Regional research agronomy project

Page last updated: Thursday, 7 May 2020 - 11:22am

'Regional Research Agronomy' is the abbreviated working title for the 'Building crop protection and crop production agronomy research and development capacity in regional Western Australia' project (DAW00256). This project is a five year co-investment by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).


This five-year project, that commenced in 2016, is designed to:

  • Develop the skills of recent entrants to the grains industry while they undertake regionally-based research, development and extension activities
  • Support, develop, and/or deliver locally relevant research,development and extension that address priority grain production issues.
  • Address difficulties with delivery of on-ground activities from large nationwide projects.

The project has established teams consisting of two regional agronomists within each of the five Western Australian port zones of Kwinana West, Geraldton, Kwinana East, Albany and Esperance.

The teams work closely with a range of industry support networks such as the GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSN), grower groups, agribusiness and other research providers to assist in the identification, prioritisation and addressing of the key industry challenges in their regions.

Two people crouching in paddock stubble using instrument to measure soil moisture in in a furrow
Measuring soil moisture in inclusion furrow treatment at Kalanie local lime sources trial 

2020 focus for project activities

In 2020, the project team is undertaking a range of research, development and extension activities addressing priority issues identified through consultation with growers, researchers and agribusiness to deliver value to growers in each port zone.  Various activities involve regional value-adding to other larger research and extension projects with grower groups and DPIRD. Field-based and case study activities include continued monitoring of a series of grower-managed focus paddocks, established in 2016, to investigate priority crop protection and crop production issues, as well as trials and demonstrations (see table below). 

Key crop protection and production issues being investigated through field-based activities in each port zone
Port zone Focus issue for activities
Albany Monitoring small conical snails activity; break crops for managing root lesion nematodes (RLN); harvest weed seed control (HWSC) of radish; reefinator evaluation;  legumes in the farming system; potential yield of canola in high rainfall 

Seasonal snail movement;  high value pulses in rotational cropping systems trial; monitoring deep ripping at depth; nitrogen management for wheat protein in changing farming systems; faba bean herbicide options

Kwinana East Cost-effectiveness of local lime sources; soil-borne disease management; subsoil constraints management; matricaria in pasture; crop sequencing post renovation; 
Geraldton Long term integrated weed management; RLN after pasture 
2 people kneeling in wheat stubble looking for emerging break crops
Checking Esperance break crop trial for plant emergence, May 2019

Crop protection-specific activities

Existing crop protection threat alert systems continue to be identified and reviewed to assist development of crop protection threat maps. 

Sampling wheat crop for crown rot at Merredin in October 2016
Sampling wheat for crown rot at Merredin in October 2016

Specific crop protection activities the regional agronomists have conducted include:

  • Annual regional intelligence on presence or absence of green bridge; where green bridge occurs the team provides on-ground surveillance and reporting of pests and disease.
  • 2018 Oat disease survey of Kwinana West port zone. Information gathered complemented and supported work undertaken by  the National Hay Agonomy project's  pathology surveillance program in 2018.  
  • 2017 Summer weed time of removal trials at Gairdner, Moorine Rock and Beacon, Neridup and Jerramungup. All sites that went to harvest showed increased yields where weeds were removed earlier, although the yield advantage was only significant at Moorine Rock in 2017. For an overview of all the trials refer to 2017 Summer weed time of removal trials.  
  • 2017 Eastern wheatbelt root disease survey. Results  are summarised in the 2018 GRDC Research Updates paper - Characterising soil borne disease risk in the eastern wheat belt of Western Australia and national significance of major diseases.
  • 2017-18 Decision support tools review. A range of crop protection decision support tools available to Australian crop producers and industry were identified and reviewed by the project team. Through surveys of growers and consultants, the usefulness of these tools through the growing season was evaluated and gaps and opportunities identified to assist in informing future investment into crop protection decision support tools. protection decision support tools.

Two women standing at a DPIRD grains research display at the Albany Show
Promoting grains research and use of the iLime app at the Albany Show 2019

Publications from RRA activities

The project has also been involved in a wide range of other regional priority-aligned project activities in collaboration with grower groups and/or other research projects. Selected publications resulting from these activities are listed below:

Publications from regional priority-aligned project activities
Port zone Activity and publication
Albany Image analysis of snail density to generate bait prescription maps - refer to 2018 GRDC Research Updates: Image analysis of slugs and snails in broadacre agriculture
Albany Chemical control of snails refer to page 11, Stirling to Coast Farmers' Snail Management Guide for WA Farmers
Albany Can a change in nitrogen reduce plant parasitic nematodes (Pratylenchus quasitereoides) in Western Australian wheat crops? Refer to page 11, Proceedings 10th Australasian Soilborne Diseases Symposium, 2018 
Albany Yield benefits and economics of crushing sheet laterite soils. Refer to 2019 GRDC Grains Research Updates: Yield benefits and economics of crushing sheet laterite soils
Geraldton Integrated Weed Management of ryegrass

– grower focus paddocks.  Refer to Integrated weed management maintains very low weed levels for more than a decade

Geraldton Pastures in the cropping system. Refer to 2019 GRDC Grains Research Updates: Growing wheat and barley after serradella, does extra nitrogen help? 

Geraldton, Kwinana West,  Albany

A multifaceted approach to sclerotinia management in season - petal testing, apps, remote sclerote monitoring for apothecia and spray trials.  Refer to 2019 GRDC Grains Research Updates: Validating the SclerotiniaCM App For Managing Sclerotinia In Canola
Kwinana West, Albany Profitable break crops in rotation with cereals (wheat) for growers with RLN and R. solani in the same paddock. Refer to 2020 GRDC Research Updates:"Give me a break!” – Options for paddocks infested with both root lesion nematodes and Rhizoctonia solani AG8
Kwinana East Crown rot severity and management .  Refer to 2019 Grains Research Updates paper: The effect of variety and regional nutrition strategies on crown rot severity in Merredin
Kwinana East Soil-borne disease risk in the eastern wheatbelt - refer to 2018 GRDC Research Updates: Characterising soil-borne disease risk in the eastern wheatbelt and national significance of major diseases
Kwinana East Yardstick trial - refer to 2018 GRDC Research Updates: A grower group’s solution to reducing wheat and barley selection risk for their low rainfall farming system
Kwinana East A case study of cross-industry collaboration leading to the capture of additional crown rot management insight. Refer to page 123, Proceedings 10th Australasian Soilborne Diseases Symposium, 2018
Kwinana East Spraying fungicide for spot type net blotch (STNB) Refer to Was there an economic return from fungicide application for management of spot type net blotch in Muntadgin in 2017?
Kwinana West Management of root lesion nematodes (RLN) and Rhizoctonia solani with break cropsRefer to 2019 GRDC Research Updates: Profitable break crop options for management of root lesion nematodes (RLN) and Rhizoctonia solani 
Kwinana West Provided assistance to GRDC frost project DAW00227 in the evaluation of frost sensitivity of barley, wheat and oat varieties in relation to sowing date. Refer to  2017 GRDC Research Updates: Myth busting the frost tolerance of oats
All Summer weeds Summer weed time of removal trials 2017
  Trial protocols - The project has compiled useful protocol documents to aid with planning and implementing research trials for people new to agricultural research. Contact Megan Abrahams if you would like a copy.


Contact information

Vanessa Stewart
+61 (0)8 9081 3149