News in brief

Image of the Harrington Seed Destructor

The Harrington Seed Destructor.

HSD wins global award

De Bruin Engineering’s Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD), designed and manufactured in Australia, has been recognised on the world stage, winning the 2015 Edison Award in the US in the ‘Smart Agriculture’ category.

The HSD helps combat herbicide-resistant weeds by crushing weed seeds during harvest, effectively removing them from the seedbank. It eliminates the need to burn windrows to destroy weed seeds, aiding the retention of organic matter in the soil.

The Edison Awards recognise global innovation and excellence in the design, development, marketing and launch of new products and services. Now in their 28th year, the awards honour innovators who “create a positive impact in the world” across 15 categories, with winners representing “game-changing” products.

De Bruin Engineering, based in Mt Gambier, South Australia, holds the licence from the GRDC to build and sell the HSD, which was designed by Western Australian grower Ray Harrington. The HSD, a trail-behind unit, has been shown to destroy more than 95 per cent of annual weed seeds during harvest while also spreading organic matter over the harvest site. The GRDC has supported the development of the HSD through funding and research with the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative at the University of WA, and the University of South Australia.

More information:

Edison Awards

Wheat breeder expands

Image of Steve Jefferies

Dr Stephen Jefferies.

The country’s largest wheat breeder, Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), is expanding into barley breeding. Established in 2002, AGT’s wheat varieties, including Mace and Suntop, already represent more than 40 per cent of Australia’s wheat crop.

CEO Dr Stephen Jefferies says AGT always intended to move into breeding other grain varieties: “Barley is the second major broadacre crop and it is a logical progression because of the synergies and commonality between wheat and barley breeding,’’ he says.

“They use the same breeding skills and infrastructure. The large-scale mechanics of wheat and barley breeding programs are essentially identical. The main difference is with the quality characteristics required for malting versus those required for bread and noodles.’’

The AGT barley-breeding program will be supported by germplasm from its international shareholder and partner, the grower-owned French cooperative Limagrain. The GRDC, the South Australian Government and the University of Adelaide are other shareholders of AGT. AGT has appointed Paul Telfer to head its barley-breeding program.

More information:

Dr Stephen Jefferies,
0407 189 493,

Positive bank survey

Commonwealth Bank research shows Australian growers are taking a proactive approach to farm profitability by paying attention to product quality and adjusting farm-management strategies to meet markets. The Commonwealth Bank’s biannual Agri Insights survey, also shows growers are generally looking to increase on-farm investment in 2015.

Growers in the 35-to-44-year age bracket are keen to innovate, with women slightly more likely than men to adopt innovative practices.

Geoff Wearne, the bank’s executive general manager of regional and agribusiness banking, says the results show a balance between proactive management and risk mitigation: “In any industry, you need a mix of early adopters and those who take a more conservative management approach,” he says. “Agri Insights has revealed a healthy mix of both in Australian agribusiness.”

The survey reports most farm industries are anticipating growth over the coming year.

Key findings include:
  • 69 per cent of surveyed growers use a combination of methods to pick the right time to sell, while 31 per cent take the price on offer;
  • women are more willing to try new approaches (42 per cent of women versus 38 per cent of men) and they are also more likely to adjust practices in response to the market (64 per cent versus 60 per cent); and
  • 69 per cent of growers say maximising production and quality is the most important profitability driver; 31 per cent say managing costs is most important.

More information:

Agri Insights

WA research grants

Applications are still open for the fourth round of Council of Grain Growers Organisations Ltd (COGGO) research grants. The COGGO Research Fund was formed to invest in grains R&D in Western Australia, with an emphasis on start-up ‘proof-of-concept’ research that has potential to lead to further development using GRDC or commercial funding.

COGGO chair Mr Chris Wilkins says that 28 projects have so far been funded to a total of $1.4 million. Projects have covered crop breeding, fallow management, summer weed control, insect control, grower group projects and technologies to assist farm productivity including the development of apps and web-based decision tools.

Projects have been initiated by grower groups, universities, the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, and private companies.

The COGGO Research Fund is financed through a voluntary levy collected from WA grain growers who are members of COGGO. The Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) administers the fund.

The closing date for the next round is Friday 24 July 2015.

More information:

08 6262 2128,
COGGO Research Fund

Herbicide resource

The GRDC has published a new pre-emergent herbicide manual, Soil behaviour of pre-emergent herbicides in Australian farming systems – a reference manual for agronomic advisers.

Authored by ICAN consultants Mark Congreve and John Cameron, the manual provides information on how herbicides behave in the soil.

The manual covers the basic science underpinning information on product labels to assist advisers with interpreting how pre-emergent herbicides are likely to perform and to understand why they have performed as they have in specific situations. The manual is specifically intended for grains advisers.The manual reflects the greater reliance being placed on pre-emergent herbicides as herbicide resistance increases to knock-down and in-crop selective herbicides.

More information:

Mark Congreve,
0427 209 234,;

John Cameron,
0427 209 709,

The Soil behaviour of pre-emergent herbicides in Australian farming systems manual is available online.

Rural Women’s Awards

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has announced the New South Wales and Tasmanian winners of the 2015 Rural Women’s Awards.

NSW winner, Cindy Cassidy, is chief executive officer of FarmLink Research, a not-for-profit farming systems group at Temora servicing southern growers and agribusiness. Ms Cassidy will explore national and international approaches to agricultural extension to improve the effectiveness of locally delivered programs. The knowledge and tools created through the project will be transferred to other farming systems groups.

Winner of the Tasmanian award is Carol Bracken who grows hazelnuts near Glengarry for her family business, Tamar Valley Hazelnuts. Ms Bracken will study hazelnut production in Oregon in the US, a heartland for hazelnuts and one of the world’s most competitive markets. She also plans to run workshops for women to develop skills in project management, scheduling, budgeting and risk management.

The national award winner will be announced in Canberra on 9 September.

More information:

Rural Women's Award

WANTFA carbon appointment

The Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) has appointed crop trials specialist Jo Wheeler to its Carbon Farming Extension and Outreach Project. Ms Wheeler also works for Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management Incorporated as a project manager on sustainable agricultural projects.

The WANTFA project focuses on the science behind carbon sequestration and soil emissions management, and the synergies between higher soil carbon content, reduced nitrous oxide emissions and farm productivity. Ms Wheeler will be running workshops at specific carbon farming events and field days.

More information:

Jo Wheeler,
08 9670 3121,

Order of Australia award

Grains storage specialist Bill Murray was honoured with an Order of Australia award [Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia] in this year’s Queen’s Birthday list. Mr Murray was recognised for his service to primary industries, particularly through the development of grain storage, export and quality-assurance programs. He has been the industry liaison consultant for the National Residue Survey since 1993 and longstanding chair of the National Working Party on Grain Protection.

More information:

Order of Australia award


Automation looms as the next technology jump


Warming climate complicates management of frost risk

GRDC Project Code UWA00124, ICN00016

Region National, Overseas, South, West, North