Discussing crop establishment trials to be conducted at Tammin, WA, are (from left) WANTFA executive director David Minkey, grower Brad Jones and Glenn McDonald, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. (Photo by Julia Easton, GRDC)
(June 25, 2018) - New research aims to increase the profitability of growers in Australia’s southern and western grain producing areas by providing them with knowledge about how to optimize the establishment of their crops.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is investing almost $2 million in the project, and co-investment from the University of Adelaide, farming systems groups and growers will total $1.9 million over four years.
The purpose of this significant investment is to help growers improve sowing practices and increase crop establishment rates.
Research is being led by the University of Adelaide, with the Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) coordinating the WA component of the project.
The research team also includes farming systems groups. In the southern region these are the Hart Field-Site Group, Northern Sustainable Soils, the Birchip Cropping Group, Southern Farming Systems and the University of South Australia. In the western region, groups include the Liebe Group, Facey Group and Corrigin Farm Improvement Group, in addition to WANTFA.
Project leader Glenn McDonald, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at Waite, says the project aimed to improve crop establishment and decrease seed costs associated with the use of conventional air-seeders for canola, lentil, and faba bean in the southern region, and canola, wheat, and lupin in the western region.
“Research outcomes will also enable growers to consider the costs and benefits of precision seeding technology (or precision planters), which are designed to reduce seed costs and lift crop yields by sowing in a uniform pattern,” he says. “This type of planting technology is not widely used for winter crops in Australia, but it could have potential.”
McDonald says initial work would include a survey to determine typical rates of crop establishment achieved by growers using conventional air seeder systems, and a survey of all growers in the regions testing precision planters.
“The survey of growers using conventional air seeder systems will examine seeder technology, crop establishment, depth of sowing and uniformity between plants,” he says. “Information sought in the survey of growers using precision planters will include relevant details and data about their seeder set-up, and their perceptions of the challenges and successes of this technology.”
McDonald says several seeder demonstration and comparison trials would be conducted, as well as small plot trials.
“Commercial scale air-seeders and precision planters will be demonstrated and trialled at sites in each region,” he says. “In the southern region, trials will be conducted with local machinery dealers and growers at Horsham and Inverleigh. In the western region, trials will be conducted at Tammin and at Kalannie. Relevant machinery, soil and plant information will be recorded, and plant establishment, early growth, yield and quality will be measured and analyzed.”
McDonald says information generated through the project could provide spill-over benefits to the improved establishment of additional grain crops not specifically studied in the project – including chickpea, field pea, vetch, and barley.
Glenn McDonald, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine (left) with GRDC Manager of Systems and Agronomy – South, Andrew Etherton. (Photo by GRDC)