Forum pinpoints nitrogen knowledge gaps

Photo of a gathered crowd in a room

Nitrogen management forum participants defining and discussing nitrogen management gaps in the southern cropping region at Bundoora, Victoria.

PHOTOS: Sharon Watt

The foundations have been laid for filling gaps in nitrogen management knowledge in the southern cropping region. Research organisations, state departments of agriculture, farming systems groups, advisers, growers and other grains industry personnel gathered at a GRDC forum in July to determine questions that need to be answered by existing and future nitrogen-related research, development and extension (RD&E).

The forum, held in Bundoora, Victoria, identified knowledge gaps affecting crop production and grower profit.

Four women

At the nitrogen management forum at Bundoora, Victoria, (from left) CSIRO's Dr Lynne Macdonald, the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries' Dr Penny  Riffkin, MacKillop Farm Management Group's Felicity Turner and Hart Field Site Group's Sarah Noack.

Andrew Rice, GRDC manager regional grower services – south, says providing growers with solutions about one of their biggest single input costs requires fresh RD&E and input from existing and potential new partners.

“The Australian grains RD&E sector is constrained by finite dollars and fewer people operating over vast areas, so collaboration has to be the hallmark of RD&E,” he says.

“We need to create accessible opportunities for growers, advisers and researchers to provide input into identifying, designing and delivering RD&E that will have the most impact on-farm. The nitrogen management forum was part of that approach.”

Mr Rice says while the GRDC is the largest single funder of grains RD&E, significant investments are made by others in the industry and it is important to harness their resources, skills and expertise.

Facilitated by consultant Cam Nicholson, the forum included presentations from researchers, farming groups and advisers who outlined current thinking on research and both current and predicted knowledge gaps.

The 95 participants defined and discussed 77 RD&E gaps in soil processes, legumes, crop breeding, crop management, farming systems and business management.

The GRDC’s four southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs) and the GRDC Southern Panel have reviewed these identified gaps and Mr Rice says follow-up activities will involve researchers, growers and advisers.

“A strategic and collaborative approach to future investments is needed so we can deliver practical and profitable solutions to growers,” he says.

Mr Rice says the forum was the first of what are proposed to be annual industry-driven RD&E assessment events.

He says topics will be determined on the basis of regional priorities.

More information:

Andrew Rice,
0427 965 469,

andrew.rice@grdc.com.au

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