DEPARTMENT of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) research officer Stephen Davies has won the 2017 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) western region Seed of Light award.
Dr Davies, an expert on managing soil constraints in cropping systems, was presented with the award today at the GRDC Grains Research Update in Perth.
Announcing the award, GRDC Western Regional Panel chairman Peter Roberts said Dr Davies’ skills and knowledge were an asset to the local and national grains industry.
He said the increased productivity of WA grain growers in the past decade highlights the willingness and ability of researchers, growers and advisers to tackle the issues of water-repellent, compacted and/or acidic soils.
“Research into areas of ameliorating water repellent/non-wetting soils and acidity with tactics such as deep ripping, spading, mouldboard ploughing, topsoil ‘slotting’, lime and clay application and wetting agents have all played a role in this,” Mr Roberts said.
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Mr Roberts said GRDC-funded work led by Dr Davies into these strategies was starting to pay off in the development of tools for more effective soils and agronomy management to reduce production risks and lift returns.
“Dr Davies has demonstrated outstanding leadership and use of innovation and creativity in his scientific endeavours in this field,” he said.
“Many growers across the grainbelt have now adopted some form of soil amelioration techniques and are reaping the benefits of potentially higher-yielding crops that can tap into extra soil moisture at seeding and other key times of the growing season.”
Based at DAFWA’s Geraldton office and part of the Soil Productivity R&D team, Dr Davies currently heads the GRDC-funded research project into delivering practical agronomic solutions for water-repellent soils in WA.
In this role he liaises and collaborates with researchers and personnel from key organisations in the WA and national grains sectors, including universities, the CSIRO, grower groups and growers.
Dr Davies had more than 22 years of experience in understanding agricultural plant physiology and soils research, and Mr Roberts said he was always willing to sit down with growers and advisers to work through their issues.
“He and his team provide an excellent example of researchers who are based in the heart of crop production regions and can take on board the practical implications of the work they are doing,” he said.
The western region Seed of Light award is presented annually to a person making a major contribution to communicating the outcomes of grains research and development in WA.
Source : GRDC