Research

Projects to tackle NSW crop diseases, surveillance

Grain Central, August 29, 2022

Crown rot has potential to be a significant threat to NSW grain growers.

NEW SOUTH Wales grain growers are set to benefit from two new projects focused on crop protection and biosecurity in the grains sector.

Working in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will lead a $2.47 million, three-year project developed to improve central and southern NSW growers’ understanding and management of Fusarium crown rot.

GRDC has also committed $1.5M to the NSW DPI’s successful real-time disease surveillance and diagnostics service direct to growers.

NSW DPI director northern cropping systems, Guy McMullen, has welcomed the collaborative investments.

“These two new investments follow the successful $64 million Grains Agronomy and Pathology Partnership, I’m proud that the NSW Government and GRDC continue to work together closely to support our State’s grains industry.”

GRDC senior manager crop protection Emma Colson said GRDC was committed to investing and working closely with key research partners to improve the grains industry’s crop protection and biosecurity capacity.

“GRDC has a successful history of partnering with NSW DPI to deliver practical, measurable benefits for grain growers and these new investments are designed to build on that work,” Dr Colson said.

“The first investment is focused on improving awareness and management options for Fusarium crown rot, so growers are aware of the risks and understand the best practice management tactics to reduce the risk of economic losses on-farm.

“This new investment aims to ensure that by 2025 growers in central and southern NSW have the knowledge to make on-farm decisions that mitigate the risk of economic losses to Fusarium crown rot.

“The second strategic investment by GRDC with NSW DPI has been developed to bolster the surveillance and diagnosis capacity of grain crop diseases for all Australian grain growers.”

She said the investments reflected GRDC’s commitment to prioritising investments in research, development and extension (RD&E) that helped growers make more informed decisions on-farm and supported the enduring profitability of the grains sector.

Crown rot threat

Dr McMullen said that these projects would provide immediate benefit to growers and contribute to ongoing research and development to better understand winter crop diseases, how they can be managed to reduce impact on yield and ensure appropriate management strategies were deployed.

“Fusarium crown rot is the largest soilborne biotic threat to winter cereals, particularly wheat, and yet many growers don’t recognise that the disease can result in 5-20pc yield loss, even in the two years of wet finishes we’ve experienced.

“This project will allow us to research further into what we know already by implementing validation trials, working directly with growers and advisors on education and surveying wheat crops on a commercial paddock scale to improve our understanding of fusarium crown rot across both southern and northern NSW.”

Dr McMullen said NSW DPI’s experienced and trusted plant pathologists will deliver advice and diagnostics direct to growers and advisors to minimise the impact of disease on winter crops.

“The co-investment in the surveillance and diagnostic service has been available since 2017 and working directly with growers has meant that DPI is collecting information in real time, delivering integrated management advice specific to the growers’ area and climatic conditions.”

Winter grain crop diseases such as Fusarium crown rot are a major constraint to the $8 billion dollar NSW grains industry, with an estimated cost to growers of $350 million each year.

Source: NSW DPI

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