The Tactical break crop agronomy project is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). It is a five year project and trials were started in 2013. The purpose of the project is to improve the agronomy in break crops. Currently, the trials are focused on canola, since it is the most widely grown break crop.
Canola is grown throughout all rainfall zones and is in an expansion phase in low to medium rainfall zones, as a wider range of adapted varieties become available and canola maintains its competitive price advantage over other options. As the area sown to canola expands into new areas, there is a large knowledge gap in terms of basic canola agronomy such as density, nitrogen rate and timing, seed system choice (open pollinated or hybrid) and herbicide system choice. In high rainfall areas, canola is being grown in very tight rotations and blackleg management and variety choice are becoming a focus of industry concern.
The project target is for WA growers to have the tools to choose and profitably manage the most appropriate break crop for their circumstances.
The tactical break crop agronomy project has a large research component. Trial work began in 2013. There are more than 25 trials across the grainbelt, each year.
Key research themes are:
- Canola plant density (go to canola plant density trials list)
- Canola nitrogen fertiliser (go to canola nitrogen trials list)
- Other canola agronomy trials (go to other canola agronomy trials list)
Canola information, produced through the tactical break crop agronomy project, includes;
- Canola variety guide
- Canola seeding rate calculator
- Canola seeding rate information
- 2014 Crop Update paper; Plant density of canola in the low and medium rainfall regions of Western Australia. (see 'external links' at right hand side of screen)
- 2015 Crop Update paper; Timing of nitrogen for canola in lower rainfall areas in WA (see External links).
- 2016 Research Update paper; Open pollinated canola still a better option than hybrid or retained hybrid seed in low rainfall areas (see External links).
The Tactical break crop agronomy project is led by Mark Seymour (Esperance). The research staff are Raj Malik (Katanning), Martin Harries (Geraldton), Bob French and Sally Sprigg (both at Merredin). Jackie Bucat (South Perth) is the Development Officer with the project. Key technical staff are Pam Burgess, Stephanie Boyce, Joanne Walker and Laurie Maiolo.