WA future-focused farming systems trials in ground

Grain Central, June 2, 2023

DPIRD technical officer Matt Mills, crop science and grain production manager Bob French and research scientist Dion Nicol prepare to seed at the Merredin trial site. Photo: DPIRD

DEPARTMENT of Primary Industries and Regional Development researchers have begun three large-
scale trials looking at future-focused farming systems in Western Australia.

The four-year field trials are part of the Western Australian Farming Systems project, which is
investigating how farming practices can increase profit, manage risk and reduce greenhouse gas

The project, a co-investment between DPIRD)and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, is targeting medium and low-rainfall regions of WA.

DPIRD dryland farming systems manager Vanessa Stewart said the project aimed to increase
adoption and integration of agronomic and systems innovations to increase whole farm profitability
through managing enterprise mix and paddock rotations.

“We’ve consulted with about 150 local growers and advisers to understand key issues the project
will need to address,” Ms Stewart said.

Regional Innovation Groups, made up of local growers and advisers, have been established to provide ongoing input into the research direction and system trial treatments in each region.

DPIRD research scientist Martin Harries said sowing was under way at trial sites across the grainbelt at the medium-rainfall sites of Lake Grace and Northampton, and Merredin in the low-rainfall area.

“We are addressing three key project outputs: system break options that deliver improved profit and acceptable risk; analysis of the opportunities and risks of changing seeding window opportunities; and management options for maintaining profitability under low greenhouse gas emissions scenarios,” Dr Harries said.

“The field trials will test rotations with and without legumes in the system, different sowing times
(dry versus wet) and various nitrogen rates.”

Results from the field trials will combine with whole-farm economic modelling and greenhouse gas
accounting to examine whether reducing nitrogen inputs, diversifying rotations or changing the time
of sowing can reduce financial risk and lower greenhouse-gas emissions within WA farming

Source: DPIRD


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