GROWERS have a unique opportunity to participate in a new national initiative striving to push crop yield boundaries in high yield potential grain growing environments.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) new Hyper Yielding Crops initiative is now under way and growers are encouraged to become involved for their own benefit and that of their peers.
The four-year investment spans five states – Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia – and aims to push the economically attainable yield boundaries of wheat, barley and canola.
The Hyper Yielding Crops (HYC) initiative involves five research centres of excellence and attached to each of these are focus farm paddock trials and an innovative grower network charged with taking research and development learnings from small plot to paddock scale.
Growers are invited to join the networks and host paddock-scale trials on their properties to enable a ‘seeing is believing’ participatory approach to the research.
High yield potential cultivars suited to local environments will be identified and the most appropriate agronomic management tactics – including paddock selection and preparation, canopy management, disease, weed and pest control, and crop nutrition strategies – will be explored to assist grower and adviser decision making.
Potential to double yields
Project leader Nick Poole, from FAR Australia, said HYC built on the success of the GRDC’s four-year Hyper Yielding Cereals Project in Tasmania, which demonstrated it was possible to more than double yields in some situations through sowing the right cultivars and effective implementation of appropriately tailored management strategies. The Hyper Yielding Cereals Project generated significant attention from mainland growers.
“This initiative is about trying to improve our productivity, increase our yields and close what we believe is a significant yield gap in some high yield potential grain growing environments,” Mr Poole said.
“We want to not only lift productivity, but also stabilise productivity. It’s no good having varieties that are boom and bust, performing well one year and then not the next. So, our focus is on improving yields and also stabilising them.”
Hyper Yielding Crops extension officer, Jon Midwood, said HYC aimed to up-scale research to paddock-based trials, providing growers with answers to questions related to their individual farming systems and environments.
“It is really important for people to believe in these yield potentials that we talk about, and then to see that translated into reality in a trial situation at the research centres and, most importantly, on-farm in growers’ paddocks,” Mr Midwood said.
The HYC research centres of excellence are being led and managed by FAR Australia in collaboration with Brill Ag, CSIRO, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in WA, the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and Southern Farming Systems (SFS). The five centres are sited in Tasmania (Hagley), Victoria (Gnarwarre), SA (Millicent), NSW (Wallendbeen), and in WA (Green Range).
Mr Midwood said the research centres would provide the focus for detailed examination of cultivars, disease management and nitrogen management.
“The core data generated from those small plot scale environments will be taken to growers’ paddocks where project officers in each state will work with the innovative grower networks to set up paddock trials on growers’ properties,” he said.
To underpin the ‘whole community of interest’ concept, a HYC awards program is being established.
Project leaders are seeking nominations of 10 wheat paddocks per region – 50 in total – to enable growers to benchmark the agronomic performance of their crops compared with a regional standard.
“The HYC awards aren’t about tall poppies or who’s got the best yield,” Mr Poole said.
“This is about trying to build a whole community of interest, not just in what went right but also what can sometimes go wrong. We can learn as a group far more from those situations.
“And while we’re keen to look at the profitability of these crops, it’s the agronomic benchmarking that we see as being key. It’s an opportunity for growers to look, compare and discuss those individual levers to achieving full yield potential.”
The HYC focus farm paddock trials, innovative grower network and awards involve TechCrop working with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia and four farming groups across the country.
These are Southern Farming Systems (SFS) in Tasmania and Victoria, MacKillop Farm Management Group (MFMG) in SA, Riverine Plains Inc in NSW, and Stirling to Coast Farmers in WA.
Growers, advisers and others wishing to become involved in the HYC initiative can contact their respective state project officers:
Victoria – Ashley Amourgis of SFS, [email protected]
Tasmania – Ian Herbert of SFS, [email protected]
SA – Jen Lillecrapp of MFMG, [email protected]
NSW – Kate Coffey of Riverine Plains Inc – [email protected]
WA – Phillip Mackie of Stirling to Coast Farmers, [email protected].