Grains research plan to target barriers to increased productivity

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 23 Oct 2013

Keith Pengilley

Barriers to increased productivity for grain growers in the southern cropping region are set to be addressed through a suite of new projects to be funded through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Through its 2014-15 External Investment Plan, the GRDC is seeking research partners to undertake a range of programs aimed at providing growers with the technologies and practices they require to remain competitive in global grain markets.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley said proposed projects were designed to address some of the issues that were hampering growers in their efforts to boost productivity, cut input costs and lift margins.

“Frost, crop nutrition, management of pests, weeds and diseases, break crops, chemical usage and subsoil constraints – these are among the many issues that will be subject to further research and development,” Mr Pengilley said.

“Some of the projects listed in the investment plan are specific to the southern cropping region, while others are more broad but will also have relevance and application to southern cropping systems.”

Mr Pengilley said the areas being targeted for research attention in the External Investment Plan had been identified as priorities through an extensive consultation process in which the Southern Regional Panel played an important role.

“The panel has consulted extensively with growers and researchers through our Regional Cropping Solutions Network and other linkage and farming systems groups. Regional visits, panel tours and reviews of research activities and outcomes have also helped us to identify gaps in research and development.”

Mr Pengilley said the projects being put up for funding through the 2014-15 External Investment Plan would extend and complement the GRDC’s previous and existing investments in R&D.

Projects specific to the southern cropping region (southern and central New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) include:

  • Nitrogen fixing break crops (including pastures) for the high rainfall zone of the southern region. Investment is required to provide growers and advisers with information that enables them to understand how current pulse crop varieties perform under local environments, how their use can provide rotational benefits and how to maximise these benefits in the farming system.
  • Southern irrigated cereal and canola varieties achieving target yields. The project is designed to provide growers with greater access to reliable varietal data that offers confidence with regard to selection for high yielding cereal and canola varieties under an irrigated environment.
  • Grain and Graze 3 – Extension and delivery on mixed farm benefits in the southern region.  With up to 70 per cent of grain farms in Australia also carrying livestock, the GRDC will invest in a development and extension program to highlight the key messages in relation to mixed farm enterprises to help growers manage a flexible farming system.
  • Farming systems to improve crop tolerance to frost. This project, for the southern and western cropping regions, will look at development of accurate information regarding which farming practices can be cost effectively applied to reduce the financial impact of frost events in wheat crops within different production regions and under varying levels of frost severity.

National projects which will have relevance to the southern cropping region include:

  • Eliminating grain defects in chickpeas
  • Increasing market value of canola through improved quality traits
  • Reduced herbicide usage through application technology
  • Commercialising equipment to enable deep placement of organic substrates to overcome subsoil constraints
  • Soil under an irrigated environment
  • Understanding and management of subsoil constraints
  • Understanding biological farming inputs
  • Application of controlled traffic in the low rainfall zone
  • Minimising the impact of soil compaction on crop yield
  • Push notifications (alerts) to enable proactive management of pests, weed and diseases.

The overall External Investment Plan, which builds on the GRDC Strategic R&D Plan 2012-17, addresses climate change, productivity growth, supply chain and markets, natural resource management, biosecurity, innovative skills and technology development and adoption so as to increase farm profitability and sustainability.

Tenders close at 2pm (AEST) on Tuesday, October 29, 2013. More information about the Investment Plan is available via


Caption: GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says the 2014-15 External Investment Plan addresses issues that are hampering growers in their efforts to boost productivity, cut input costs and lift margins.

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel chair
0448 015539


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Region South, North, West