Ground Cover West : Ground Cover 047 November-December 2003 - West
HIGH GRAINS 27 NOVEMBER 2003 A report into the burgeoning feedgrains market in China throws down the gauntlet to the Australian grain industry, saying the potentially lucrative market will bypass Australia unless the industry here can set up a dedicated and competitive supply. The GRDC-funded report by the Univer- sity of Sydney and the China Agricultural University confirms the widely held view that China is becoming a large market for feedgrains, but concludes that the US and South America are best placed to capitalise on this. The main reason is that 80 percent of feedgrains used in China's expanding livestock sector is corn and it would require a change in market strategy by the producers of other grains to make their product competitive. Without this, the report says Australian grain growers are more likely to benefit indirectly because the global resources for grain production is limited. If China begins to import significant quantities of coarse grains it would have to be drawn from other markets, into which Australian producers might then step. The report, China's Regional Feedgrain Markets -- Developments and Prospects, provides a reality check on any expectations that rising levels of affluence and meat consumption in China are poised to deliver a large, new grains market. In fact, the report states that on the latest figures, from 2002, China is still a net exporter of feedgrains, despite internal consumption rising from 29.3 to 36 percent of grain output. This is a clear reflection of China's own expanding grain-producing capacity. However the expectation is that China will become a significant net importer because of increasing demand for animal products domestically, and also because of China's By PHILLIPA BUTLER The ability to identify cereal growth stages has emerged as a critical factor in disease management in high rainfall cereals. This was the core message at a series of recent workshops held by Southern Farming Systems and the Foundation for Arable Research in New Zealand. Because crop growth and development are affected by environmental conditions and also the variety being grown, most practices for which timing is significant, for example fertiliser and fungicide application, are based on the growth stage rather than the calendar. The identification of cereal growth stages is based most commonly on the Decimal, or Zadok, growth scale, in which the development of the plant is broken down into 100 growth stages (see table, page 26). These stages are based on leaf numbers or other visible characteristics of the plants. Several stages are of critical importance when it comes to the application of foliar fungicides. For wheat, the early stem elongation period (Growth Stage 31-32) and the period through which the flag leaf (last leaf) emerges (GS39), are extremely important. For early leaf disease in wheat, an early spray at GS31-32 may be required. If leaf disease is not a problem at this point but occurs later in the crop cycle, then a fungicide application at GS39 may be required. This means growers must be familiar with the stages. A second message to come out of the workshops, which were held at Harden, NSW, Birchip, Murtoa, Lake Bolac and Geelong in Victoria, and Launceston in Tasmania, is that it is critically important that disease is identified. This is because what may appear to be a disease may simply be a physiological plant reaction of no importance, or it may be a nutrient deficiency, or it may be a herbicidal reaction. Farmers are advised to call on a suitably qualified agronomist to establish first whether the condition is in fact disease, and then exactly what the disease is. GRDC RESEARCH CODE SFS00006, program 3 For more information: Col Hacking: Ph 03 5229 0566 Water project looks beyond farm boundary By PHILLIPA BUTLER As water becomes an increasingly critical issue in Australia, Victoria's farmers are being asked to look at their farms as pieces of a giant water- use jigsaw, interlocked with both the property next door and those several kilometres down the road. The objective is to develop integrated whole-farm plans that will take into account water movement across farms and across catchments, to try and reduce erosion and the nutrification of waterways. In conjunction with Southern Farming Systems, Victoria's catchment management authorities hope to attract groups of volunteer farmers to the project, called the Integrated Sub- Catchment Planning for Improved Water Flow Management. Initially two catchment management authorities will be involved, covering the Corangamite and the Glenelg Hopkins regions. The exact locations of the trial areas have yet to be finalised, but organisers will be targeting areas where water quality and flow are already issues. Because managing water on a catchment scale means dealing with issues such as the rights of private landholders, Southern Farming Systems' Col Hacking is pragmatic about the task ahead: "I don't think it's going to be easy, but it could be very rewarding. There are some fantastic gains to be made," he said. "We just want people to look beyond the farm boundary, and we're looking at ways of doing that without using a heavy-handed, big-stick approach." The man with the job of contacting farmers and encouraging people to get involved is consultant Cam Nicholas. The project's planners hope that by encouraging farmers to link together in their water management practices there will be a clear improvement in quality and flow for everyone. To achieve this might involve some sharing of resources: perhaps the development of community wetlands, possibly community dams for water re-use, and the linking of shelter belts, providing tree corridors for birds, among other benefits. The Victorian Government is providing $100,000 for the project for 12 months, under its State Water for Growth initiative. For more information: Col Hacking: Ph 03 5229 0566 Two trials of winter wheat lines focusing for the first time on yield have been sown in Victoria. The trial crops, at Gnarwarre and Lake Bolac, were sown in July -- a little later than the ideal as the program was delayed by the discovery of the wheat streak mosaic virus earlier in the year. The trial crops signal the beginning of a three-year CSIRO winter wheat program for southern Australia, funded by the GRDC. The CSIRO Plant Breeding Centre has contracted Southern Farming Systems (SFS) to coordinate the program. A spokesman for SFS says the trial crops are all about running testing programs for winter wheats in the southern environment. The lines will be tested for yield, adaptability to the southern high rainfall zone and disease resistance. The trials cover Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. CSIRO winter wheat breeder Susan Kleven says this is the first time the lines have been yield-tested. "We're looking for population of plants, coverage, how well they're tillering, as well as the presence or absence of disease." Hundreds of advanced breeding lines have been sown at Gnarwarre, on a private property, and hundreds, again, of early-generation lines at Southern Farming Systems' research farm at Lake Bolac. The Gnarwarre material is seventh-generation, F7, and the Bolac crop F2. "In the early generation trials we're trying to find out which lines are going to yield the best," says Ms Kleven. "There are over 200 different lines in that trial. We will cull the amount of lines we have to 10 or 20, and use those for the next stage of the trials." It takes about 10 years from the start of a trial to the commercial release of however many varieties are suitable -- which sometimes might just be one. Although it is early days, Ms Kleven says the crops are showing promising early results in population and coverage. The Lake Bolac crop is perhaps another eight or nine years away from commercialisation, as it takes about eight generations to eliminate the variability in the material that is evident at the F2 stage. Gnarwarre may produce material suitable for commercial release within a couple of years. SFS stresses that the trials involve only traditionally bred material, not genetically modified products. GRDC RESEARCH CODE CSP00019 For more information: Susan Kleven: plant breeder, CSIRO, Ph 02 6246 5374; or Col Hacking: Southern Farming Systems, Ph 03 5229 0566 Winter wheats on trial in the southern environment aspirations to increase its exports of animal products. China's demand for feedgrains is therefore expected to grow by 25-30 percent by 2010. This is expected to only be partly met by domestic feedgrains production. The report says this will force China increasingly into the world grain market, and that it will be the flow-on effect that could benefit Australian growers most -- unless Australian feedgrains such as feed barley and wheat can compete with the corn grown by North and South American growers. GRDC RESEARCH CODE US282, program 5 For more information: The full report can be obtained through Ground Cover Direct: http://www.grdc.com.au/bookshop/ main.htm Growth stages critical in disease management Australia in danger of missing the China opportunity Under cover: corn storage in northeast China. Corn makes up 80 percent of feedgrains for China's expanding livestock sector.
Ground Cover 048 February-March 2004 - West