Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 048 February-March 2004 - North
The Eureka Prizes this year will again highlight the critical importance of environmental sustainability to the grains industry with a $10,000 prize sponsored by the GRDC. The closing date to submit entries to the Australian Museum is 14 May 2004 (details below). The GRDC is encouraging individual growers, grower groups and scientists involved in grains research to compete for the prize, which will be awarded to an individual, team or organisation whose work has, or could, increase the sustainability of the use of natural resources. Dr Jan Mahoney, formerly the GRDC's executive manager for Product and Service Delivery, was a judge of last year's inaugural Eureka Prize for Research to Improve the Environmental Sustainability of Graingrowing. "In judging the entries, I was impressed with the fact that people are combining economic and industry imperatives with the environmental needs and using good science, along with a little bit of lateral thinking, to try to put them together more effectively than in the past," she says. This was exemplified by the research into developing perennial grasses as a millable seed that won the award for Dr Ted Lefroy, from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, and Dr Christine Davies and Mr David Waugh, both from the University of Western Australia. Their work is revealing the potential of native grasses as a crop for land damaged by erosion and salinity. The entry captured the GRDC's vision for the Eureka Prize, of research that achieves more than incremental gains, Dr Mahoney says. "It's about bringing a whole new approach if we can. It really is important that people are thinking a bit differently." Dr Mahoney says the award demon- strates that the grains industry and the environment are "part and parcel of one another. One of the aims of doing this is to highlight -- within the industry and more broadly -- this compatibility by showing that the industry is concerned about envi- ronmental sustainability and that there are some very good things going on." The Eureka Prize fosters pride in recog- nising excellence among scientists and grain growers, and benefits both the indi- viduals and the industry as a whole, she says. "We value our sports people but we don't always value our scientists, and this is a chance to put them up there, and to put agriculture up there with industries that are perceived as more innovative." GRDC RESEARCH CODE PSD6, program 6 For more information: Roger Muller, Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, 02 9320 6230, email@example.com or visit www.amonline.net.au/eureka/ 2 GRDC NEWS & VIEWS FEBRUARY 2004 EDITORIAL OPINION 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. By JOHN HARVEY, executive manager, program operations, Grains Research and Development Corporation Ground Cover is brought to you by growers and the Federal Government through the publisher, the Grains Research and Development Corporation. 02 6272 5525 Fax 02 6271 6430 Write to: The Editor -- Ground Cover PO Box 5367 Kingston ACT 2064 Executive Editor: Ms Maureen Cribb Managing Editor: Brad Collis, Coretext Pty Ltd. 03 9376 6317, fax 03 9318 9364 Design and production: Coretext, www.coretext.com.au Advertising sales: Max Hyde, Hyde Media Pty Ltd. 03 9870 4161; fax 03 9870 4161 email firstname.lastname@example.org Printing: Capital Fine Print, Canberra Circulation: Ms Maureen Cribb, Publications Manager, GRDC, 02 6272 5525 ISSN 1039-6217 Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NAD 3994 This symbol A denotes that the variety is PBR protected. Taste test: researchers Dr Ted Lefroy (left), Mr David Waugh and Dr Christine Davies, the winners of last year's inaugural Eureka Prize for Research to Improve the Environmental Sustainability of Graingrowing, about to sample the native grain crop they are developing in a joint GRDC/RIRDC project. The grain is seed of weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides); the bowl on the left is a large- seeded variety from the south-west of WA and on the right is a smaller seeded variety from south- east Australia. Australia's graingrowers will be hearing more about developing their business through the quality assurance program Graincare, after the program's administration was transferred to Industry Services Australia. This followed a competitive tender process. Previously run by the Grains Council of Australia, Graincare will develop a more commercial focus to increase grower awareness of the program's benefits. Lindsay Spencer, the general manager of accreditation company Industry Services Australia, says Graincare will be actively promoted: "There are benefits at both ends of the supply chain -- growers and consumer," he says. The GRDC and the Grains Council will continue to support Graincare and will be closely involved in Graincare's progress and future development. Graincare is a grower- developed code of practice for protecting food and feed safety. It contains 13 elements that set the standard for grain production. These cover obtaining and storing chemicals, crop management, harvesting and harvesting equipment, and document control. There are two stages to becoming a Graincare grower. Growers must first register with the voluntary program to obtain their on-farm quality assurance manual, which outlines practices required to become accredited. Growers must then undergo an independent audit of the practices they have in place to meet the code's requirements. "Users of Australian grain know the importance of on-farm quality assurance for food and feed safety," Mr Spencer says. "We will be looking to have them convey this message to grain growers." GRDC RESEARCH CODE GCA17, program 5 For more information: Lindsay Spencer, 02 9428 6144 or 1300 781 411 outside NSW; email@example.com or visit www.graincare.com.au The grains industry has a strong record of innovation -- of embracing breakthrough improvements that were driven by the pressures of change. Whether the changes were agronomic, environmental or economic, each has offered opportunities to strengthen the industry and, ultimately, benefit growers. This thirst for innovation comes from a shared understanding that innovation is our industry's lifeblood. This is particularly true of the technological advances that were sparked by the search for solutions to environmental issues. Many have been enormously successful and adopted nationally because they have delivered broader benefits. The rise of reduced tillage in Western Australia is just one example. It was originally pushed by the community's concern with landscape sustainability but produced phenomenal increases in productivity. Controlled traffic is another example that started as a way to control soil compaction but is significantly improving both efficiency and productivity. Soil is a common link for a range of innovations that are highlighted in this issue of Ground Cover. We have reports on how the hard-won lessons from Western Australia and Canada are being shared with the new Victorian No-till Farmers Association (pages 10 and 11). This willingness of grower groups to have a look over the fence and learn from each other -- even when the "fence" is a state or national border -- greatly accelerates the spread of better farming practices. It has been a conscious strategy of the GRDC, even from its earliest projects, including one for controlled traffic that funded exchange visits by grower groups across Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. The next wave of innovations is coming from beneath our feet and transforming how we understand the parts of our plants that we cannot see -- and especially the soil itself. We have tended to look at soils as a bulk commodity -- a substrate in which you sit the plant. As the special supplement reporting on our soil biology initiative reveals, soil is incredibly heterogeneous in ways not previously apparent from homogenous soil tests. Some of the work that we have funded has discovered vast differences in the concentrations of vital nutrients at the point of contact between the soil and the root itself. We now know, for example, that wheat plants are exuding chemicals that change their root environment. This exciting work on the interaction between soil, microbe and plant promises to unlock even greater productivity for growers as it becomes the basis of a new generation of plants that can better cope with Australia's hostile soils. Innovation is our industry's lifeblood $10,000 prize rewards environment research Graincare to focus on grower benefit GRDC Investment Plan 2004-05 The GRDC's Investment Plan 2004-05 drew a strong response from the research community. "The response to the Investment Plan has been excellent," says the GRDC's Executive Manager Program Operations, John Harvey. "We've received well over 200 responses to the 22 tenders that were in the investment plan, which was published on the 1st of October 2003 on the GRDC website. "Program teams are currently going through and assessing tenders and they will be making recommendations to the GRDC about which tender responses we proceed with." As part of the selection process, the GRDC may negotiate further with the preferred tenderers to ensure that maximum benefit is gained for the grains industry, he says. The Five Year Strategic Plan, 'Driving Innovation' is fulfilling the GRDC's mandate to plan, invest in and oversee research and development that benefits both Australian graingrowers and the general community.
Ground Cover 049 April-May 2004 - North
Ground Cover 047 November-December 2003 - North