The GRDC out and about

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Image of Adam Quade and Arthur Gearon

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries technical officer Adam Quade (left), from Toowoomba, caught up with GRDC Northern Panel member Arthur Gearon at Billa Billa, near Goondiwindi, during the annual GRDC northern spring tour.

PHOTO: Cox Inall Communications

The GRDC’s annual spring tours have again provided valuable opportunities for researchers, growers and their GRDC Panel representatives to meet and discuss research projects across the country.

The mood was buoyant across the regions as crops were finishing strongly on the back of a wet winter. The only dampener (aside from the rain and NSW floods) was low wheat prices.

Image of people at a trial site

Flanked by GRDC Southern Panel members Kate Wilson (Hopetoun, Victoria) and Mark Stanley (Port Lincoln, SA), GRDC southern manager grower services Craig Ruchs inspects symptoms of Russian wheat aphid damage at a cereal pathology trial site near Horsham, in Victoria.

PHOTO: Rebecca Jennings

The Southern Panel travelled through Victoria looking at cropping constraints that also affect growers in South Australia and Tasmania. Panel members, accompanied by the GRDC’s new managing director, Dr Steve Jefferies, and regional staff, travelled through the Mallee, Wimmera and south-west districts, where they met growers, farming systems groups, researchers and other industry personnel.

Wet and muddy conditions prevailed throughout the tour, during which issues such as blackleg in canola, waterlogging, lodging of crops, nutrient management, herbicide residues and herbicide resistance were raised and discussed. Locations visited included the Riverine Plains, Riverine Research Centre, the BCG field day at Warmur, Bayer CropScience’s wheat and oilseeds breeding centre at Longerenong, the Grains Innovation Park Horsham, Agriculture Victoria trial sites at Hamilton and Southern Farming Systems’ Inverleigh trial site.

The Hart Field Day in SA also provided a timely opportunity to assess the 2016 season and plan for the future.

Image of people at a field day

Merredin and District Farm Improvement Group’s Cam Gethan (left) and chairman Doug McGinniss flank GRDC Western Panel member Jules Alvaro at the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA’s, annual Merredin Research Facility field day.

PHOTO: Jo Fullwood

Dr Jefferies also joined the tour in Western Australia, visiting grower groups in the northern agricultural region, including Mingenew, Mullewa, Nabawa, Northampton, Ajana and Yuna. Dr Jefferies said the tours are an opportunity to engage with growers, as well as glean new ideas for research. He said that during his term he was keen to move the GRDC from being seen as just a funding body to being a research partner with growers and research organisations.

As in the west and south, innovative grains research also took centre stage when the Northern Panel travelled through Queensland. The northern spring tour visited GRDC-funded trials investigating innovative farming systems, agronomic practices and soil and crop nutrition at sites on the eastern and western Darling Downs as well as western Queensland.

The group also travelled to Central Queensland, where they met researchers and grower solutions group representatives to discuss research into cereal agronomy, pulse agronomy and nutrition, and walk through a National Variety Trials site.

The GRDC’s new Northern Panel chair, John Minogue, says consulting with growers and industry personnel is critical to ensuring levies are directed into research and development activities that have a meaningful, lasting and profitable impact in the paddock.

Image of people at a trial site

On the road in WA (from left): Peter Horwood and Lance Perry from the Mingenew–Irwin Group (MIG), 2016 Nuffield Scholar James Dempster, Western Panel chair Peter Roberts, GRDC managing director Dr Steve Jefferies, Debbie Gillam (MIG), and Western Panel member Darrin Lee.

PHOTO: Stephanie Meikle

Image of people at a field day

Chef Simon Bryant (left) and Pulse Australia chairman Peter Wilson (centre) are pictured with Hart Field Site chairman and Spalding, SA, grower Damien Sommerville.

‘There is money in mud’ was the fitting slogan for the annual Hart Field Day in the mid-north of South Australia on 20 September.

More than 600 growers, advisers and researchers donned gumboots and Driza-Bones to mark 34 years of applied research at the site. Lentils, legumes and beans were firmly on the menu to celebrate the 2016 International Year of Pulses.

Trials at the site covered herbicide tolerance in lentils and faba beans and chickpea disease management, while Canadian plant breeder Bert Vandenberg (University of Saskatchewan) shared an international perspective on the growing popularity of pulses.

Mr Wilson walked growers through the opportunities and challenges of marketing pulses, and Mr Bryant championed the nutritional benefits of pulses while he cooked up a tagine using kabuli chickpeas grown on the Yorke Peninsula.

PHOTO: Sharon Watt

Image of people at a trial site

DAFWA project leader Stephen Davies explains some of the results of a non-wetting soil trial on Western Panel member Paul Kelly’s farm, ‘Santa Fe’. Pictured (from left) are Jason McKie (GRDC manager agronomy, west), Steve Jefferies, Paul Kelly and Stephen Davies. The non-wetting soil trial was set up by the Mingenew–Irwin Group and DAFWA, with the help of Paul and other growers, to look at the effects different soil-amelioration techniques (spading, disc ploughing, deep-ripping) have on establishment, weed control, yield and grain quality.

PHOTO: Stephanie Meikle

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