Growers continue to innovate, survey shows

Peter Reading

By Peter Reading, Managing Director, Grains Research and Development Corporation

The GRDC"s capacity to accurately target grains industry research needs and to take an informed leadership position has been strengthened by growers who took part in our recent performance survey.

Growers" perspectives on the GRDC"s performance and funding priorities were sought in a national telephone survey - the "GRDC Organisational Performance Indicator Survey".

Surveys like this a crucial for providing the GRDC with a clear picture of trends and changes in growers" attitudes and practises. They help the GRDC determine future research priorities, plus provide feedback on how the GRDC is perceived by growers and how the corporation is meeting grower"s expectations.

The time and effort that growers put into providing us with this information is important and very much appreciated.

This year"s survey, conducted in May, showed that GRDC-backed research is making a difference to individual farm performances as well as to the grains industry as a whole.

The survey indicated that most growers (93 percent) are aware of the GRDC, but only half felt they understand how the organisation sets its research priorities. This is an area we will look at, and address.

However, while some of our internal processes might not be widely understood, most growers indicated a good understanding of the GRDC"s role in funding the development of better quality grain, new crop varieties, disease resistance, new cropping technologies and other research areas.

In terms of knowledge of the GRDC and its research efforts, a sizeable majority of growers nominated Ground Cover as their “major source of awareness”.

The research showed that the biggest influence on decisions to actually make on-farm changes is grower groups, and the influence of leading growers, farm advisers and agronomists.

It was also pleasing to see that 82 percent of growers nationally believe they have benefited directly from grains research and development over the past five years - and of these, the majority acknowledge the role of the GRDC.
Importantly, areas where growers feel there is not enough attention or funding are GM crops, sustainable cropping and marketing.

The survey showed that in the past two years significant numbers of growers (up to 29 percent) have adopted new or improved practices, in particular reduced tillage - ranging from less ploughing to direct-drilling and stubble retention, and all the way to no-till.

A clear sign that Australian growers are professional and proactive in their determination to stay at the forefront of grains production internationally is the fact that three-quarters of growers surveyed said they had taken direct action in the past three years to improve production and quality.

This is underlined by other background data collected in the survey, showing more than 80 percent of growers now use computers, 74 percent are connected to the internet, more than 60 percent employ professional consultants and almost 60 percent have attended grains-related learning programs in the past 12 months.

Farm advisers and agronomists are playing an increasingly important role in growers" decisions about on-farm change and the adoption of technology. For the GRDC, this opens up opportunities to further explore new linkages and relationships with off-farm professionals.

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