A smorgasbord of options was available at the Agribusiness Crop Updates held in Perth on February 13 and 14 at the Burswood Convention Centre.
On offer were six plenary sessions, 48 presentations and six research highlights.
An annual event, the GRDC and DAFWA-supported Updates are the outcome of considerable input and commitment on the part of those who organise, contribute and attend to make this an effective forum for sharing current research and topical issues.
In his opening address, WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Kim Chance said that today’s global market provided new demands, opportunities and expectations.
It was important for the grains industry to be fully focused on the consumer and fully integrated into the food and fibre chain, he said.
He also praised Australian researchers for their ongoing enthusiasm and commitment to innovation, commenting that they were “remarkable and unique.”
Key areas for discussion were farming systems, in particular soil management, climate change, pest and weed control, cereals, pulses and oilseeds and novel developments in end grain use.
Soil health was well covered, with presentations on soil limitations affecting the profitability of applying clay on non-wetting sandplain soils; applications and limitations of soil testing kits and ion-selective electrodes for analysing plant available nutrients in WA soils; soil pH and the profitability of liming.
WA growers contend with a complex set of soil issues to and many of the soil presentations emerged from the GRDC-funded initiative, Managing Hostile Subsoils in WA.
There were several presentations themed around climate change.
GRDC consultant, Alan Umbers, spoke on soil carbon in cropping soils, saying that although emissions outweigh sequestration in most cropping programs, many current practices will maximise sequestration and minimise emissions.
Dr Louise Barton, GRDC-supported researcher from the School of Earth and Geographical Sciences at the University of Western Australia, addressed the global warming potential of wheat production in WA.
Her work analysing soil nitrous oxide emissions demonstrates the need to use regionally specific data when assessing and developing strategies to minimise greenhouse gases (GHG) from agricultural production systems.
A presentation by Dr John de Majnik, GRDC Manager, New Grain Products, focused on the need to capture more value for growers by innovating up and down the value chain.
He highlighted, for example, current research investigating biofactories to harvest spherical nanoparticles from alfalfa leaves.
Nanoparticles are extremely valuable and useful in medicine, microsurgery, imaging and engineering.
Dr John de Majnik, GRDC Manager, New Grain Products, opens day two of the 2008 GRDC and DAFWA supported Agribusiness Crop Updates.