Pre-season 2021: SA grains industry in good shape for year ahead

Date: 19 Feb 2021

image of Anthony Williams
The state of play within the grains industry was discussed at the Adelaide Grains Research Update by GRDC Managing Director Anthony Williams (left); Chief Executive of the recently established Grains Australia Ltd, Jonathan Wilson; and Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre Chairman Ron Storey. Photo: GRDC

South Australia’s grains industry is primed for the 2021 cropping season, armed with the latest research findings, new knowledge and advice.

Information to support the State’s growers through this year and into the future has been delivered at recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Updates.

More than 350 growers, advisers, researchers and industry personnel attended the GRDC’s Adelaide Grains Research Update, the State’s premier grains research, development and extension (RD&E) forum, which also attracted 300 registrations for the online live stream service. A regional Grains Research Update at Crystal Brook was attended by about 90 growers and advisers.

GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Tom Blake, says the in-person events were well received, enabling attendees to come together to review 2020 and look ahead to the coming season.

“After the limitations of face-to-face events last year imposed by the pandemic, it was refreshing for industry personnel to network and speak with the researchers, and provide direct feedback to the GRDC about our investment agenda,” Mr Blake said.

The Adelaide Update opened with a panel discussion about the state of play within the grains industry and the opportunities for growth through innovation and differentiation.

The panel comprised new GRDC Managing Director Anthony Williams; Chief Executive of the recently established Grains Australia Ltd, Jonathan Wilson; and Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre Chairman Ron Storey.

They agreed that through a targeted, coordinated and collaborative cross-industry approach underpinned by an existing platform of world-class research and development, Australia is well placed to seize upon opportunities brought about by climate change, shifting markets and consumer trends.

Other key messages delivered to growers and advisers attending SA Updates included:

  • More efficient use of glyphosate combined with effective weed management strategies is required to combat increasing glyphosate resistance in annual ryegrass;
  • GM canola will become an integral part of the rotation in some areas of SA but will not be suitable for every farm situation;
  • Before intending to apply chemicals to a crop, consider grain markets’ maximum residue limits which are constantly changing;
  • Growers can expect to start seeing herbicide labels with the new Herbicide Mode of Action classification system from early 2022;
  • New registrations for Group G herbicides are expanding the ways these herbicides can be used;
  • By 2022, the GRDC’s National Phenology Initiative will deliver a tool for growers and advisers that will be able to predict optimal sowing dates for different cultivars across Australia at the point of release;
  • Matching crop variety development to environment should remain a key focus of crop management, such as early sowing of a slower developing inter cultivar;
  • The GRDC-invested GrainInnovate fund is helping to speed up the build and delivery of new innovations to Australian grain growers;
  • Machine learning techniques using digital data will enable soil constraints and soil moisture to be mapped across cropping farms;
  • Every season brings different invertebrate pest management challenges – avoid chasing last season’s pest problems and assess each season on its own merits;
  • The Russian wheat aphid action threshold calculator is now available and allows for an integrated pest management approach to controlling the aphid;
  • Snail baiting programs should be focused during March to June;
  • Root disease is common in pulses and appears to be causing varying levels of yield loss;
  • Powdery mildew in wheat was a problem across wide areas of SA in 2020, and resistance is a significant threat limiting management;
  • A new DNA soil testing service has been developed to measure Group E and F rhizobia numbers in soil to assist growers in identifying the need to inoculate field pea, faba bean, lentil and vetch crops;
  • An assessment of current ‘rules of thumb’ for predicting nitrogen fertiliser requirements in southern region cropping systems has identified the need to update current assumptions;
  • When considering amelioration of sandy soils in low rainfall environments, it is useful to estimate the yield gap and evaluate seasonal risks that could limit the size and longevity of benefits.

More information is contained in papers delivered at this year’s Grains Research Updates. Recordings from sessions that were live streamed at the Adelaide Update will be available via the GRDC website.

Contact details

For interviews

Tom Blake, GRDC
0418 863 186


Sharon Watt, GRDC Communications Manager – South
0409 675 100

GRDC Project code: ORM1906-001SAX