Regional research agronomy project

Page last updated: Thursday, 17 September 2020 - 10:21am

'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).

Background

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.

5 people looking at crop disease in trial plots
Regional agronomy team learning about DPIRD crop disease trials, September 2020

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). 

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, July 2019
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 
Esperance

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 activities and the publications resulting from these activities are listed below.

Snails management in Albany and Esperance

Managing soil-borne pests and diseases

Weeds management

Managing disease in cereals and canola

Soil amelioration

Break crops and pastures

Frost management 

Local valication of wheat varieties

Trial protocols

  • 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