Key lessons from the GRDC's Stubble Initiative

Grower groups central to developing stubble management guidelines

Agronomy
Southern region grain growers have access to management guidelines for profitable stubble retention systems stemming from a five-year, GRDC-invested research program. PHOTO GRDC

Southern region grain growers have access to management guidelines for profitable stubble retention systems stemming from a five-year, GRDC-invested research program. PHOTO GRDC

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Stubble Initiative provides guidelines for optimising profits in the southern region.

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A five-year research program focused on the management of stubbles in southern farming systems has generated a wealth of regional guidelines to support growers in their efforts to maintain profitability while retaining stubbles.

The GRDC's Stubble Initiative, conducted from 2014 to 2018, was initiated following a comprehensive gap analysis which identified the need for stubble management guidelines for growers in the southern cropping region.

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Several farming groups worked on locally-relevant issues and contributed to coordinated research, managed by CSIRO, and extension, managed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), to develop the regional guidelines.

The farming systems groups involved were:

  • Birchip Cropping Group (BCG);
  • Central West Farming Systems (CWFS);
  • Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation (EPARF);
  • FarmLink Research;
  • Hart Field-Site Group;
  • Irrigated Cropping Council (ICC);
  • Southern Farming Systems (SFS);
  • Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association (LEADA);
  • MacKillop Farm Management Group (MFMG);
  • Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF);
  • Riverine Plains;
  • Upper North Farming Systems (UNFS);
  • Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group (YPASG);
  • Victorian No Till Farmers Association Inc (VNTFA);
  • Mid North High Rainfall Zone Group (MNHRZ); and
  • Yeruga Crop Research.

Regional guidelines and a range of other detailed extension materials have been produced and communicated throughout the duration of the initiative and beyond.

This information is available through the farming systems groups involved and on the GRDC website, which features a dedicated Stubble Initiative web page.

One of the Stubble Initiative's lead researchers, John Kirkegaard, of CSIRO, has been presenting key findings from the research program at 2019 GRDC Grains Research Updates.

Dr Kirkegaard says that, in summary, growers need to be flexible and pro-actively manage stubbles in accordance with their individual seeding systems.

"Diversification of crops and practices is the platform for farming profitably with stubble, and a critical threshold of two to three tonnes of stubble per hectare provides most of the benefit," he says.

Dr Kirkegaard's 2019 GRDC Grains Research Updates paperhas more detail about the key findings from the Stubble Initiative.

More information: John Kirkegaard, CSIRO Agriculture and Food, 0458 354630, john.kirkegaard@csiro.au

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