Victorian grains industry geared up for season 2020

image of Craig Altmann and Courtney Ramse
GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Courtney Ramsey, caught up with Craig Altmann, AGF Seeds, Smeaton, at the Bendigo Grains Research Update. Photo: GRDC

The Victorian grains industry is well equipped with the latest research findings, new knowledge and critical advice to guide growers through the 2020 cropping season and into the future.

Important information and recommendations to support growers has been delivered at recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Updates.

The Bendigo Update, attended by 280 people, has played an especially important role in informing advisers and growers for the coming season, according to GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Courtney Ramsey.

“New outcomes and findings from GRDC investments in research, development and extension will inform Victorian growers’ decision-making – not only over the coming production year but well beyond,” Ms Ramsey says.

“The GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo – attended by a mix of forward-thinking advisers, growers and key industry representatives – also provided a crucial opportunity for networking, sharing and debating ideas, access to researchers and the chance to provide feedback to inform future grains research investment.

“The Update featured leading United Kingdom agricultural consultant Keith Norman who spoke about the realities of producing grain in a highly regulated environment, as well as expert speakers from across the nation who discussed future industry challenges and opportunities, along with more immediate, regional agronomic and tactical approaches – underpinned by outcomes from rigorous scientific research.”

image of Western AG Representatives
Attending the GRDC Grains Research Update in Bendigo are Western AG representatives Jaron Dunstan (left), Derrinallum; Adrik Wright, Ballarat; Darcy Bullen, Nhill; and Clare Svilans, Kaniva. Photo: GRDC

Key messages delivered to growers and advisers attending the event included:

  • Plant breeding and genetics have a vital part to play in the sustainability of crop production;
  • A clear opportunity exists for grains, particularly whole cereal grains and legumes, to be featured in plant-based meat substitutes;
  • A ‘whole of industry’ approach is required to defend and maintain Australia’s barley markets;
  • In coming decades, it is likely that yield gains will need to double to enable growers to maintain profit levels;
  • The increasing interest in harvest weed seed control systems (HWSC) continues to drive the development of new and improved HWSC systems;
  • New pre-emergent herbicides are becoming available, however, it is vital that these are used appropriately to get the best results;
  • Higher crop seeding rates appear to consistently improve the suppression of annual ryegrass and brome grass, especially in later sown crops;
  • A pasture phase can deliver substantial and lasting nutritional benefits well into a subsequent cropping phase, as well as providing the opportunity to drive weed seed banks to very low levels;
  • In many cases, soil sampling intensity should be increased to sample multiple zones in a paddock as soil phosphorous and nitrogen status are highly variable across and within paddocks;
  • Strategic one-off incorporation of lime is the fastest way to ameliorate highly acidic soil layers, especially at depth;
  • A thorough testing program is recommended to diagnose soil constraints to depth before undertaking any amelioration practices;
  • A number of simple farm practice changes can be made to maximise establishment of canola and lentil crops;
  • Prior to sowing, use the BlacklegCM canola disease management decision support tool to identify high risk paddocks and explore management strategies to reduce yield loss;
  • A new national pulse disease rating system has been implemented to ensure a consistent and independent disease rating system for pulses;
  • Recent reports of fungicide resistance in cereal pathogens highlight the importance of avoiding fungicide use that increases the likelihood of resistance development;
  • Insecticide resistance management needs to have a foundation in long-term planning rather than short-term decision making to achieve sustainability benefits;
  • To minimise snail bait degradation, avoid baiting in significant rainfall or high temperatures and store bait in cool conditions;
  • Multiple earwig species have been detected in grain crops, most of which are not associated with crop damage – it is therefore important to correctly identify which species is present in a paddock before taking any action.

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