,” Mr Clark said.
“It’s critically important for the GRDC to ensure that R&D information is readily accessible to all growers and is presented in a format that is meaningful, practical and useful. An example of this is the northern region GrowNotes.
“To achieve that, we need to further our understanding of what motivates northern growers to seek agronomic information, how they would like that information presented and their capacity to embrace practice change.
“But the communication needs to be a two-way street – we need growers to engage with the GRDC just as the GRDC needs to engage with growers. Growers set GRDC’s investment priorities.”
The meetings were convened as part of a GRDC board tour to southern Queensland to consult with local growers and grower groups on investment priorities, regional production opportunities and challenges, and feedback on current GRDC initiatives.
It was the newly-appointed board’s first trip to Queensland and the group included managing director John Harvey, new directors Dr Andrew Barr (SA), Dr Helen Garnett (NT), Roseanne Healy (SA) and David Shannon (SA) as well as reappointed director John Woods (NSW).
Growers at the meetings delivered a resounding message over the importance of future grains research in the northern region, saying it needed to be well resourced, targeted and communicated to help combat rising costs and secure the industry’s long term viability.
While targeted R&D has underpinned substantial growth in crop productivity and farm management advances over the past 20 years, Mr Clark said enormous scope still existed to improve profitability in the northern region through better use of resources.
“Water use efficiency (WUE) for instance is a major target for the north with a majority of growers averaging only 40%-50% of the achievable yield after water limitations and environmental conditions have been taken into account,” Mr Clark said.
“Our research is showing that the single greatest impact on WUE is timing of management practices in areas like sowing, weed control, fertiliser application, pest and disease management.
“This suggests that there is a massive opportunity to impact productivity and therefore profitability through improved management in the north and the GRDC is firmly committed to investing in projects that can help achieve this goal.”
Kylie Dunstan, GRDC Communication Manager
02 6166 4500; 0428 864934
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications