The week that was: Sunday, January 5 to Saturday, January 11

The week that was: Sunday, January 5 to Saturday, January 11

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We take a look back at some of your most-read GroundCover stories from the past week.

As the new year started to roll-out, there was plenty happening across the Australian grains industry during this past week.

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Here, GroundCover online takes a look back at some of the popular and topical stories you were reading from Sunday, January 5 to Saturday, January 11.

Action learning aids in soil constraint management

For growers in the northern region, soil constraints such as sodicity, acidity and salinity are a very real problem. In this region soil sodicity affects 8.1 million hectares and costs growers about $433 million per year, while acidity affects 1.5 million hectares and costs growers $61 million a year and salinity affects 2.6 million hectares and costs growers $47 million.

FIGURE 1 Map of ALG locations. SOURCE DAF

FIGURE 1 Map of ALG locations. SOURCE DAF

Actionlearning groups (ALGs) led by Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and NSW's Department of Primary Industries (DPI) are being run as part of a multi-agency GRDC-invested project, 'The economics of ameliorating soil constraints in the northern region', to address these issues.

Formed in March 2018 around six research sites - Parkes, Armatree and Spring Ridge in NSW, and Millmerran, Meandarra and Talwood in Queensland (Figure 1) - the first round of ALG activities focused on results from grower paddocks sampled in each region.

Thirty paddocks were sampled for standard physical and chemical components and electrical conductivity and elevation maps were taken and analysed by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and University of New England (UNE). Individual reports were developed for each paddock by USQ and these formed the basis of the initial action learning. Read the full story here.

Mechanical chipper added to weeds arsenal

The six-metre-wide pre-commercial prototype mechanical weed chipper will be trialled by growers over summer. PHOTO UWA

The six-metre-wide pre-commercial prototype mechanical weed chipper will be trialled by growers over summer. PHOTO UWA

A new mechanical weeding machine may help change the face of fallow weed control across Australia's broadacre grains industry.

The Weed Chipper, developed by agricultural engineers and researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the University of Sydney, may be the next answer in the fight against herbicide-resistant weeds.

The machine has been designed using a cultivator bar where tynes are raised above the ground in a standby position, ready to chip the weeds out of the ground the moment they are detected with weed-sensing technology.

This simple, yet groundbreaking, technology will allow grain growers to control weeds in summer and winter fallows with greater flexibility for use in situations that restrict the use of herbicide treatments, such as wind, humidity, heat and resistance. Read the full story here.

GRDC-invested NVT assists growers to optimise cropping profitability

Wheat and barley National Variety Trials at Walgett. PHOTO GRDC

Wheat and barley National Variety Trials at Walgett. PHOTO GRDC

Sound information is fundamental to making decisions, especially when it comes to grain growers' annual cropping programs.

In addition to decisions around inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals, crop and variety selections appropriate for each growing environment are vital in optimising a cropping system's profitability. It is for this important reason that GRDC established the National Variety Trials (NVT) program in 2005.

The investment in NVT was also partly driven by the increasing commercial focus of plant breeding programs in Australia, with the NVT developed to complement these programs and provide growers with independently verified variety information.

Comparative variety testing had been carried out previously by state departments of agriculture, but industry changes provided an opportunity to initiate a nationwide evaluation service based on agreed protocols for the national collection of standardised trial data in a single database.

The NVT is a voluntary service to which all plant breeders around Australia are invited to submit seed for testing. Testing is carried out mainly on growers' properties, which provide regionally representative conditions.

Lines and varieties are ranked by performance and are available for growers and advisers through an interactive web tool (www.nvtonline.com.au) and state-based sowing guides. Read the full story here.

Research excellence reward for barley breeder

Barley geneticist Professor Chengdao Li received the 2019 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research. PHOTO GRDC

Barley geneticist Professor Chengdao Li received the 2019 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research. PHOTO GRDC

The contribution made by pre-breeders to the grains industry was recognised by the recent Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, with barley geneticist Professor Chengdao Li receiving the 2019 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.

Professor Li is likely most familiar to the grains industry through his contributions towards breeding profitable barley varieties, such as Baudin (PBR), Hamelin (PBR), Vlamingh (PBR), Roe (PBR), Hannan (PBR), Lockyer (PBR) and Litmus (PBR).

This work has had a high impact, with Baudin (PBR) transforming the Australian barley industry and Vlamingh (PBR) increasing profitability for some growers by $40 per hectare.

Based at Murdoch University in Western Australia, where he is director of the Western Barley Genetics Alliance, Professor Li has been the recipient of five GRDC investments to advance trait discovery research that is geared to overcoming constraints to barley cultivation and profitability.

He has demonstrated a particular flair for converting the analysis of biodiverse barley germplasm (undertaken in paddock-relevant field trials) into genetic discoveries and tools that make selecting for important yield, grain quality and malting traits vastly more efficient. Read the full story here.

GRDC events to kick-start 2020 South Australia cropping season

Registrations are now open for Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Update events to be held in South Australia in early 2020.

GRDC Grains Research Updates - designed to inform grain growers' decision making leading into the next cropping season, and beyond - have been scheduled for February.

Information, insights and advice to be presented at the Updates have the potential to underpin improved agronomic practices for increased profitability, according to GRDC Grower Relations Manager - South, Courtney Ramsey.

"The GRDC Grains Research Updates will each feature a line-up of expert speakers who will deliver the latest findings from GRDC research investments which have relevance to and implications for the State's growers," Ms Ramsey says.

For further information and to register for the Updates in SA - and those scheduled for other regions - please visit https://grdc.com.au/events/list or phone ORM on 03 5441 6176 or email admin@orm.com.au.

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