Ground Cover South : Ground Cover 066 January-February 2007 - South
Post-drought role seen for graze-and- grain oats The recent release of the MannusA dual-purpose oat will add to the choices available to mixed farmers BY BOB FREEBAIRN n Dual-purpose oat varieties are increasing in popularity, especially in the prevailing drought conditions. Appropriate varieties can provide valuable winter grazing when pasture growth is slow, and then provide grain yields similar to grain-only crops. The latest dual-purpose oat, released in November 2006, is MannusA, a high- performing variety from the GRDC-supported NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) breeding program based at Temora, led by plant breeder Glenn Roberts. MannusA and Eurabbie, developed from the same program and released in 1998, are likely to be the dominant dual-purpose varieties for some time in many slopes, lower tableland and inner plains districts of NSW. MannusA is also expected to create interest for oats as a dual-purpose crop in other states. Dual-purpose varieties comprise the majority of the 400,000 hectares grown in NSW and are also receiving increasing attention in other southern states. Their role is to provide good winter feed when pasture growth is slow and then go on and provide a grain harvest. Importantly, other research suggests oats and triticale enjoy good tolerance to wheat streak mosaic virus, a disease capable of seriously damaging grazing and grain yield of many dual-purpose wheat and barley varieties. Research indicates that, provided grazing is completed before stem elongation begins and the developing head becomes accessible to the grazing animal, grain harvest can be nearly as high from suitable dual-purpose varieties as from grain-only crops. ‘Winter habit’ has been bred into varieties such as MannusA and Eurabbie and it is this attribute that keeps the growing point (where the grain head develops) at ground level and out of the way of grazing animals. After a period of cold weather (commonly about two months, but can be more if suitable genes are incorporated into a variety), the winter habit is satisfied and growth transfers to ‘spring habit’, where elongation of the stem makes the head vulnerable to grazing. In contrast, most grain-only and hay varieties, as well as many grazing-only varieties on the market, have spring habit. Stem elongation begins earlier in varieties with spring habit, making the developing ear vulnerable to grazing at an early stage. Should the grazing animal remove the developing head, as inevitably happens in spring varieties, the tiller dies. Some spring-habit varieties have the ability to form new tillers from the base of the plant, but these commonly develop too late for good grain recovery, although they can continue to provide good grazing. The cold requirement is especially important in years of autumn sowing if the desirable period of maximum winter feed is to be achieved, although this is not always possible with dry autumns. When sown early, varieties with no winter habit tend to run to head very quickly and therefore suffer a lot of tiller death, as well as early loss of high grazing quality. Some dual-purpose varieties with winter habit, such as Eurabbie and MannusA, also perform well as grain- only varieties or as grazing only. Eurabbie Eurabbie sets the benchmark for grain recovery after grazing and for its areas of adaptability. It is also a good producer of forage and provides fast early feed. MannusA MannusA yields similarly in grain recovery to Eurabbie but with improved grain quality. While Eurabbie is a desirable low-lignin type (see Ground Cover Issue 43, ‘Oats are oats are oats? Not at all’), grain test weight is commonly low, grain size is small and groat percentage is low (less kernel). In contrast, the grain size of MannusA is large, test weight is good and it has high groat percentage, low husk lignin and medium fat content. Research has shown that varieties with high husk lignin content often result in poor husk and grain digestion, leading to large differences in weight gain compared to varieties with low lignin content. Varieties with high lignin content include BETTER SOIL HEALTH DEPENDS ON R&D TEAMWORK BY SUSSAN LEY MP Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry n Soils are the foundation on which everything in agriculture sits, so understanding the complexity of our soils is central to the ongoing development of farming industries. Because of the diversity of soil types, and the agriculture they support, the R&D resources available from industry and government may risk being spread too thinly, unless everyone involved works to a coordinated strategy that ensures research priorities are formulated effectively. This was the central thread of my address to the GRDC’s soils workshop in Canberra in December, where one of the less understood aspects of soil health – soil biology – was being rigorously assessed by researchers, farmers and industry representatives. The workshop’s objective was to bring together a wide range of experiences, to review achievements in the science so far and begin a strategic planning process to identify future opportunities. As everyone knows, soil quality is a key determinant of farm business productivity and profitability, as well as sustainability. Also, from a wider community perspective, improvements to the health of our agricultural soils could also provide some useful insights into looking after our broader natural environment. Despite some very difficult seasons climatically, the increasing sustainability of our agricultural industries, especially our grains industries, reveals a remarkable resilience in areas where soil management has advanced – to the point where a growing number of farmers are achieving more with less, in terms of rainfall. The ongoing development of more sustainable cropping systems that enable soils to hold on to more of what has been, in recent years, a diminishing rainfall, is testimony to the efforts of rural research and development corporations working together, and with other research providers, on this important area of research. Everyone in the sector has an interest in ensuring this important, and often hidden, area of research – soil health – gets the attention it deserves for the benefit of our producers and for our precious environment. I encourage researchers and farmers alike to dig deep for the right questions so the answers that are found are able to keep making a significant difference. The workshop was a fine example of researchers and agricultural industry representatives from around the country working together to achieve the best results in rural research and development. I congratulate all those involved in this combined effort and look forward to following the progress of this and other such work through 2007 and beyond. Echidna, Coolabah, Mortlock, PossumA and Euro. Varieties with low lignin content include the new MannusA, MitikaA, Bimbil, Carbeen, Eurabbie, Yarran, Nile and YiddahA. Compared with Eurabbie, MannusA also has improved leaf and stem rust resistance. However, almost no Australian oat varieties have sound leaf and stem rust resistance, and like them, MannusA can be quite susceptible in some situations. MannusA has also in some seasons shown some improved tolerance to barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) compared to Eurabbie, which is very susceptible. Varieties such as Blackbutt and YiddahA have more tolerance to BYDV than MannusA. Grazing production of MannusA has overall been good. However, its early forage production is about 12 per cent behind Eurabbie, but later grazing is similar. MannusA is a comparatively tall plant and generally similar to dual-purpose varieties such as Cooba, Bimbil and Yarran. It is substantially taller than the semi-dwarf Eurabbie. However, its straw is stronger than Cooba, Coolabah, Bimbil and Yarran, and in a dual-purpose role lodging is not a major issue. MannusA matures a few days faster than Eurabbie. Its area of adaptability is likely to be similar to that of Eurabbie, with more of a reach into the drier areas as well as suiting medium and higher- rainfall districts. Seed should be available for commercial sowing in 2007. More information: Glenn Roberts, 02 6977 3333, firstname.lastname@example.org Dual-purpose crops GROUND COVER JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2007 20 KEY POINTS n New oat variety MannusA adds to grain-and- graze choices n Allows less grazing than leading dual- purpose variety Eurabbie, but compensates with high grain quality and yield after grazing n Has good rust resistance and tolerance to barley yellow dwarf virus Breeder Glenn Roberts is congratulated on the release of the MannusA oat at Cowra in October by Junee farmer Bernard Hart.
Ground Cover 065 November-December 2006 - South
Ground Cover 067 March-April 2007 - South