WA growers heard during GRDC Panel tours

Western Australia growers heard during GRDC Western Region Panel tours to two cropping regions

Farm Business
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Feedback from cropping regions will help shape GRDC research investments.

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Feedback from recent conversations held in the field with Western Australian grain growers will help shape Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) research investments.

GRDC Western Region Panel members and staff this year toured two WA cropping regions - areas in the Geraldton port zone in July and the Upper Great Southern and Great Southern in September.

GRDC Western Region Panel chair and Mingenew grower Darrin Lee, who participated in the tour of southern cropping areas, said informative and open discussions were held with growers, which highlighted valuable information including gaps for potential further research, development and extension (RD&E) investment.

"In addition to western region GRDC personnel, it was fantastic to have a GRDC Southern Region Panel member and Canberra staff present - so that they could better understand growers' constraints and get a deeper knowledge of WA farming systems - including inherent issues with weather variability and frost," Mr Lee said.

Tincurrin grower Gordon McDougall, left, of Tincurrin, GRDC Western Region Panel chair and Mingenew grower Darrin Lee, and Dumbleyung grower Jamie Dare.Photo: GRDC

Tincurrin grower Gordon McDougall, left, of Tincurrin, GRDC Western Region Panel chair and Mingenew grower Darrin Lee, and Dumbleyung grower Jamie Dare.Photo: GRDC

"GRDC representatives with significant scientific expertise - such as GRDC Western Region Panel member and CSIRO research geneticist Greg Rebetzke, and Pip Wilson, GRDC's wheat, genetic technologies manager, were on hand to help answer grower questions and to take on board their feedback.

"The conversations were very much two-way, and the GRDC delegates gained a greater appreciation of the real, relative, hit-the-ground nature of what growers are dealing with on an everyday basis.

"While we always welcome comments about how the GRDC could do better, it was encouraging to receive positive and constructive feedback from growers we engaged with.

"We also encourage growers to contact the Perth GRDC office (08 9230 4600) if they have feedback or ideas about where they think there should be increased investment."

Mr Lee said growers interested in the future direction of GRDC investment could visit the GRDC website to look at details of 'Key Investment Targets' (KITs) developed as part of the organisation's five-year RD&E Plan launched last year.

"Since the launch of the plan, the GRDC has been developing strategies for KITs, and 15 of the 30 KIT strategy summaries are now available on the GRDC website.

"Frost, for example, is a high priority in the RD&E Plan and the frost KIT is aimed at helping growers in frost-prone areas manage their farm businesses to minimise the impact of frost on yield and profit."

Alex Reid, left, of Rabobank, Narrogin, and GRDC grower relations manager west, Curtis Liebeck. Photo by GRDC.

Alex Reid, left, of Rabobank, Narrogin, and GRDC grower relations manager west, Curtis Liebeck. Photo by GRDC.

During the Panel tour in the Upper Great Southern and Great Southern regions, issues raised included the need for more herbicide options and agronomy packages for oats; non-wetting soils; nitrogen timing and rates; prescription pH mapping in paddocks; harvest weed seed control; sub-surface drainage; research for mixed farming systems; longer season crops for grazing; root lesion nematodes; sclerotinia in canola; the need for more profitable legumes; dry seeding information; variable rate technology; frost tolerance in wheat; the image of farming; the need for agronomic information relating to increasingly tight rotations that have an increased reliance on barley; and the use of the 'Reefinator' to increase the productivity of rocky country.

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Issues raised by growers visited in the earlier Geraldton port zone tour included the desire for information about nutrition and herbicide efficacy following soil amelioration; herbicide resistance; liming; the need for fast maturing wheats; improved pastures or legumes for low rainfall areas; time of sowing information; soil health; brome grass; soil compaction; the need for improved and more reliable rotation crops; social licence to operate concerns; weather forecasting; blue lupins; lupin harvest loss issues; low protein in wheat; time of sowing and seeding rates for variable seasons; sclerotinia in lupins; and issues relating to crop rotations.

The GRDC Western Region Panel comprises Panel chair Darrin Lee, a Mingenew grower; deputy Panel chair and Merredin grower Jules Alvaro; Juliet McDonald, of Marchagee; Fiona Dempster, of Mingenew; Rohan Ford, of Binnu; Gemma Walker, of Munglinup; Andy Duncan, of West River; Greg Rebetzke, of Canberra; and Michael Lamond, of York.

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