Industry snapshot

Career recognition

Former University of Sydney IA Watson Grains Research Institute director Dr Lindsay O’Brien has been awarded the Eric E Bond Award by the Australasian Grain Science Association.

The award, named in honour of the late Eric Bond, a respected cereal scientist and director of the Bread Research Institute of Australia, recognises individuals who have contributed to grains science through the advancement of technology, research or services to the industry.

Dr O’Brien has been involved in the grains industry since his appointment as a wheat breeder/geneticist at the Victorian Department of Agriculture in 1968. During his career as a wheat breeder he led the Victorian wheat breeding program and cereal chemistry laboratories. He was an early adopter of novel germplasm from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

In 1988, Dr O’Brien was appointed director of the IA Watson Wheat Research Centre in Narrabri, the field station for the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute.

More information:

Dr Joe Panozzo, AGSA,
0418 365 310

New Pulse Australia head

Pulse Australia has appointed Ron Storey as its new chair. He replaces Peter Wilson, who has completed a six-year term.

Mr Storey paid tribute to Mr Wilson’s work to elevate pulses in Australian cropping systems and the increasing awareness of pulses’ benefits to farming landscapes, crop rotations and consumer health. Mr Storey has been a Pulse Australia director for more than 10 years. He noted that Australia is now the world’s largest exporter of chickpeas and international markets had come to expect high-quality produce from Australia.

More information:

Nick Goddard, Pulse Australia,
02 8007 7553

Pulse Australia

Fire book to assist growers

Photo of the aftermath of fires at Scaddan and Grass Patch in November 2015

Aftermath of Scaddan and Grass Patch fires in November 2015.

PHOTO: Evan Collis

A new book to assist growers in managing their farming properties after a major fire will soon be available in both print and electronic form.

Funded by the GRDC, the book documents the strategies employed by growers in the Cascades, Grass Patch, Scaddan and Merivale regions near Esperance, Western Australia, who experienced catastrophic fires in November 2015.

Produced by the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA), the book will include case studies and data collected by local agronomists and researchers from the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA. It will include yield comparisons between soils affected by the fires and unaffected soils.

The book will be available from SEPWA.

Faba bean clarification

In the September–October 2016 issue of GroundCoverTM we referred to the increasing interest among Tasmanian growers in faba beans, with one reason being their tolerance to acidic subsoils. This related to trials in which faba beans were still performing in soils with a pH of 5.75 (calcium chloride (CaCl2)), which under Tasmanian conditions is generally considered only ‘mildly acidic’.

In South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, faba beans are not recommend for soils that with a pH below 6.0. This comes from NSW research.

However, Southern Farming Systems (SFS) trials in Tasmania tested the crop in soils with a pH of 5.75 and still achieved 6t/ha yields.

In 2016 SFS followed up this work with trials on pH 5.25 (CaCl2) soils, with the crops still performing to expectations. These Tasmanian results indicate that in that cropping system this level of acidity does not seem to be affecting growth, but researchers there and in other states caution against growers elsewhere taking this as a guide for their situation.

GRDC Research Codes DAN00191, SFS00030

More information:

Pulse Australia, 'Faba bean production: southern and western region' – best management guide

Farm safety figures

Farm accident figures for the first nine months of 2016 showed that 47 people had lost their lives in on-farm incidents and a further 61 had been involved in non-fatal incidents that were serious enough to make the media.

The figures were released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety and are based on an analysis of media reports across the country.

Centre director Dr Tony Lower says the toll is considerably higher than for the same period in 2015. “These figures once again demonstrate the importance of pausing and considering the safety aspects that need attention,” he says.

“History tells us that the injury consequences are far reaching and yet we know that the majority of cases can be prevented”, Dr Lower says.

Farm machinery, tractors and quad bikes were involved in almost half of the accidents and 20 per cent of accidents involved children under the age of 15.

Information that can assist with on-farm safety awareness is available on the centre’s website.

More information:

Dr Tony Lower,
02 6752 8210,

Rice conference

Register now for the 2017 International Temperate Rice Conference to be held in Griffith, New South Wales, from Monday 6 March to Thursday 9 March 2017.

The conference, themed ‘Tradition, Technology, Productivity – A Balancing Act’ will showcase the latest advancements in temperate rice research, technology and innovation.

A selection of tours are also on offer, including a trip to the rice industry’s premier research showcase, the Australian Rice Field Day, on 9 March.

More information:

ITR Conference,

@ITRConference (Twitter)


Profitability rising on a lentil learning curve


Research hub for pulse crops

GRDC Project Code DAN00191, SFS00030,

Region North, Overseas, South, West