GRDC's spring tour mission: to listen
Date: 21 Sep 2012
Northern NSW grain growers took time out from winter crop activities recently to deliver feedback on production opportunities and challenges directly to their research and development decision-makers.
James Clark, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel chair led a delegation of the GRDC northern panel and key GRDC staff, including Sharon O’Keeffe, GRDC regional grower services manager north, based at Boggabri, NSW.
Mr Clark said listening to growers and gaining an on-the-ground perspective made the annual tour a vital part of the GRDC northern panel’s commitments.
“There are many ways GRDC consults with growers and researchers but standing in their crops discussing local constraints to yield and productivity, and priorities for GRDC funding, gives the panel a very clear picture of what needs to be tackled,” he said.
“The investment effort is about identifying and driving production gains.”
Mr Clark said key issues for northern growers included ongoing problem weed and disease management challenges, nutrient management, changes to grain storage and transport infrastructure due to mining, and industry-wide issues including herbicide resistance.
“The winter cereals, canola and pulse crops we’ve seen across northern NSW are looking good but it has been a relatively dry winter with plenty of frost events so many growers will be looking for rain as the crops mature,” Mr Clark said.
“Growers are also gearing up for summer planting of crops including sunflowers and sorghum and while planting rains are needed, good moisture profiles will stand these crops in good stead.”
This year’s spring tour took GRDC panel members on-farm and to research trials and facilities at Bellata, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Quirindi, Tamworth and Armidale.
The panel inspected trials run by Crown Analytical Services, Bellata and Sydney University IA Watson Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri which are part of a major research push to address the cereal disease, crown rot.
“The research puts the current best available varieties performing under crown rot pressure up against newly developed lines produced under GRDC’s investments to measure genetic gains,” Mr Clark said.
“Growers will know by the end of the year what progress has been made by putting these leading research organisations head to head in the battle against crown rot.”
The panel also inspected GRDC’s investment in on-farm National Variety Trials (NVT); Northern Grower Alliance (NGA) crown rot trials; stripe rust and other trials at NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Tamworth Agricultural Institute; winter pulse and other trials at Breeza Research Station; and GRDC-supported programs at the University of New England (UNE), Armidale.
The panel includes GRDC executive manager research programs, Steve Thomas; former grower and Hunter Valley agribusiness operator, James Clark; Toowoomba-based wheat breeder, John Sheppard; Dalby grower, Rob Taylor; Newcastle-based cereal chemist, Jodi McLean; Ayr grower Aaron Sanderson; Tamworth-based district agronomist, Loretta Serafin; former Liverpool Plains grower and company adviser, Keith Harris; Wellington grower William Martel; Felton grower and agronomist, Vicki Green; and Toowoomba-based researcher, Professor Mark Sutherland.
GRDC board members, Jenny Goddard and Rob Lewis; GRDC senior manager discovery Juan Juttner; GRDC senior manager natural resources, Martin Blumenthal; and Ms O’Keeffe also joined the tour.
For more information on GRDC-supported research, visit www.grdc.com.au.
PHOTO CAPTION: GRDC northern panel toured northern NSW talking to growers, researchers and advisers.
PHOTO CAPTION: Steve Thomas, GRDC executive manager research programs; Juan Juttner, GRDC senior manager discovery; and Denis Harvey, Kalyx Australia.
PHOTO CAPTION: Keith Harris, GRDC northern panellist; Rob Lewis, GRDC board member; and Drew Penberthy, Crown Analytical Services.
Media releases and other media products can be found at www.grdc.com.au/Media-News
James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel Chair
0428 545 212
Rachel Bowman, Cox Inall Communications
(07) 3846 4380
0412 290 673