Report: What farmers want from GRDC research

Man and Boy in field

Kondinin Group survey results from 750 farmers have revealed that crop improvement or plant breeding is their number one priority. And this opinion did not vary from state to state. But second and third priorities were not as clear cut, with mixed opinions across Australia.

Managing soil fertility ranked as the second highest priority for Western Australians and New South Wales farmers but the development of new legumes was the second choice for Victorians and South Australians.

Other issues considered very important include:

  • Managing soil structure;

  • Crop management for quality grain;

  • Managing fertiliser and nutritional requirements for cropping.

Among topics that farmers didn't rate as being of a high priority for research were managing climatic risk, crop and pasture monitoring systems and crop management decision support systems. Managing marketing and financial risk was seen as a mid-range priority.

One of the biggest problems to face the grains industry in recent times has been that of herbicide resistant weeds. Nationally 88 per cent of farmers are aware of this problem and a staggering 21 per cent of those surveyed said a problem existed on their property.

Another issue resulting from exhaustive research over the last few years is the importance of time of sowing and its effect on crop yield, Nationally 94 per cent of farmers recognised this as being an important factor contributing to maximum yield (weather permitting).

A series of small farmer meetings revealed other concerns of grain growers, many of which the GRDC is already addressing. At a meeting at Kadina in South Australia farmers discussed the problem of white snails. Many of these farmers had difficulty with harvesters becoming gummed up with snails. They dubbed it "snail blown headers". Black spot in peas was another problem.

Victorian farmers were most concerned with methods of trash handling when sowing. Although they were aware of various trash handling machinery they felt that local research trials were required to adequately demonstrate the operation. Tillage practices were also a concern with farmers from the Esperance region of Western Australia where some no-till disc machines were being used. Farmers said they were expensive and correct methods of weed and disease control were not clear.

This information comes from results of a project funded by the GRDC. Farmers' requirements of GRDC research are to be tracked over a three year period by the Kondinin Group.

Region North, South, West