Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 072 January-February 2008 - North
JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2008 GROUND COVER 23 Irrigation IRRIGATION SITE SUSTAINS TRIALS DURING THE DRY BY ALEC NICOL n A 75 per cent allocation of high- security irrigation water saw NSW’s Yanco Agricultural Institute become the oasis for grains research in 2007. One hundred years after it began, Yanco has been ‘rediscovered’ by government and private breeding organisations alike. With the massive irrigated cereal selection trial as a centrepiece, Yanco last year emerged from the veils of history to attract everything from CSIRO pre-breeding research through to advanced-stage agronomy trials. Bought from Samuel McCaughey in 1908 to demonstrate the ‘mysteries of irrigation’, Yanco was just in time for the explosion of irrigation development that followed the First World War. Since then, its long avenue of palm trees has stood sentinel over Australian agricultural development, from crops to working donkeys to ostriches for the feather trade. They saw the planting of the first Japanese rice varieties and opium poppy trials. Italian prisoners of war rested in their shade and recalcitrant boys from broken homes climbed them. And the reason for its birth – water – is again rejuvenating its future. Manager George Stevens says interest in Yanco was revived after the failure of trial sites across the southern wheatbelt in season 2006: “Here and at Jerilderie, also under irrigation, we were able to get results. Breeders have been able to use the water to mimic a ‘normal’ season.” CSIRO was one research body drawn back to Yanco, establishing trials there for the first time in 20 years, and planning to return in 2008. “All sites have in-ground sensors so researchers can measure the moisture available to their trials and work accordingly,” Mr Stevens says. Visitors to a field day in late October saw CSIRO durum pre-breeding work, alongside an in-ground moisture-monitoring system designed to improve water-use efficiency in cereal crops; and, of course, the huge irrigated-cereal-selection trial, which represents the activities of virtually every cereal-breeding company in Australia. In a paddock beside the selection trial, management practices developed as part of ‘the eight-tonne club’ were also on show. This practical demonstration of what is needed to manage for maximum yield under irrigation has been developed with leading farmers by John Lacy from the NSW Department of Primary Industries. With most of the 1000 wheat, 150 durum, 100 barley and 50 triticale lines drawn from all over the world still green in October, Dr Andrew Milgate, who manages the trial, was claiming success in the search for the attributes that would see cereals regularly yield 10 tonnes a hectare. “Consistency is the goal,” Dr Milgate said. “The aim is to identify the attributes that, under irrigation, produce 10 tonnes of grain per hectare, year-in and year- out across the range of soil types.” There were, of course, failures. Some lines had lodged, but they will be further assessed rather than instantly culled. “We want to collect solid data on the good and the bad over the next couple of years,” Dr Milgate said. “Dr Maarten Stapper has previously demonstrated the importance of getting the flowering time right to meet the 10-tonne target. Late September to the first week in October is ideal and we seem to have hit the money with almost every line.” Among the top-10-producing CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) lines in the trial are two that, between them, account for 11 million hectares of irrigated crop on the sub-continent. Alongside them, synthetic lines incorporating desirable attributes from both wild relatives and established varieties, produced – to many people’s surprise – in excess of 9t/ha. Farmers, breeders and industry representatives walked the half kilometre through one replication of the trial. Farmers peppered breeders with questions about the possibilities of striking the balance between high yield and protein levels. As for barley, Dr Jason Eglinton of the University of Adelaide and Barley Breeding Australia, said there was work to be done if NSW growers were to be encouraged to grow more. “In Victoria and South Australia the area under barley is typically 75 per cent of that sown to wheat. In NSW it’s more like 20 per cent.” To boost that production, Dr Eglinton suggested growers needed varieties that improved marketing opportunities and risk management. That included the potential for very- early-maturing varieties and 100-day varieties with frost tolerance. Growers were quick to acknowledge the advantages of barley in a double-cropping rotation, but said there were still lessons to be learnt in managing barley under intensive irrigation. “We might have pushed some of this material a bit hard,” admitted Dr Eglinton. “Straw strength is obviously a major consideration under these conditions and perhaps growth regulants will need to be part of the management strategy in high-yielding barley production.” Aerial view of the '10-tonne trial': wheat, barley, durum and triticale material under trial for future irrigation varieties. PHOTO: PETER DRAPER GRDC Research Code DAN00047 More information: John Lacy, firstname.lastname@example.org. au; Dr Jason Eglinton, email@example.com. au; George Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr Andrew Milgate, email@example.com Each of the new 70 Series models features a redesigned operator's environment, now with the CommandCenterTM Display and CommandTouchTM Armrest Console for even easier use and control. Back in the engine compartment, the two biggest combines - the 9770 & 9870 STS - get a horsepower increase, bringing the 9770 STS to 360 HP and the 9870 STS to 440 HP. If you spend long hours in the cab, or if you must occasionally depend on less-skilled drivers, a GreenStar 2 guidance system can pay you back in more comfortable, more accurate operation. With the GreenStar 2 system, you choose the type of guidance you need - either manual, with visual references or fully automatic steering - and the level of accuracy. 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Ground Cover 071 November-December 2007 - North
Ground Cover 073 March-April 2008 - North