Growers consider R&D "critical"

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A recent GRDC survey of grain growers across Australia shows 89 per cent consider R&D “critical” to their farm businesses.

The survey indicates that the number of growers who said they had benefited from grains R&D activities has increased by nine percentage points to 76 per cent, while the perception that the GRDC contributed to those benefits has also increased since the previous study in 2010.

Zoltan Lukacs, strategic planning and reporting manager, GRDC, says the survey of 1203 growers in July and August 2012 suggests the GRDC’s investment in research, development and extension (RD&E) is making a difference in grains operations.

Photo of male hands holding seedling

A healthy wheat seedling, dry-sown but able to germinate and grow on the strength of stored soil moisture; just one of numerous changes to farming practices as a result of unceasing grains research.

PHOTO: Evan Collis

“On behalf of growers and the Australian Government, the GRDC annually invests about $140 million in RD&E to promote innovation, productivity and profitability in the grains sector,” Mr Lukacs says.

“It is therefore important that we canvas growers about the effectiveness of GRDC-funded initiatives, activities and information.

“The biennial survey provides a good indication of what’s working in terms of industry RD&E and its uptake by growers, and where there is room for improvement, plus key insights into the farming systems of grain producers and their confidence in the industry’s future,” he says.

Another survey finding was that 78 per cent of respondents believe grains industry R&D projects are addressing threats to long-term sustainability “fairly well to very well”.

The number of growers who have been conducting activities to help improve the long-term sustainability of their operations had also increased to 92 per cent, while just under half of these respondents said these measures had resulted from GRDC activities or projects.

Mr Lukacs says levels of confidence in crop protection had continued to be high. Of the growers surveyed, 84 per cent said they were better equipped to tackle weed issues and 82 per cent said they were more confident in dealing with diseases than they were five years ago.

The study showed there had been a major increase in adoption of integrated strategies for managing pests, weeds and disease, which had respectively increased to 56 per cent, 76 per cent and 61 per cent. Efforts to delay herbicide resistance were also being undertaken by 91 per cent of growers, while four per cent planned to implement measures in this area, according to the study.

Other findings of the survey included:

  • respondents were significantly more likely to believe they were “innovative” compared with 2010, and they thought using decision-support tools to run their farm was of high importance;
  • compared with the 2010 findings, the number of growers who have confidence in the industry’s ability to rapidly respond to crop protection threats had increased to 65 per cent;
  • awareness of the GRDC-funded National Variety Trials (NVT) continues to grow and it has become more widespread in the past two years;
  • about 89 per cent of the surveyed growers had adopted new winter cereal varieties in the past five years, and they were grown by 80 per cent of respondents in the past two years. About half of these growers credited GRDC activities and projects for their uptake of new varieties;
  • the number of growers who have adopted new pulse varieties is 34 per cent, an increase of 16 per cent since the 2010 survey;
  • the number of respondents growing new varieties of oilseeds (predominantly canola) was 39 per cent; and
  • in states where GM canola is available, the survey showed it is being grown by 12 per cent of respondents and a further 12 per cent said they were considering growing it. In South Australia, where GM canola is not available, about a third of growers said they were interested in growing the crop.

The number of growers who said they were optimistic about the future of the grains industry had also lifted, to 86 per cent, in the past two years.

More information:

Zoltan Lukacs
02 6166 4500

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Southern edition: Genetics to help beat wheat disease
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GRDC Project Code DER00014

Region South