Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 054 February-March 2005 - North
By BERNIE REPPEL n It’s a whopper of an idea, going Australia-wide with a risk management system initially developed to help Central Queensland farmers make decisions about their sorghum and sunflower crops. The WhopperCropper ‘discussion support’ system has improved a lot since then, driven by scientists from the Toowoomba-based Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit (APSRU), a joint venture between Queensland’s Departments of Primary Industries and Fisheries and Natural Resources and Mines, CSIRO and the University of Queensland. Its development – with long-term GRDC support – has involved private and public sector agronomists, farmers, teachers and students. More than 200 people have received accredited training in its use. Now the new GRDC project ‘National WhopperCropper – delivering risk management to agricultural advisers’ links APSRU and the 800-strong, national Nutrient Management Systems network of commercial advisers specialising in locally relevant fertiliser recommendations. The project’s leader, APSRU agronomist Howard Cox, says WhopperCropper allows users to compare the effects of different Whopper idea gets a national run News 5 FEBRUARY 2005 GROUND COVER By HELEN OLSEN n The former coordinator of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries Crop Evaluation Unit, Alan Bedggood, has been appointed as general manager of ACAS (Australian Crop Accreditation Systems) Limited, a not-for-profit organisation which the GRDC has contracted to manage its new National Variety Trials (NVT) program. Mr Bedggood has 30 years’ experience INDEPENDENT TRIALS A STEP CLOSER Pulses: variety management package New pulse varieties will soon come with their own Pulse VMP (variety management package) in a move by the GRDC, Pulse Australia and state agriculture departments to address the need for independent, objective assessment of new releases. Each management package will be specific to the variety. Development officer with Pulse Australia, Trevor Bray, said that the document would incorporate agronomic and pathology information from the breeding team, as well as farmers involved in the initial seed increase, marketers and customers. He referred to the example set by WA pea producers: “Two years ago WA farmers struck harvesting problems with the new ‘Kaspa’A variety. They experienced difficulty getting it to feed into their headers and used modifications such as cross augers and vertical knives to overcome the problem. That’s the sort of information we want to make available to all growers.” The VMP will cover all aspects of the new variety from weed control, response to particular herbicide treatment and harvest management. Field pea researcher Dr Eric Armstrong, of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said that even with the best will in the world, it had been difficult not to take a state-based approach to information about new varieties. “This is a definite attempt to take a national approach streamlining the provision of infor- mation about the new varieties to all production regions across Australia,” Dr Armstrong said. Dr Armstrong said Pulse Australia would guarantee the objectivity of the information released. Your handy guide to AWB Seeds product range and the Seed Variety Licence 2005 crop inputs and management decisions. “Input variables can include crop choice, variety sown and effect of maturity length, sowing date and plant density, soil water- holding capacity, starting soil water, how much nitrogen to apply and the likely effect of the southern oscillation index (SOI) on yield and profitability,” Mr Cox says. WhopperCropper is also part of the new Managing Climate Variability Program. It was designed to help agronomists and advisers use simulations to help clients with crop choice and management decisions. “We see advisers in the Nutrient Management Systems network turning to WhopperCropper when they are asked by their clients to interpret soil test results, a service already in high demand. Additional agronomic information will be able to be supplied along with crop nutrition advice.” Mr Cox says WhopperCropper’s presence in the system will be subtle – an adviser will be able to enter the program with a couple of clicks of a computer mouse – and as it will be already primed with localised data, there will be no need for data input. Development of a database of accurate and locally-validated runs of the APSIM crop simulation model will be crucial to the success of the project, which will rely on collaboration with local research and extension agronomists in testing the model and its simulations. Key regional collaborators include the NSW and Victorian Departments of Primary Industries, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), CSIRO and WA’s Department of Agriculture. “The project will be working closely with the state agencies, and will only use simulations that are deemed acceptable by them,” Mr Cox says. ∆GRDC Research Code: DAQ00006. For more information: Howard Cox, 07 4688 1200, Howard.Cox@dpi.qld.gov.au in the Australian grains industry. Prior to his state coordinator role he worked in plant quarantine, managed the cereal germplasm collection for Victoria, was operations manager for the Victorian Barley Breeding program for 15 years and was the GRDC barley industry development officer for the southern region from 1997 to 2000. Mr Bedggood took up his new position with ACAS in December 2004. The NVT is the new nationally coordinated system to replace the state- based Crop Variety Testing (CVT) program. Independent trials under the NVT are due to start this year and will cover winter cereals, canola and possibly pulses. The immediate challenge that Mr Bedggood says he faces is making the NVT operational as soon as possible. However, his appointment has cleared the way for the expressions of interest process for appointing organisations to run the trials. “We hope it will be possible for the GRDC to assess applications, negotiate with the favoured applicants, and develop the testing system by March – a tight deadline.” Plans have been made to retain the CVT program for the rest of 2005 if the complexities of setting up NVT contracts and establishing operational frameworks needs a longer transition period. Mr Bedggood says that breeders’ involvement in the NVT system will be voluntary, and he sees earning the same support and high regard that Australian breeding institutes had for the former CVT programs as the longer-term challenge. “Over the next few years the NVT must build credibility through the quality of information that we supply via the ACAS database – letting the relevant people know that this is where you look for information. “In this way, we will induce breeders of all crops to put their new varieties into the NVT system and, subsequently, provide independent information about these varieties to growers and their consultants via the ACAS database.” ∆GRDC Research Code: CAS12. For more information: Dr Andreas Betzner, 02 6272 5525, www.grdc.com.au Building credibility: Alan Bedggood. Growing comparisons: WhopperCropper supports tactical decision making.
Ground Cover 055 April-May 2005 - North
Ground Cover 053 December-January 2005 - North