Farming systems groups across the southern cropping region are laying the foundations for a suite of local development and extension projects under the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s major new initiative to address challenges associated with stubble retention.
The Maintaining Profitable Farming Systems with Retained Stubble initiative involves farming systems groups in Victoria, South Australia and southern and central New South Wales collaborating with research organisations and agribusiness over the next five years.
They will be closely looking at stubble retention issues encountered by southern region growers, including pests, diseases, weeds, nutrition and the physical aspects of sowing and establishing crops in heavy residues.
GRDC Southern Regional Grower Services Manager, Andrew Rice, says retained stubble farming systems underpin cropping profitability and sustainability, but not all growers in the southern region maintain crop residues from one season to the next.
Mr Rice said that in wetter years, especially, maintaining stubbles posed immediate challenges for growers who often elected to remove stubbles to avoid issues with the next season’s cropping program, compromising the long-term resilience and profitability of their farming system.
“It is important for growers to have the confidence to hold on to their stubbles year after year, so at the end of this initiative we want to be able to provide them with a package of information and resources based on local trials that will enable them to establish a permanent retained stubble system that is consistent in its performance,” Mr Rice said.
The GRDC, on behalf of growers and the Australian Government, is investing $17.5 million in the initiative that has been instigated by the GRDC Southern Regional Panel and the four Regional Cropping Solutions Networks that support the panel.
The initiative aims to identify the impediments to stubble retention, quantify the effects that these issues are having on yield and profitability, develop practical solutions and then extend the results to grain growers and advisers.
The groups and organisations involved are Birchip Cropping Group Inc (BCG), on behalf of BCG, Southern Farming Systems, Victorian No Till Farming Association and Irrigated Cropping Council; Mallee Sustainable Farming Systems Inc; Riverine Plains Inc; Central West Farming Systems; Farmlink Research Limited (as sub contractor to CSIRO); Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation; Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association; MacKillop Farm Management Group; Upper North Farming Systems; and Yeruga Crop Research, on behalf of the Mid North High Rainfall Farming Systems Group and the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group.
Research support is being provided by CSIRO, and SA Research and Development Institute’s Naomi Scholz has been appointed to assist with co-ordination and communication.
Earlier this year, a project team comprising NSW Department of Primary Industries and Graham Centre (Wagga Wagga) personnel began a review and evaluation of the current knowledge and extension materials for stubble retention in cropping systems in south eastern Australia.
This work has helped to guide the development of the broader stubble retention investments by identifying gaps in research, development and extension.
Farming systems groups involved in the initiative have been briefed by some of the nation’s leading authorities on pests, weeds, diseases and crop nutrition to help them design and manage their trials, which will be set up in preparation for season 2014.
Andrew Rice, GRDC
02 6866 1245
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
Caption: Attending a stubble initiative workshop in Adelaide are CSIRO scientist Clive Kirkby (left), Canberra (ACT); GRDC Southern Regional Grower Services Manager Andrew Rice, Parkes (NSW); SA Research and Development Institute entomologist Michael Nash, Adelaide (SA); and Southern Farming Systems agronomist Ed Hilsdon, Inverleigh (Victoria).
GRDC Project Code
BWD00024, CWF00018, EPF00001, CSP00174, LEA00002, MFM00006, MFS00003, RPI00009, UNF00002, YCR00003, DAN00170
South, North, West