Cropping challenges of most concern to grain growers in the southern cropping region have been brought to the immediate attention of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s new Southern Regional Panel.
Limited productivity on sandy and sodic soils, subsoil constraints, frost, nitrogen management, herbicide resistance and weed seed management, snails, mixed farming, and skills and capacity within the grains industry were issues to the fore when Panel members met with growers and advisers during the Panel’s annual week-long spring tour.
Panel chair Keith Pengilley says discussions with growers on their properties provided Panel members with an intimate understanding of regional cropping issues that must remain the focus of GRDC investments in research, development and extension.
“The Southern Panel exists to represent the voices of grain growers in the southern cropping region, ensuring that the problems they encounter in their farming systems are being addressed through targeted research projects which provide meaningful outcomes for growers,” Mr Pengilley said.
“The annual spring tour is an important exercise in the Panel’s duty to identify research priorities and recommend to the GRDC appropriate measures to address these problems.”
The Panel, which includes six new members, consulted with growers, researchers, farming systems groups, advisers and policy decision makers during this year’s spring tour of South Australia.
“Having met with growers and talked over the issues they have within their farming systems, it is reassuring to know that the constraints prioritised by the Panel and the GRDC are aligned with those of growers,” Mr Pengilley said.
“We saw first-hand the difficulties growers have trying to lift productivity on sandy and sodic soils. We also noted that managing nitrogen is a balancing act for many growers and the unpredictable nature of frosts is another issue front of mind for growers.
“Herbicide-resistant weeds are an increasing problem throughout the southern cropping region – ryegrass, barley grass and brome are especially problematic – and growers are looking for the most effective and sustainable ways to deal with these weeds, with reducing the weed seed bank at harvest a particular focus.
“The GRDC is investing heavily in research programs to address all these problems and more, but it is important that we don’t drop the ball. Maintaining regular contact with growers, through activities such as the spring tour, is therefore critical.”
During the tour, Panel members were updated on numerous research activities being undertaken in SA but with likely outcomes to benefit growers in all parts of the southern cropping region.
Oat breeding advances, improved root disease testing services, new no-till seeding technologies, technologies to improve the productivity of soils, soil and plant testing, harvest technologies for weed management, stubble management, time of sowing, pest and disease control and controlled traffic were among research areas looked at by the Panel.
Mr Pengilley said the tour proved to be a valuable opportunity for members of the new Panel to work closely together in recognising cropping issues which, in many instances, differ from those in their own regions.
“We will continue to discuss these issues and act as a conduit between growers and the GRDC in making sure that research programs are on track to deliver the best possible solutions for growers.”
The new Panel comprises: Tasmania – Keith Pengilley (chair), Conara; Victoria – Rob Sonogan, Swan Hill; John Bennett, Lawloit; Jon Midwood, Inverleigh; Rohan Mott, Ninda; Kate Wilson, Hopetoun; SA – Bill Long, Ardrossan; Mark Stanley, Port Lincoln; Peter Kuhlmann, Mudamuckla; Michael McLaughlin, Adelaide; ACT – Tanya Howitt, GRDC Executive Manager, Corporate Services.
Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
Caption: The GRDC Southern Regional Panel visited the Hart Field Day in SA’s Mid North during its annual spring tour. Pictured at the field day are (front row from left) Jon Midwood, Inverleigh, Victoria; John Bennett, Lawloit, Victoria; Peter Kuhlmann, Mudamuckla, SA; Rohan Mott, Ninda, Victoria; GRDC Corporate Services executive manager and Panel member Tanya Howitt, Canberra (ACT); Kate Wilson, Hopetoun, Victoria; and Panel chair Keith Pengilley, Conara, Tasmania. Back row: Panel member Rob Sonogan, Swan Hill, Victoria; GRDC general manager systems and agronomy south, Stephen Loss, Canberra, ACT; and Panel members Mark Stanley, Port Lincoln, SA; Bill Long, Ardrossan, SA; and Michael McLaughlin, Adelaide, SA.