Regional cropping issues reinforced during Panel tour

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 26 Sep 2014

Southern panel members on tour

Cropping constraints and grains industry issues of most concern to growers in South Australia, Victoria and southern and central west New South Wales have been reinforced during the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Panel’s annual spring tour.

The spread of herbicide resistant weeds, crop nutrition knowledge gaps, the impact of recent frosts and beet western yellows virus, as well as the need to attract and retain the next generation of growers, advisers and researchers, were key topics raised with Panel members during their tour of parts of the southern cropping region.

The annual week-long spring tour involved meetings with researchers, farming systems groups, advisers, growers and policy decision makers, and observations and discussions will now play a role in informing future GRDC research, development and extension (RD&E) priorities.

While Panel members engage with industry throughout the year, Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says the Panel tour is an important undertaking in terms of engagement, building knowledge and appreciation of what is occurring in local cropping areas.

“The tour is another activity that enables the Panel to meet face-to-face with growers, advisers and researchers, and these open discussions lead to a better understanding of the issues impacting on the profitability of growers.

“This year’s tour will again contribute to determining immediate and future research activities,” Mr Pengilley said.

Two separate tours were conducted this year; one through upper parts of the southern cropping region and the other through geographically lower areas.

The north tour began at Trangie and took in Tullamore, Condobolin, Kiacatoo, Ungarie, West Wyalong, Temora and Wagga Wagga (all in NSW). Panel members on the north tour then travelled to Swan Hill, Ouyen and Mildura in Victoria before venturing further west to Loxton in South Australia.

The south tour began on SA’s Yorke Peninsula and included visits to sites at Paskeville, Petersville, Sandilands and Warooka. Hoyleton, Balaklava and Freeling in the Mid and Lower North areas of SA were on the agenda, along with Coomandook, Naracoorte and Bool Lagoon in the South-East.

Victorian research and production sites visited by the Panel during the south tour included those at Werribee, Altona and Bundoora.

Mr Pengilley said this year’s tour was largely focused on two significant constraints in the GRDC Southern Region – herbicide resistance and soil and crop nutrition management.  While the issues impact all grains regions, there are some unique needs within southern farming systems.

“Growers are increasingly concerned about herbicide resistance in weeds such as ryegrass, wild radish, brome and barley grasses so we need to ensure that GRDC-funded RD&E continues to address this ever-growing problem.

“How we manage nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in our farming systems is another key focus for the Panel and the Regional Cropping Solutions Networks which support the Panel, as well as the GRDC and the southern cropping industry more broadly.”

Mr Pengilley said future expertise in the grains industry was a common topic of conversation during meetings with stakeholders.

“Ensuring we have the right skills and capacity in the industry going forward is critical. Where is the next generation of growers going to come from and what skills do they need, and how are we going to ensure we have enough agronomists and researchers – these are the questions being asked.

“So the issues in the southern cropping region are large and varied, and are not just confined to what is happening in-paddock right now."

Mr Pengilley said not only did the tour provide Panel members with an enhanced appreciation of the issues confronting growers, but it also enabled them to validate current GRDC-funded research to ensure it was going to deliver practical outcomes for growers.

At the conclusion of both tours, Panel members came together to discuss their observations and findings which also included:

  • Frost damage has been widespread throughout the southern cropping region and the extent could be underestimated by growers
  • Moisture stress from lack of rain in some parts is further constraining crop growth
  • Insecticide resistance in green peach aphids (which transmit beet western yellows virus) is a major concern
  • New insights into the behaviour of snails could help growers in adopting more effective management strategies.

To view a video interview with Panel chair Keith Pengilley about the Panel tour, go to


For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel

Phone 0448 015539


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli

Phone 0409 675100

Region South, North