Important new data has been released to inform grain growers' crop variety choices for the 2020 season.
Harvesting of the extensive winter crop variety trials conducted through the GRDC's National Variety Trials (NVT) program is complete and data from those trials is now available to growers and advisers.
GRDC NVT Manager - South, Rob Wheeler, says single site results from successful trials in 2019 have been finalised and this data has been fed into multi-year, multi-environment trial (MET) variety performance analysis.
"These multi-year, rolling datasets for all crops and growing regions will provide growers with the most valuable information to support their decision-making around what to sow this year," Mr Wheeler says.
"Long-term MET results are the most accurate and reliable means of interpreting variety performance across sites and years, rather than results from a single year."
Simply focusing on yield does not provide growers with a reliable indication of which varieties may potentially offer the best returns - the quality of the grain harvested is also an important factor.
Results and analysis from the 224 NVT program trials harvested in 2019 across South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania can be viewed at NVT Online.
Growers and advisers are encouraged to base their variety decisions on not just yield results, but also market receival quality data.
"Simply focusing on yield does not provide growers with a reliable indication of which varieties may potentially offer the best returns - the quality of the grain harvested is also an important factor," Mr Wheeler says.
To support growers and advisers, the GRDC has produced instructional videos on 'How to interpret NVT data (long-term yield results) using the NVT website' and 'How to navigate NVT's website'. The videos can be viewed via GRDC's YouTube channel.
Conditions in the south
Season 2019 was a somewhat variable one across the southern cropping region and these conditions were reflected in the NVT program.
"The trials program in 2019 was generally a successful one, with a small percentage of trials compromised by frost and shattering due to strong winds - particularly just ahead of harvest in November," says Mr Wheeler, who discusses the southern NVT program in the video below.
"Data from those compromised trials is presented in a 'quarantined' report on NVT Online," Mr Wheeler says.
"This report provides growers with a transparent account of the fate of unreleased - but not abandoned - trials.
"However, the data is of no value for the purposes of head-to-head variety comparison and should not be used for any variety selection decisions."
Meanwhile, planning for the NVT program for 2020 is well underway - with the number of trials across the nation expected to be around 650.
The largest co-ordinated field trial network of its kind in the world, NVT is a 100 per cent GRDC investment that is fully administered by the GRDC on behalf of Australian grain growers and the Australian Government.
A national program of comparative crop variety testing with standardised trial management, data generation, collection and dissemination, NVT seeks to assist growers to optimise the profitability of their farming systems through choosing the most appropriate varieties for their growing environments.
GRDC NVT Senior Manager, Sean Coffey, says NVT represents a huge logistical undertaking, evaluating varieties for the 10 major crop types - wheat, barley, canola, chickpea, faba bean, field pea, lentil, lupin, oat and sorghum - within trials across the country.
"NVT evaluates more than 550 near-release or released varieties each year, generating highly valuable comparisons for variety agronomic performance, grain yields, disease and pest resistance and physical grain quality traits," Mr Coffey says.
"NVT accepts lines into the program for testing two years prior to their commercial release.
"This ensures sufficient data is available for growers on newly released varieties to make informed variety selection decisions."
Data analysis for NVT is conducted by a team of statisticians through the GRDC's Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry (SAGI) program.
Developing the trial program
Mr Coffey says several new initiatives and features are being rolled-out to enhance the NVT program and its value to the nation's growers.
"We will soon be launching NVT Harvest Reports to further support growers and advisers with variety decision-making," he says.
"The 16 regionalised reports, covering the entire NVT network of trials, will provide the very latest independent varietal information on yield, quality and disease ratings - and they are designed to complement the GRDC-supported state-based Sowing Guides, which are published prior to harvest.
"We are also finalising our trial service providers for the next four years, have updated and improved the trial protocols to ensure we optimise the outcomes from our trials program, and our investment in the provision of plant pathology information has been contracted for another five years to underpin a standardised national disease resistance rating system."
Mr Coffey, who features in a video about NVT (see below), also thanked the many trial co-operators (landholders) across the country who continue to support the NVT program by allowing trials to be conducted on their properties.
More Information: Rob Wheeler, GRDC NVT Regional Manager, 0401 148 935; Sean Coffey, GRDC NVT Senior Manager, 0428 652 226.