Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 057 August-September 2005 - North
GRDC news and views GROUND COVER AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2005 2 Editorial opinion By PETER READING Managing Director, Grains Research and Development Corporation and management of grower and government-funded research at this crucial time in the grains sector's history. At the same time we have also been putting together -- at the request of the Grains Council of Australia -- an interim board whose job it will be to keep the Single Vision Strategic Plan moving forward. The interim board has been appointed and represents expertise from a number of areas. It comprises: Murray Rogers (value chain and logistics, marketing, food manufacturing), Christine Hawkins (a GRDC board member with expertise in finance and venture capital, corporate structures, auditing and accounting), Grant Latta (food manufacturing, supply chain logistics, legal and governance expertise), Ian McKinnon (Tasmanian grower) and Phillip Young (grain production, international consulting, plant breeding, agribusiness). A sixth person Talent surfaces Ground Cover is brought to you by growers and the Federal Government through the publisher, the Grains Research and Development Corporation. GRDC: 02 6272 5525; fax 02 6271 6430 Write to: The Editor -- Ground Cover PO Box 5367, Kingston ACT 2604 Executive Editor: Ms Maureen Cribb, Publications Manager, GRDC, 02 6272 5525 Managing Editor: Brad Collis, Coretext, 03 9670 1168; fax 03 9670 1127 Design and production: Coretext, www.coretext.com.au Advertising sales: Max Hyde, Hyde Media Pty Ltd, 03 9870 4161; fax 03 9870 4163, firstname.lastname@example.org Printing: Capital Fine Print, Canberra Circulation: Ms Maureen Cribb, 02 6272 5525 ISSN 1039-6217 Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NAD 3994 Key to symbols Plant Breeders' Rights AThis symbol denotes that the variety is protected by Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR). Harvest Radio Where this symbol appears, readers can listen to an online audio presentation by: n going to www.grdc.com.au/radio/main.htm; n scrolling to the relevant link. Grains Research Updates Where this symbol appears, growers and advisers can catch up on the latest Grains Research Update information by: n going to www.grdc.com.au; n clicking on 'For Growers'; n clicking on 'Research Updates'; and n selecting your region (North, South, West, High Rainfall, Irrigation). For more information ∆Where this symbol appears, readers can access additional information or contact the people named. n The depth of expertise that exists at so many levels in the grains industry has been clearly on display in recent weeks during the appointment of new faces to a number of representative bodies. The GRDC received more than 100 applications for 28 vacancies on our regional panels, which play a crucial role in determining grains research priorities. It was heartening to see such a show of enthusiasm and commitment to the industry's future and the pivotal role that the GRDC plays. The high calibre of applicants means the three panels representing the northern, southern and western regions will have a solid body of expertise from research, production and agribusiness. This can only strengthen the direction is to be appointed by the board itself. The GRDC has agreed to provide funding for two years to keep the Single Vision strategy progressing to address industry issues and to gain its pan-industry support. During this time the interim board will work on key issues identified by the task forces already set up for R&D, infrastructure and transport, communications, biotechnology and new end-uses, and environmental and economic sustainability. While these appointments have been happening, selections have also started for new GRDC board members. This is still continuing, but as with the panels and the Single Vision interim board, there has been a high level of interest in being involved with the GRDC. Importantly, this is also reflected among growers. The results of our recent grower survey show a steadily rising level of awareness and appreciation of the role that GRDC is playing as an independent R&D manager. We are still analysing the feedback, but a few early figures show that top-of- mind awareness of GRDC now exceeds 90 per cent, and over the past 12 months the number of growers that rate GRDC's performance as high to very high has risen from 72 to 74 per cent. This is pleasing, but of course our aim is 100 per cent. The principal areas in which growers see GRDC playing a major role include new varieties, cereal rust management, herbicide resistance management, soil health and biology and new grain- based products. The survey also talked to agronomists and consultants who all indicated they have a high reliance on the GRDC directing research priorities. More than 1000 growers were telephoned in the survey and we sincerely appreciate the time and thought that they put into their responses. This is extremely valuable and is important for setting both R&D priorities and our own performance benchmarks. Disclaimer: This publication has been prepared in good faith by the Grains Research and Development Corporation on the basis of the information available to us at the date of publication, without any independent verification. Neither the Corporation and its editors nor any contributor to this publication represent that the contents of this publication are accurate or complete; nor do we accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions in the contents, however they may arise. Readers who act on information from Ground Cover do so at their own risk. The Corporation and contributors to Ground Cover may identify products by proprietary or trade names to help readers identify particular types of products. We do not endorse or recommend the products of any manufacturer referred to. Other products may perform as well as or better than those specifically referred to. GRDC ACTIVITY GROWER VIEWS IN THE WEST Plain talking at Wongan Hills By VIC DOBOS, Executive Manager, communication and customer services When GRDC board members travelled to Perth for their annual Western Region board meeting in June, it gave them a chance to leave their papers, strategy and governance for a day to kick sods, talk issues and enjoy some of the best scones and pumpkin soup going. These annual meetings are vital because they allow the board to interact with innovative growers. This is hugely beneficial because it adds real depth to our strategy. Joining the board in grower Mark Hyde's machinery shed were Peter Nixon, Don Sadler, Ruth Young (recently appointed to the GRDC Western Regional panel), Rob Sewell, Mike Shields and other growers who aired a range of issues. Uppermost in growers' minds were: n lack of profitable rotation options with wheat -- lupins considered a poor, unprofitable competitor with weeds; n lack of clover management expertise to maximise benefits to crops; n weeds continuing to be a significant and evolving issue; n variety investment from GRDC, seen as critical; and n cost-price squeeze, seen as an issue to address through technology. David Williams, crop agronomist with Agrow Consulting, explained that a lack of profitable rotational crops is a major issue for wheat growers in the west: "Growers are trying a number of different rotation options to ensure the best wheat crop pos- sible. Some are trying legumes, some pasture crops, and others grow multiple wheat rotations -- wheat on wheat on wheat." David said that multiple wheat rotations improved profitability and were better at controlling weeds than legume rotations, but the cost to farming systems is high: "Growers need to spend more on fertiliser with multiple wheat rotations, although it ends up being more profitable than a legume rotation because legume yields are just not good enough." Another issue raised by the WA group was varietal development. With about 60 per cent of GRDC spending going towards better or improved varieties, growers wanted to know when they might see something coming out of it. David said that WA wheat growers had been using the same varieties for 11 years. Another issue is production costs. The cost-price squeeze is a hard reality that farmers are keen to address, and research into improving efficiency, and reducing inputs such as fertiliser, are seen as one way forward. Weed management also continues to be a problem, and the growers said that more robust systems were now needed to deal with weeds. The growers see this as an area where GM crops could be particularly important tools. Footnote: A special thanks to David Williams and Jim Carroll (Western Region panel support officer) for organising the day and to raconteur coach captain Dale Baker. Top: host for the day, WA grower Mark Hyde; middle: WA grower and national chairman of Australian Nuffeld Farming Scholarships, Peter Nixon; bottom: grower Don Sadler. GeneEthics advertisement: the GRDC's response n In this edition, the GeneEthics Network Australia has taken paid advertising to publicise its views on GM crops. The statements made in this advertisement do not reflect the GRDC's policy or views. n Normally the GRDC, publisher of Ground Cover, would not comment on issues raised in paid advertising. On this occasion, because the GRDC and its Managing Director, Peter Reading, have been specifically mentioned, it is appropriate to respond. n The GRDC and Peter Reading apologised to the GeneEthics Network for not replying to initial inquiries in a timely manner. This was an administrative oversight and there are now checks in place to rectify what was a breakdown in internal processes. n The GRDC reserves the right to refuse any material, including editorial and paid advertising. n The GRDC encourages informed and open debate on gene technology and other technologies so that graingrowers have access to science-based factual information allowing them to come to an informed decision. In fact, gene technology -- the cases for and against -- has been the subject of articles in previous issues of Ground Cover. n By investing in the development and use of gene technologies and genetically modified crops, the GRDC facilitates access by Australian scientists, and thereby Australian growers, to advances in gene technologies. The GRDC will invest where: (a) use of gene technologies will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Australian plant breeding efforts; and (b) a genetically modified (GM) crop variety will provide substantial agronomic, environmental or economic benefits to GRDC stakeholders. n The GRDC facilitates grower choice in technologies and will contribute to industry efforts to maintain coexistence of different production systems and supply chains. n The article states that research dollars should be used to develop sustainable management systems. In 2004-05, the GRDC invested approximately $90 million in sustainable management systems. n In managing agronomic and market risks, the role of the GRDC is to facilitate grower choice in the technologies they incorporate into individual farming systems. WHAT GRAINGROWERS SAY: "Denying ourselves the answers that modern biotechnology can give us is to deny the realities of modern farming. It is a complacency we can't afford ... we growers must start to understand that truly sustainable grain production in our lifetime will not be possible without the use of GM technologies." -- Aaron Edmonds, WA grower and Nuffield Scholar. "The debate on genetically modified (GM) crops is a difficult topic to approach, and will remain so until the emotion is set aside so the debate can progress in a scientific and unbiased manner." -- Murray Gmeiner, WA grower and Nuffield Scholar.
Ground Cover 058 October-November 2005 - North
Ground Cover 056 June-July 2005 - North