What do you want to know? And how did you hear?

Photo of a farmer leaning on his equipment

The Kondinin Group has been commissioned by the GRDC to investigate farmers' own views of their research requirements.

Ground Cover is pleased to be filling a great need with its regular reporting of outcomes and strategies arising from GRDC-funded research. As farmers talk to us more we hope to do better yet. Below are some of the responses coming in.

Farmers state their priorities

Soil acidity and liming of soils; alternative crops in wheat rotations (legumes or oilseeds); crop diseases (leaf- and root rot) and the management of stubble residues in zero tillage. These top the list of research priorities merging from farmer meetings held in South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia in recent months.

The Kondinin Group is seeking farmers views through a combination of postal surveys sent to all members and meetings with selected 'focus groups' of farmers, said manager Geoff Hamilton. Kondinin is a self-help farmers' organisation with 5000 members.

Mr Hamilton said the Group gathers its quantitative information from the postal survey, and its qualitative information from the meetings. The project is ultimately aimed at assessing the extent to which farmers use and benefit from the results of research. More emphasis will be placed on adaptation of new technology in current management systems, said Mr Hamilton.

Farmers will be asked particularly about their adoption of technologies or strategies related to herbicide resistance, minimum tillage and soil/acidity. The respondents will be tracked over the three year life of the project.

Other information is also coming in. For example, feedback from the first three focus groups indicates that computer-based decision support systems are not as widely used as might be expected. Mr Hamilton said Kondinin will be trying to find out why.

The first survey results will be out in May with the exercise continuing during the next two years. Mr Hamilton has this message for farmers: "If you get a survey questionnaire don't miss this opportunity to have a say and help shape the direction for future research priorities."

Here are some ideas...You are invited to write in with your own.

Ronald Shipp, 'Uondo', Kerang Vic / mixed cropping on 445 ha:

Information on minimum tillage and how all the research informalion, including herbicide use, fits together - "otherwise we' ll turn into a dustbowl."

Neil David, Birchip Vic / mixed cropping on 485 ha:

Breeding wheat to eliminate sprouting.

Allan Dow, 'Roderick Plains,' Bellata NSW / 73 ha under soybeans:

More of the same in breeding new varieties.

Trevor Day, 'Macaw Peak', Riverton SA / grain legumes:

Breeding new varieties for disease resistance; understanding and control of fungal disease in faba beallS; more effective seed dressing for fungal disease: study an the benefits of growing superior (cleaner) seed.

Dean Oswald, 'Green Oaks', Yaninee SA/wheat:

Rhizoclollia control, disease comrol generally; another grain legume for wheat rotation suited to local dryland conditions.

Peter Blair, at Kalkee (Horsham) Vic I mixed cropping on 1050 ha:

Results could be implemented more quickly; legumes - more work on herbicides and weed control.

Robert Bradley, 'Gloriana,' Kellerberrin (central wheat belt) WA / wheat, barley and sheep on 600 ha:

The full story of what goes on in the soil - "yields can be influenced a lot more by improved soils than chaSing high yield grains"; More information on deep ripping and liming - go hand in hand.

Our Apologies

to growers Hugh Robens and Mostyn Fletcher who spoke with us for the last issue of Ground Cover and whose better-than-average yields with new triticale and wheat varieties respectively were seriously underreported due to typographical and mathematical gremlins.