GRDC looks into research for profitability

Research: Glenn McDonald, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, left, with GRDC Manager of Systems and Agronomy – South, Andrew Etherton. Dr McDonald says new GRDC research aims to help growers improve sowing practices and increase crop establishment rates. Photo: GRDC.

Research: Glenn McDonald, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, left, with GRDC Manager of Systems and Agronomy – South, Andrew Etherton. Dr McDonald says new GRDC research aims to help growers improve sowing practices and increase crop establishment rates. Photo: GRDC.

New research aims to increase the profitability of growers in Australia’s southern and western grain producing areas by providing them with knowledge about how to optimise the establishment of their crops.

Grains Research and Development Corporation is investing almost $2 million in the project, and co-investment from the University of Adelaide, farming systems groups and growers will total $1.9 million over four years.

The purpose of this investment is to help growers improve sowing practices and increase crop establishment rates.

Research is being led by the University of Adelaide, with the Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association coordinating the WA component of the project.

The research team also includes farming systems groups. In the southern region these are the Hart Field-Site Group, Northern Sustainable Soils, the Birchip Cropping Group, Southern Farming Systems and the University of South Australia.

University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Associate Professor and project leader Dr Glenn McDonald said the project aimed to improve crop establishment and decrease seed costs associated with the use of conventional air-seeders for canola, lentil and faba bean in the southern region, and canola, wheat and lupin in the western region.

“Research outcomes will also enable growers to consider the costs and benefits of precision seeding technology (or precision planters), which are designed to reduce seed costs and lift crop yields by sowing in a uniform pattern,” Dr McDonald said.

Dr McDonald said initial work would include a survey to determine typical rates of crop establishment achieved by growers using conventional air seeder systems, and a survey of all growers in the regions testing precision planters.

Information from the surveys would include relevant details about farmers seeder set-ups, perceptions of challenges and successes of this technology. Dr McDonald said information generated through the project could provide spill-over benefits to the improved establishment of additional grain crops not specifically studied in the project.