Grains Research and Development

Date: 16.07.2013

GRDC addresses need for rapid local RD&E response

Author: GRDC western regional panel chairman Peter Roberts

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is committed to fast-tracked, local research, development and extension (RD&E) projects in Western Australia.

This is in recognition of grower needs for a rapid RD&E response to key tactical or seasonal issues affecting their bottom line – such as frost, weeds and non-wetting soils.

The GRDC has invested almost $600,000 in Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) and Agribusiness Trial Extension Network projects in 2012-13.

While this figure is a small proportion of about $50 million invested annually by the GRDC in the western region, these shorter-term projects are playing a vital role in addressing grower priorities quickly and can lead to further GRDC investment.

The RCSN initiative funds short-term, low cost activities - providing a rapid and targeted response outside the usual GRDC 18-month investment cycle.

Information provided by its five networks – located in each of WA’s port zones – helps the GRDC to ground-truth and set its research priorities accurately, and is considered in its investment cycle.

RCSN-identified priorities have been used by the GRDC to shape its investments, including in the areas of break crop agronomy, frost mitigation, dry seeding, non-wetting soils and business management.  

Feedback from RCSN representatives and the wider industry has indicated that the initial projects conducted have already provided substantial value to growers.

For example, RCSN-supported trials in the Geraldton port zone found that what were considered ‘un-killable’ herbicide resistant wild radish populations could be controlled using robust rates, ‘double knock’ and the right timing.

RCSN projects funded for 2012-13 include:

  • Plant available water (PAW) – information and tools for better crop management decisions for Albany and Esperance RCSN zone consultants and farmers;
  • Extension of amelioration methods to address non-wetting soils in the Albany and Kwinana port zones of WA;
  • Weed mapping and ecology in the central and eastern wheatbelt of WA;
  • Stubble management to reduce the impact of frost to crops in the Albany and Kwinana West port zones of WA;Break crop economics for the Kwinana East (low rainfall) zone of WA;
  • The economics of summer weed spraying and effects on soil water and soil nitrogen for the Kwinana East RCSN zone;
  •  Development of best management practice for wild radish management in cereals in the Geraldton port zone.
More information about RCSNs can be found at www.grdc.com.au/rcsn, or by contacting Sally Thomson on 0417 983 356 (Kwinana west, Kwinana east, Albany and Esperance port zones) or Cameron Weeks on 0427 006 944 (Geraldton port zone).

Agribusiness Trial Extension Network projects are funded for one year to address local RD&E issues. Projects funded under this initiative in 2012-13 include:

  • The West Midlands Group assessing one-way ploughing, scarifying, offset discs, deep ripping and spading for incorporating lime evenly throughout the soil profile as tools to overcome subsoil acidity, water repellence and improve crop productivity on sandplain soils in WA’s northern agricultural region;
  • The Facey Group investigating the effect of stubble retention on canopy temperature and frost damage in wheat;
  • Southern Dirt evaluating management options for rhizoctonia bare patch in barley and wheat in the high rainfall cropping zone of WA;
  • The Holt Rock Group conducting local liming trials;
  • The Kellerberrin Demonstration Group looking at canopy management to reduce risk associated with growing cereals in low to medium rainfall regions in WA.


Region West, National, North, South