Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Managing Director John Harvey is in Western Australia this week speaking with growers at a series of ‘shed visits’ in the eastern and central grainbelt.
GRDC Western Regional Panel Chairman Peter Roberts and Grower Services Manager Darren Hughes are also participating in the meetings as part of an ongoing commitment by the GRDC to engage with growers and hear about the issues affecting their profitability.
“I am always looking for opportunities to talk with growers and hear, first-hand, about the research priorities they believe will deliver the greatest benefits on farm," said Mr Harvey.
"The idea of the shed visits is to engage smaller groups in local areas, making it as easy as possible for growers to attend and reducing the burden on their time.
"Shed visits also allow me to get a feel for the local impact of particular issues and how needs might differ between different grain growing areas," he said.
"I think this level of engagement is essential, as part of a much wider grower engagement process, that helps us make the right decisions, on behalf of growers, about where to invest their research, development and extension (RD&E) funding in the future.
“It's good for me to hear what growers have to say and, of course, I’m also happy to answer questions about the GRDC’s $160 million RD&E portfolio and the more than 900 projects currently underway."
Mr Harvey said it was approaching two years since GRDC conducted the last 'shed visit' series in these regions of Western Australia.
"I know many parts of the grainbelt we will visit this week have been hard hit by adverse, dry seasons in recent years.
“For these growers in particular, research and development outcomes are vital, with new technology, tools and information providing the capacity to maintain a level of farm viability in difficult times,” he said.
Mr Harvey said the GRDC had a range of projects underway to address production issues relating to variable seasonal conditions, such as its investments in water use efficiency (WUE) research projects and pre-breeding to improve crop yields.
“WA growers are already adopting techniques from research programs to keep their farms productive, even when rainfall is scarce,” he said.
“They are implementing measures such as dry sowing a significant proportion of their programs to try to make sure that every drop of rainfall is available to be stored in the soil for use by the crop.
“Summer weed control has also become a crucial tool in growers’ efforts to conserve moisture.
"Research is the key to finding new management tools that make the most of limited resources, new tools that lead to yield gains and information and methods that will reduce ever increasing input costs," said Mr Harvey.
He said the GRDC had recently committed to increase its investment in frost and non-wetting soils as two key issues affecting Western Australian growers and had just launched a series of crop rotation and crop improvement projects in partnership with the state department in order to deliver the improvements growers need.
Districts visited by Mr Harvey, Mr Roberts and Dr Hughes this week will include Hyden, Bencubbin, Wongan Hills, Merredin and Cadoux.
Mr Harvey plans to take part in additional ‘shed visits’ in WA following harvest.
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