Bike tour puts new spin on farm visits

WA’s first ADAMA Australia motorbike crop trial tours


Grower Groups
Tour members at the base of Bluff Knoll on the Adama Crop Tour. PHOTO: Adama

Tour members at the base of Bluff Knoll on the Adama Crop Tour. PHOTO: Adama

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Growers from Esperance to Badgingarra ride across the Great Southern and south coast regions.

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The traditional spring crop tour received a facelift in late 2018 when a group of Western Australian growers and advisers wheeled out their road bikes to be part of WA’s first ADAMA Australia Motorbike Crop Trial Tours.

Growers from Esperance to Badgingarra joined the unique event, riding across the Great Southern and south coast regions to witness firsthand the results of critical research projects across the state.

According to ADAMA Australia market development manager Bevan Addison, the response from growers to the unusual tour was outstanding. “We had 20 motorbikes and a number of support cars, and everyone had a fantastic time travelling around the southern grain region, learning about research projects at the same time,” Mr Addison says.

Broomehill grower Craig Bignell talks to the group about his soil amelioration activities, which are part of a GRDC-invested Southern Dirt trial. PHOTO: Adama

Broomehill grower Craig Bignell talks to the group about his soil amelioration activities, which are part of a GRDC-invested Southern Dirt trial. PHOTO: Adama

Interest came from growers as far away as Queensland, who Mr Addison says have already put their names down for the next tour.

“The tour highlighted a range of research projects into crop disease, weed control and growth regulators, as well as grain varieties, soil amelioration, nutrition and sowing systems,” Mr Addison says.

The tour highlighted a range of research projects into crop disease, weed control and growth regulators, as well as grain varieties, soil amelioration, nutrition and sowing systems. - Bevan Addison

“We blended the crop tours with camping, wine tasting, campfire ballads and a ride up and down Bluff Knoll.”

The group began their three-day spring tour in Broomehill, visiting trials in Kojonup, Boyup Brook, Jingalup, Frankland and Kendenup.

In Broomehill, the group looked at GRDC-invested soil amelioration trials comparing a range of amelioration treatments, including the Plozza Plow, an Ausplow, mouldboard ploughing, and combinations of ploughing on grey shallow sandy duplex soils. This trial is part of a group of GRDC-invested soil amelioration trials in the Albany port zone.

In Kojonup, the group visited a GRDC-invested large-scale fertiliser trial, which is one of six trials managed by CSBP as part of the GRDC Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium project. The project is aimed at helping growers improve their fertiliser application decisions.

The trial, which is a collaboration between CSBP, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, CSIRO and various universities and industry groups – with Southern Dirt as the extension partner – is on a forest gravel soil site.

According to CSBP senior agronomist James Easton, the trial is investigating the impact of phosphorus application rates at zero, five, 10, 20 and 40 kilograms per hectare, with early observations showing responses to the highest rate of phosphorus earlier in the season.

“The project is also comparing alternative soil tests (such as DGT-P) and soil sampling strategies to current methods,” Mr Easton says.

This is the first year of the four-year project, with harvest results available in coming months.

A trial of faba beans in Jingalup is investigating fungicide options including older multi-site, contact-style products such as mancozeb, as well as newer translocated products, to protect faba beans from diseases such as ascochyta blight.

Mr Addison says the growers and agronomists looking for rotational options were interested in the success of this trial, given the impact of disease on this crop in the past.

“Timely spraying of disease was difficult in the past in the Great Southern; however, now with more growers having their own, high-lift self-propelled booms, the ability to spray quality products in a timely fashion is much easier,’’ he says.

He says the trial demonstrated that faba beans needed to be sprayed three to four times depending on the season and the amount of the crop grown locally.

“The more beans grown in an area, the greater the environmental inoculum level and, hence, the greater the disease risk.”

Under this multi-spray scenario, Mr Addison says it is important growers rotate fungicide products with a different chemical activity group to prevent overuse of any one product or activity group.

Following the success of the tour, ADAMA Australia is already planning to hold another event in WA later in the year.

  • More Information: Bevan Addison via bevan.addison@adama.com

GRDC Research Code: uwa1801-002rtx

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