News in brief

Barley breeder retires

Western Australian barley breeder Reg Lance has retired after almost 40 years in the Australian grains industry. He worked with the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA) for more than 20 years, where his legacy to the industry includes the popular malting variety BaudinA, released in 2002 to replace Gairdner for medium to high-rainfall areas.

Two men with a laptop

Retired barley breeder Reg Lance (right) with former colleague and molecular geneticist Dr Chengdao Li.

PHOTO: Nicole Baxter

Earlier in his career, at the University of Adelaide, he helped to develop Chebec, Sloop, Dhow, Keel and Maritime. Baudin marked a leap forward in terms of quality and is still considered an international benchmark. With DAFWA he also developed Hamelin, Vlamingh (with Dr Chengdao Li in 2006) Molloy, Doolup, Hannan, Lockyer and Roe.

After moving to the cereal breeding company InterGrain he released Bass and his newest variety, Flinders, is being evaluated for malting accreditation. If accredited, it is expected to provide a yield advantage over Bass.

Soil science award

CSIRO senior research scientist Dr Jeff Baldock, who is based in Adelaide, has been awarded the JA Prescott Award for his outstanding contribution to soil science. Originally from Canada, Dr Baldock has led nine GRDC-funded projects since the 1990s, and has contributed to more sustainable cropping and mixed-farming systems across the southern grains region, especially in the Mallee.

Image of Jeff Baldock

The winner of Soil Science Australia's JA Prescott Award, Dr Jeff Baldock: a senior research scientist with CSIRO's Agriculture Flagship in Adelaide, where he leads the Soil Carbon and Nutrients Group in the Sustaining Agricultural Soils and Landscapes Program.

His research into nitrogen cycling, mineralisation and soil organic matter has helped provide advisers and grain growers with the tools needed to make more profitable nitrogen management decisions.

More recently, he has developed new techniques to more rapidly measure soil carbon fractions. His leadership of the National Soil Carbon Research Program has led to national data that, combined with metadata, allows for greater understanding of the environmental and management factors that build soil carbon.

More information:

Dr Jeff Baldock,
CSIRO, 08 8303 8537

1800 weevil

Grain growers needing advice on their grain storage investments and practices can use a new national hotline on 1800 933 845 (or 1800 weevil). The hotline is part of the GRDC's Grain Storage Extension Project, and will connect growers with their nearest specialist for grain storage advice.

Leading this GRDC project, ProAdvice consultant Chris Warwick says growers planning to store grain on their properties can get expert advice via the hotline to make sure their grain is stored correctly.

GRDC Research Code PAD00001

More information:

Stored Grain Information Hub

GRDC appointments

The GRDC has appointed three new members to its Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) for the southern grains region to replace outgoing members Neil Vallance, Colin McMaster and Adam Inchbold.

New South Wales grower Tony Geddes, who runs a mixed-farming operation at Holbrook, joins the high-rainfall zone RCSN. Victorian grower Andrew Russell, who has a grains business in the Browns Plains district, and research agronomist Rohan Brill, based in Wagga Wagga with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, have joined the medium-rainfall RCSN. Other southern region RCSNs focus on low-rainfall and irrigation cropping zones.

There are 42 members of the RCSN in the southern region who help inform the GRDC's investment in grains research, extension and development, with a focus on lifting cropping productivity and profitability in the southern grains region.

More information:

GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Networks

Barley soil disease tests

Southern region grain growers are advised to test their soils ahead of this year’s barley plantings after 2014 losses, which were caused by disease. The soil-borne diseases cereal cyst nematode (CCN) and crown rot had a significant impact on barley yields, particularly on the lighter, sandy soils of Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW.

GRDC Southern Panel member Rob Sonogan says to avoid further yield losses this season, it will be critical to test disease levels in paddocks earmarked for sowing.

"If disease levels didn't break down over the summer, crops will be at risk, especially if growers select new varieties that aren't disease tolerant," says Mr Sonogan, who is also an agronomic consultant based at Swan Hill, Victoria.

While tolerant and resistant barley varieties have reduced the impact of CCN in recent decades, Mr Sonogan says only one non-resistant crop in one season needs to be grown for the disease to re-emerge.

Scope barley is especially susceptible to CCN.

Mr Sonogan is encouraging soil testing to determine disease and risk levels so growers can choose the most appropriate crop variety.

He recommends the PreDicta B® DNA-based soil testing, accessible through agronomists accredited by the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

More information:

Shawn Rowe
0477 744 305

PreDicta® B,


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GRDC Project Code PAD00001

Region National, South, West, North