Riverina grain growers will be confronted by challenges old and new in 2014, and local Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Panel member Chris Blanchard wants to ensure the region’s cropping issues are being addressed.
Dr Blanchard, a researcher and teacher at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga and Director of the Functional Grains Centre based there, is deputy chair of the GRDC Southern Regional Panel, which identifies cropping constraints and opportunities and directs research priorities to benefit grain growers.
Now in his seventh year on the panel, he said he wanted to continue to address known issues hampering productivity and profitability in the area, as well as shedding light on emerging problems.
“I have had a real passion for grains research for most of my life and for me this involvement with the GRDC panel was really an opportunity for me to have some input into the direction of research in Australia,” Dr Blanchard said.
“I’ve got a particular interest in grain quality because that’s the area I mostly work in. I’m also passionate about the general use of pulses in crop sequences, because around our area, there is a lack of pulses and that’s a real concern for me. Without a pulse in a farming system, it’s difficult to have a really sustainable system.”
With a PhD in molecular biology and an honours degree in applied science, Dr Blanchard typically looks at how grain quality affects end products for consumers, and his research ranges from identifying antioxidant properties in faba beans to the suitability of Australian-grown chickpeas for overseas markets.
While growing grains suited to domestic and overseas markets is highly important for profitable grain growing, Dr Blanchard wants to ensure farmers are maintaining sustainable cropping systems that will be viable in the long-term.
He said Riverina growers could look forward to reaping the benefits of having more pulse crops in their sequences in future, as GRDC-funded research aims to produce resilient and profitable pulse varieties.
“GRDC is working on improving the profitably of growing pulses, so it’s investing in an understanding of how to improve the value of pulses. It’s investing in ways to improve some of the disease problems and yield constraints and making more profitable crops so farmers will be more able to include them in their rotations.”
As part of his role in identifying potential issues for GRDC attention, Riverina grain growers are encouraged to contact Dr Blanchard directly if they would like to discuss any cropping issues that should be brought to the GRDC’s attention.
Grain growers wanting to raise an issue with Dr Blanchard can contact him on 0438 662 992, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see a video interview with Dr Blanchard, visit http://youtu.be/GKgv-KmmvPk.
Chris Blanchard, GRDC Southern Panel
0438 662 992
Tristan Price, Porter Novelli
03 9289 9555
Caption: GRDC Southern Regional Panel deputy chair Chris Blanchard wants to shed more light on challenges faced by grain growers in the Riverina. Photo: Paul Jones, Coretext