Western Australian grain growers regard research and development (R&D) as vitally important in ensuring the viability and sustainability of the grains industry, a survey has revealed.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)-commissioned Grower Survey revealed that R&D was regarded by the vast majority (89 per cent) of WA respondents as ‘critical’ for the success of their farm business.
Conducted in July and August 2012, the biennial survey of growers across the nation also revealed that 68 per cent of WA respondents believed they had directly benefited from grains R&D activities over the past five years, with most (57 per cent) believing the GRDC had a role in those benefits.
GRDC western grower services manager Darren Hughes said the results were an encouraging indicator that GRDC investment in research, development and extension (RD&E) was making an impact on-farm.
“On behalf of growers and the Australian Government, the GRDC each year invests about $150 million in RD&E to promote innovation, productivity and profitability in the grains sector,” he said.
“It is therefore very important that we canvas growers about the effectiveness of GRDC-funded initiatives, activities and information.
“The survey provides the GRDC with a good handle on what’s working well in terms of industry RD&E and its uptake by growers, and where room exists for improvement.
“It also provides some key insights into the farming systems used by grain producers and their confidence in the industry’s future.”
Dr Hughes said the proportion of WA respondents undertaking activities to ensure the longer-term sustainability of their farms had increased significantly to 91 per cent, from 86 per cent in 2010.
“However, the percentage of WA growers saying they had changed farming practices over the past five years fell by nine points since 2010 (down to 66 per cent), which is the lowest figure nationally,” he said.
Dr Hughes said the survey revealed that since 2010 – when the last survey was conducted - there had been a significant rise in grower awareness in WA of the GRDC western region regional panel (78 per cent compared with 67 per cent).
“There has also been a notable increase in the number of WA respondents having contact with the panel (36 per cent compared with 25 per cent),” he said.
“This reflects a concerted effort by the western panel to get out into the grainbelt to see more growers, more often, to discuss their production issues and to help ensure research is relevant at a local level.”
Dr Hughes said other results from the survey included western respondents having the biggest average farm size and area sown to crops, compared with other GRDC regions.
WA growers were significantly more likely to believe they were ‘innovative growers’ since the previous survey (76 per cent compared with 66 per cent).
“In addition, awareness and use of information from GRDC-funded National Variety Trials (NVT) continues to grow in WA, with information provided through the NVT program assisting 90 per cent of those accessing it to decide on varieties,” he said.
In other WA findings:
- The vast majority (93 per cent) of respondents have grown new winter cereal varieties over the past five years, while 87 per cent have grown new varieties in the past two years;
- In the past two years 44 per cent have grown new pulse varieties;
- In the past two years 45 per cent have grown new oilseed (canola) varieties.
Additional GRDC Grower Survey results are available at www.grdc.com.au/Grower-Survey-Results
PHOTO CAPTION: GRDC western grower services manager Darren Hughes.
Darren Hughes, GRDC western grower services manager
0409 249 420
Zoltan Lukacs, GRDC strategic planning and reporting manager
02 6166 4500
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827