Growers rate grains R&D "critical" for on-farm success

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 30 Nov 2012

wheat growing in a paddock with blue sky in the background

The importance of research and development in ensuring the viability and sustainability of Australia’s grains industry has been underlined in a survey of the nation’s growers.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation-commissioned Grower Survey has revealed that R&D is regarded by the vast majority (89 per cent) of respondents as “critical” for the success of their farm business.

Conducted in July and August this year, the survey of growers across the nation has also revealed that since 2010 – when the previous survey was undertaken – there has been a significant rise in the proportion of respondents believing they have directly benefited from grains R&D activities over the past five years (76% compared to 67%). The proportion of respondents believing GRDC had a role in those benefits has also risen.

GRDC Strategic Planning and Reporting manager, Zoltan Lukacs, says these results are an encouraging indicator that GRDC investment in research, development and extension is making an impact on-farm.

“On behalf of growers and the Australian Government, the GRDC each year invests around $140 million in RD&E to promote innovation, productivity and profitability in the grains sector. It is therefore very important that we canvas growers about the effectiveness of GRDC-funded initiatives, activities and information,” Mr Lukacs said.

“The biennial survey provides 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, as well as some key insights into the farming systems profile of grain producers and their confidence in the industry’s future.”

Of the 1203 growers surveyed, 78% of respondents believed R&D projects being undertaken in the grains industry are addressing threats to long-term sustainability fairly well to very well. This figure is 8 points higher than in 2010.

The proportion of respondents currently undertaking activities to ensure longer term sustainability of their farm has increased significantly to 92% (89% in 2010). Just under half of all respondents say these actions are a result of GRDC activities or projects, a significant 6 points higher than in 2010.

Mr Lukacs said confidence in crop protection continues to be high, with 84% of all respondents now saying they are better equipped than five years ago to deal with issues relating to weeds, 82% are more confident dealing with diseases and a similar proportion is more confident to cope with pests. This latter result is a significant 12 points higher than that of 2010.

The survey also reveals that since 2010, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of growers adopting Integrated Pest Management (up 16 points to 56%), Integrated Weed Management (up 19 points to 76%) and/or Integrated Disease Management (up 16 points to 61%).

Action is currently being taken to delay herbicide resistance by 91% of respondents and a further 4% have plans to do so.

In other findings:

  • Respondents are significantly more likely to believe they are ‘innovative growers’ compared to 2010 (72% versus 66%) and to place high importance on using decision support tools for running their farming enterprise.
  • Compared with the 2010 results, a significantly higher proportion of respondents have confidence in the industry’s ability to respond quickly to crop protection threats (65% compared to 58%).
  • Awareness of the GRDC-funded National Variety Trials continues to grow and has become significantly more widespread over the past two years.
  • New winter cereal varieties have been grown over the past five years by 89% of all respondents, while over the past two years they have been grown by 80%. Approximately half of all respondents credit GRDC activities and projects for taking up new varieties (up 11 points from 2010).
  • Compared to 2010, a much higher proportion of respondents have grown pulses (both new and old varieties) during the previous five years (61% compared to 30%). The proportion growing both new and old varieties of oilseeds has also increased (up 26 points to 60%). Almost half the respondents growing new varieties of pulses and oilseeds say this is due to GRDC activities and projects.
  • In states where GM canola is available, it is currently being grown by 12% of respondents and a further 12% say they will either definitely or probably grow it at some stage. In SA where GM canola cannot be grown, 30% believe they would definitely or probably grow it if they were able.

In terms of growers’ confidence in the grains industry, when asked to rate the extent to which they agree with the statement “I am optimistic about the future of the grains industry”, 86% of respondents gave a score of 5 or higher (out of 10), resulting in a mean rating score of 6.33. This is higher than 2010 when it was 5.67.

Caption: The GRDC survey has revealed there has been a significant rise in the proportion of growers believing they have directly benefited from grains R&D.

For interviews:

Zoltan Lukacs
02 6166 4500


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675 100

Region National