Grains Research and Development

Date: 09.08.2016

Growers reveal benefits of customised frost approach

Author: Natalie Lee

Novel and successful frost management techniques used by growers are outlined in a new booklet released by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Managing Frost Risk – Case studies of growers in Western Australia features six growers who are adopting tactics to reduce the risks posed to their businesses by frost.

GRDC Western Regional Panel chairman Peter Roberts.

Peter Roberts, chairman of the GRDC Western Regional Panel and National Frost Initiative (NFI) steering committee, says a new case study booklet outlines novel and successful frost management techniques used by growers.

Peter Roberts, chairman of the GRDC Western Regional Panel and National Frost Initiative (NFI) steering committee, said the resource was an initiative of the GRDC Kwinana East Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) which had identified frost risk management as a high priority for research, development and extension (RD&E) in the region.

“Growers in this port zone (and other parts of the WA grainbelt) are facing increased risk of grain losses from more severe, frequent, prolonged and/or unseasonal frost events,” he said.

“This is due to variable climatic, environmental, agronomic and market conditions and a widening of the frost event window in late winter and spring.”

Mr Roberts said that in some cases frost was costing the case study growers average yield losses of 10-20 per cent annually across their total cropping programs in a 10-year period.

“But the tactics they are adopting illustrate what can be possible when a customised, individual approach is taken to making decisions and using an integrated plan to address frost issues pre-season, in-crop and post-frost event,” he said.

Mr Roberts said their frost risk plans tended to start with an assessment of their approach to business risk and close consideration of their property’s exposure to frost risk.

Lauren and Craig Hinck, left with daughter Emily, and Trevor and Sharon Hinck.

Lauren and Craig Hinck, left with daughter Emily, and Trevor and Sharon Hinck have an integrated plan for managing frost events that are becoming more frequent. They are among the growers featured in Managing Frost Risk – Case studies of growers in Western Australia. Photo courtesy of Sharon Hinck.

“Several growers are identifying and compiling zones and/or maps that identify the range of frost susceptibility of paddocks,” he said.

“This enables them to adopt diverse or alternative agronomic practices or enterprises to spread production and financial risk.

“For the future, the growers say they are keen for the GRDC to continue funding genetics research into the development of more frost-tolerant wheat and barley germplasm and ranking current wheat and barley varieties for susceptibility to frost.”

Mr Roberts said that since 1999 the GRDC had invested more than $13.5 million nationally into 60 frost-related RD&E projects.

“From 2014, these projects came under the umbrella of the GRDC’s multi-disciplinary NFI, which is a five-year project tackling frost from several angles to deliver growers a combination of genetic, management and environmental solutions to help mitigate risk,” he said.

“It is also exploring tools and tactics to help the grains industry better plan for, predict and respond to frost events.

“Through the NFI, frost susceptibility rankings have now been made available for most commercial wheat varieties used in WA, to help growers compare varieties when planning frost risk management strategies.”

Managing Frost Risk – Case studies of growers in Western Australia is available via this link.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Peter Roberts, GRDC
0428 389 060
kpeterroberts@gmail.com

Contact

Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
nataliel@coxinall.com.au

GRDC Project Code CIC00027

Region West