Final Reports

The subject matter of the reports presented here may have been revisited or may have been wholly or partially superseded in subsequent work funded by GRDC or others. Please check the date of publication and refer to our Policy section before making any decisions based on the content of these reports. Before being able to view any of the Final Reports, you will be asked to accept the Report Disclaimer.

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129 results found (Displaying 1 - 20)
  • Ascochyta and botrytis management in lentils with pre and post emergent fungicides

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: William Long (Director)

    This project has played a significant role in changing fungicide use in lentils. Growers have reduced fungicide applications from five to six applications in good seasons to two strategically timed applications. In addition, the importance of canopy development and density and influence of seasonal conditions on the development of botrytis is more clearly understood. This results in fewer or no applications in dry seasons. The project has also identified more effective fungicides for control of botrytis and ascochyta than the previously accepted mancozeb# treatments. Procymidone# and carbendazim# are now the standard products used for botrytis control while mancozeb and chlorothalonil# are standard for ascochyta.

  • IWM as a tool to prevent herbicide resistance becoming an impediment to sustainable farming systems

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: William (Bill) Roy (Managing Director/Research Scientist)

    The increasing use of herbicide inputs over the past 20 years in Western Australia has seen a significant proportion of the wheatbelt cropping program become heavily dependant on these materials. This has led to intense selection pressure and the development of herbicide resistance in weeds, most notably in annual ryegrass. In many cases the resistance which now occurs is to a range of herbicide options thus limiting the opportunity to "overcome" the problem by simply rotating herbicides. Integrated weed management (IWM) programs provide the opportunity to counter this development but at the same time these must be economically viable to fit within sustainable farming systems.

    Project Aims

    To examine the value of integrated weed management programs as a means of combating herbicide resistant ryegrass and to extend the results to the farming industry.

  • IWM as a tool to prevent herbicide resistance becoming an impediment to sustainable farming

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: William (Bill) Roy (Managing Director/Research Scientist)

    With herbicide resistant ryegrass threatening to engulf the Western Australian (WA) wheat industry, a project was started in 1997 to demonstrate the feasibility of using options other than selective herbicides to combat this problem and provide for profitable cropping.

    The project demonstrated that provided resistant ryegrass numbers are reduced to low levels, sustained periods of profitable cropping (to wheat) can be maintained without the use of the selective herbicides. The profits generated by the successful programs were derived after including the cost of the remedial treatments required for ryegrass control.

  • Releasing agricultural weed seed dormancy through application of a novel smoke derived chemical

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Dr Kingsley Dixon

    Weed herbicide resistance is prevalent throughout large areas of Australia's crop growing regions. Inefficient use of herbicides has developed due to a poor understanding of weed seedbank dynamics and seed biology, particularly seed dormancy. This project focussed on stimulating weed seed germination through the use of a recently identified novel compound (a karrikinolide), which may provide the key to unlocking dormancy cycling in weed seedbanks in agricultural regions. This will have a profound effect on herbicide practices and weed control. Karrikinolide is the master molecule residing in bushfire smoke that stimulates germination. It had a broad target range (seven species) and appeared to be field stable at low application rates (of 2 - 20 g/ha), making it applicable for broad acre usage.

  • Improved techniques for managing resistant ryegrass

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Harm van Rees (BCG Technical Consultant)

    The 'Improved techniques for managing resistant ryegrass' project was in four parts:

    1. Conducting trial work with the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) based at Birchip in Victoria, and the Hart Field Day group, based in South Australia’s Mid-North, concentrated on (i) optimising knockdown herbicide use; (ii) pre-emergent herbicides for ryegrass control; and (iii) improving 'dim' group herbicide efficacy.
    2. Studying ryegrass population dynamics in relation to crop rotation and herbicide choice.
    3. Undertaking four case studies of farmers who have successfully managed herbicide resistance.
    4. Training and in paddock assessment.

    The trial work in the project was successfully completed and reported in the BCG and Hart manuals produced for members and the general community. A Herbicide Resistance Manual has been completed and distributed to interested farmers and industry.

  • Genetically Modified Canola Agronomy

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: David Chamberlin (CEO)

    This project increased the knowledge and skills of growers and advisers in the southern grains region in the key area of Genetically Modified Canola Agronomy (GMCA). The southern grains region, including the Victorian Wimmera and Mallee regions, was the key target area of delivery, linking in with other established networks. This project contributed to growers adopting best practice specifically related to GM canola technology use.

  • On farm evaluation of frost minimisation techniques and risk management strategies

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Garren Knell (Agricultural consultant)

    Farm scale research in participation with local grower groups in WA's southern grain production region was undertaken to evaluate a range of frost minimisation techniques. The trials were replicated and sown with farmer machinery.

    ConsultAg, in conjunction with SARDI, published a manual titled "Managing Frost Risk - A Guide for Southern Australian Grains".

    This is a comprehensive decision aid for growers to assist with all aspects of frost management including:

    • Frost minimisation options and economics, backed up by trial data
    • Identifying frost damage in cereal crops
    • Management options for frost damaged crops and economics
    • Recovering from frost - impacts on business and people

  • Farming systems improvement in the Upper North of South Australia

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Michael Wurst (Project Leader)

    Increased grower skills and confidence through capacity building have resulted in best management practices being applied to farming systems. This has been achieved by the

    • development of risk management strategies to increase efficiency of integration between livestock and cropping systems e.g. improved grazing management and pasture species evaluation
    • identification of the role of livestock as a risk management tool in adverse seasons
    • development of profitable and sustainable farming systems through the prioritisation areas of risk and the development of strategies to manage these risks
    • increased knowledge of improved cropping practices to reduce soil erosion and enable better targeting of cropping inputs.

  • Province, paddock or patch? Giving farmers tools to optimise the scale at which fertiliser decisions are made

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Michael Robertson (Principal Research Scientist)

    This project developed methods for matching fertiliser applications to crop nutrient requirements, based on simple tools that integrate effects of soils and weather and their variation in properties over space and seasons.

    They include:(1) a modified version of French and Schultz method to estimate crop yield potential accounting for soil type, (2) field and lab-based methods for estimating soil plant-available water capacity (PAWC), (3) frameworks for relating PAWC to potential yield and hence economic optimum nutrient requirements. We applied these tools to two case study catchments in Western Australia (WA) and showed that by taking account of soil type and seasonal influences on crop yield potential, gains of $2-40/ha are possible.

  • Training growers to manage soil water

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Neal Dalgliesh (Farming Systems Researcher)

    Whilst managing the water balance of crops is one of the most critical issues in Australian dryland agriculture, there has been limited information available to farm managers that allows the productive capacity of soils to be considered when making crop management decisions. This project aimed to provide training opportunities for farm managers to improve their understanding of soil water management and to develop tools for its measurement. Over 800 growers and consultants have undertaken training nationally with more than 500 soils now available in the APSoil database for use in general agronomic decision making and as input to decision support tools such as APSIM and Yield Prophet®.

  • More Good, less Bad and Ugly - Extracting additional value from grain production through selective harvesting

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Rob Bramley (Principal Research Scientist)

    In collaboration with three leading adopters of Precision Agriculture (PA) technologies and using commercially available protein sensors, the project team sought to prove the concept of 'selective harvesting' for grains. The objective was to observe whether segregating the crop at harvest could potentially better enable growers to achieve the price premiums that are available, in this case for malting barley. A lack of robustness in the protein sensors resulted in failure to prove the selective harvesting concept, although it was also not disproven. However, useful insights were gained in remote and proximal crop sensing, the use of 'nitrogen (N)-rich strips' for refining fertiliser management and on-farm research.

  • Developing low-risk production strategies for maize in dryland farming

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Michael Robertson (Principal Research Scientist)

    The project aims were

    1. Development and testing of strategies to minimise production risk for maize through use of appropriate hybrid maturity, skip rows and plant population density, together with starting soil water, seasonal climate outlook and hence, yield expectation.
    2. Participatory on-farm research with maize growers exploring options for use of maize in the northern region.
    3. Assess opportunities for dryland maize in different regions through simulations and risk analyses.

  • Practical synergism of fumigant action: ethyl formate and carbon dioxide

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Victoria Haritos (Principal Research Scientist)

    The increasing incidence in the detection of phosphine# resistance in stored grain insects and the phase out of other fumigant options have left grain storers with few alternatives to phosphine for low residue insect control. This project aimed to develop a fumigant product using ethyl formate# and carbon dioxide through research into insect mortality, residue breakdown, safe application technology to grain silos and the potential development of resistance. The data generated in this project will be used by BOC Ltd to update its new Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) registration for Vapormate™# within the next six months for its use as a rapid-acting fumigant for farm grain storages.

  • Risk analysis for biosecurity of the grains industry

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Mark Lonsdale (Chief)

    The development of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and with it a growing emphasis in global agricultural trade on scientific justification for quarantine measures, has meant that biosecurity risk analysis will become an increasingly significant issue for Australia. The project has tackled some specific issues in plant biosecurity. It has developed a more efficient framework for risk assessment of incoming plants, correcting for bias and uncertainty and highlighted the lack of congruence between the identity of pest species intercepted at the Australian border and those species establishing in the field.

    It has also estimated the number of future weeds likely to emerge from species currently in Australian backyards.

  • Insecticide resistance and sustainable management of aphids

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Owain Edwards (Senior Research Scientist)

    Virtually all green peach aphids (GPA) collected across Australia had the E4 resistance mechanism to organophosphate (OP) insecticides and a large proportion also had knockdown resistance (kdr) to synthetic pyrethroids. No aphids were collected with MACE resistance to carbamate insecticides, including pirimicarb# - the insecticide widely recommended for GPA control in Australia. There was also no evidence of imidacloprid# resistance in Australian GPA. Border treatments were effective in reducing aphid immigration and virus transmission into canola paddocks from nearby sources, but further study is necessary to determine the effects on aphids arriving from longer distances.

  • Phosphine resistance initiative

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Colin Waterford (Deputy Head, Stored Grain Research Laboratory)

    An industry workshop was held to determine the demand for a national strategy for phosphine# resistance and to define a mechanism to establish such a strategy.

    A steering committee of representatives from industry, research and GRDC developed the program and invitation list. The two-day workshop was held in Canberra during May 2005. Day One consisted of presentations followed by group discussions on economic impact, current knowledge and extension programs. During the second day, the workshop focussed on defining research and extension priorities and mapping a path towards a national strategy.


  • Harnessing soil microbial processes to get maximum value from stubble retention in different cropping regions

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Gupta Vadakattu (Senior Research Scientist)

    Stubble retention can provide benefits through changes in soil physical, chemical and biological properties. The effects of type of stubble management and tillage on microbial groups and biological processes related to carbon (C) turnover and biological fertility were quantified in field and glasshouse experiments on two soil types in South Australia. The magnitude and nature of change in biological functions varied due to stubble management and was dependent upon soil type and environmental factors. Intensive tillage, even with stubble retention, reduced the biological resilience in both soils. Evidence for soil type based differences in the genetic diversity of bacteria in field soils was established.

  • Insecticide resistance and sustainable management of aphids

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Owain Edwards (Principal Research Scientist)

    Insecticide resistance was found only in the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae. All aphids were moderately to highly resistant to organophosphate (OP) insecticides, while approximately half of aphids tested were at least partially resistant to pyrethroids. The mechanism conferring resistance to carbamates was not detected, therefore this insecticide class should remain effective against this aphid pest. Preliminary data has shown that a 20 metre (m) border spray on the crop edge is sufficient to prevent most aphids released adjacent to a wheat crop from successfully colonising the crop. This promising result is forming the basis for additional research which will also determine the effects on aphid-transmitted viruses.

  • Premium Grains for Livestock Program 2: Component 5. Modelling feed grain utilisation by feedlot cattle

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Barry Nagorcka (Senior Principal Research Scientist)

    Component 5 of the Premium Grains for Livestock Program (PGLP) developed a decision support tool (DST), based on a detailed mechanistic model of a ruminant, capable of calculating the economic value of a particular batch of grain available for purchase for use in cattle feedlots. The batch was chosen from a range of cultivars and grain types. The DST used only inputs that can be measured by fast cheap methods such as a near infra-red (NIR) spectrum of the grain. The DST is user-friendly and able to be used by cattle feedlot managers and consultants, and by feed grain suppliers.

  • SIP09 Precision Agriculture Initiative. Unlocking the benefits of Precision Agriculture for farm profits and the environment

    Category: FinalReport


    Supervisor: Michael Robertson (Principal Research Scientist)

    Although Precision Agriculture (PA) technology has been available in Australia for more than a decade, it has been estimated that only about 3% of Australian grain growers are using a form of this technology. One of the main reasons for low adoption of PA is the reluctance of farmers to invest many thousands of dollars in PA without knowing if the technology will return a profit. This project quantified the benefits of PA to growers on the northern sandplains of Western Australia (WA) through detailed analysis of spatial variation in crop yield and its causes on focus paddocks. Soil characterisation, remote sensing, crop and soil modelling and economic analysis were used to develop guidelines for growers and their advisers.