Tours highlight need for greater cropping diversity
Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 06 Oct 2016
The need for increased diversity to ensure the continued sustainability and profitability of Western Australia’s cropping systems was a key issue highlighted during recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) spring tours.
GRDC Western Regional Panel chairman Peter Roberts said grower feedback reinforced the importance of the GRDC’s continued strong focus on investments to improve the genetics of legumes and identify innovations to drive their profitable adoption across a range of environments.
The GRDC Western Regional Panel conducted three separate tours in September, visiting districts in the State’s northern, central and southern grainbelt.
In addition to panel members, GRDC board members, staff and management, including recently appointed managing director Steve Jefferies, also participated.
The Western Regional Panel is responsible for helping to shape the GRDC’s research, development and extension (RD&E) investment portfolio and the annual spring tours help to ensure that investments accurately reflect issues constraining grower profitability.
Mr Roberts said there was an over-reliance on cereals and oilseeds in the WA grainbelt and a need for new break crops and improved varieties adapted to different soil types and conditions.
“There is a need for reliable legumes that are more profitable, low input and allow for better weed management,” he said.
“The current lack of diversity is driving a number of the issues raised by growers during the tours, including: problems with weeds; increased prevalence of crop disease, such as sclerotinia; and pests such as root lesion nematodes (RLN).
“As well as shorter-term investments, the GRDC is committed to maintaining its long-term research focus with the aim of providing improved rotational options to WA growers in the years to come.”Mr Roberts said other agronomic issues raised by growers included: frost; soil constraints and amelioration; insufficient water use efficiency; snails and slugs; canola breeding and yields; fallow management; heat stress; controlled traffic farming (CTF) and variable rate technology (VRT).
“All issues raised have been recorded and the GRDC Western Regional Panel will discuss these to ensure any research ‘gaps’ are addressed and that investments continue to address grower priorities,” he said.
Mr Roberts said growers he spoke to during the tours appreciated the opportunity for interaction with GRDC representatives and to have their questions answered.
“I encourage growers and industry to maintain communication with the GRDC – the door is always open,” he said.
“Opportunities for consultation include raising issues with your local GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) group members, speaking with Western Regional Panel members and contacting our WA-based staff.
“Growers can call me on 0428 389 060, contact the GRDC Perth office on 08 9230 4608 or find out more about RCSNs via this lnik.”
The GRDC plans and invests in RD&E for the Australian grains industry. Its primary objective is to drive the discovery, development and delivery of world-class innovation to enhance the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Australian grain growers and benefit the industry and the wider community.
For InterviewsPeter Roberts, GRDC
0428 389 060
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827