By GRDC Northern Region Panellist Loretta Serafin
Significant research efforts into improving cereal yields in the northern grains industry promise to deliver long term productivity and profitability improvements to growers.
CSIRO data suggests that northern growers could produce an additional 1.19 tonnes/hectare in wheat yield using better adapted varieties and best practice management, potentially adding thousands of dollars to an operation’s bottom line.
It is a similar story for sorghum, with increases in average yield possible through improvements in farming systems and the management of soil moisture.
The potential to close this yield gap relies on a number of factors including local soil and environmental constraints, growers’ capacity to invest in inputs and their risk preferences.
A three-year Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded project is currently underway to assist grain growers and advisors with agronomic decision making to achieve higher sorghum and wheat yields.
The project aims to quantify the yield gap for sorghum in the summer and wheat in the winter and determine the contribution and interaction of agronomic drivers of this gap for a given year and site with trials being conducted at key sites on the Liverpool Plains and Trangie in the central west.
The trials are focused on determining the contribution that several key agronomic practices make towards final grain yield, such as sowing on time, row spacing, seeding rates, nutrition, and hybrid selection.
The nature of this season’s storm rainfall has seen a number of growers weighing up their summer cropping options and asking the question `how late is too late’?
Not surprisingly risk is a key factor in their decision making process given the financial toll it can take on a crop’s gross margin and a business’ bottom line.
Growers are keen to know what impact a late plant and late harvest will have on yield potential, disease and frost risk and the rotation/farming system going forward.
The High Yielding Cereal Agronomy project is a good example of research that’s at the forefront of improving the productivity and profitability of growers. Our aim is to quantify the agronomic risk of various cereal crop management strategies so growers’ own risk management can be informed and effective.
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
GRDC Project Code