Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 048 February-March 2004 - North
By EAMMON CONAGHAN Fresh moves are being made to make Quality Assurance (QA) systems more appealing to graingrowers. For years, agricultural produc- ers, particularly in livestock and horticulture, have been urged to 'adopt' QA systems -- some of which did little to endear the practice to farmers. QA training and the cost of audits in return for sometimes intangible benefits have not made compelling business sense for many producers, according to CBH On-farm QA Co-ordinator, Mr Dave Jeffries. Mr Jeffries is heading CBH's push to develop the BetterFarm IQ (Integrated Quality) program for grains. "CBH is trying to make the QA equation add up for growers by offering genuine rewards for delivering a product with a known history and traceability," he says. "QA growers represent a lower risk to the integrity of grain in the supply chain, which translates into reduced costs for the CBH group and we aim to share that with QA growers by lowering storage and handling charges for them." Interested growers can integrate their on-farm QA into CBH's SQF 2000 program. Under the program, CBH will appraise grower QA systems for less than the annual external audit costs associated with SQF 2000 accreditation. With CBH acting as a 'QA mediator', growers will face less formal SQF audits. While reducing the costs of maintaining a QA program is handy, it is however only one half of the equation. "By integrating growers' quality systems with ours, we have the confidence to trial programs which will deliver grower benefits," Mr Jeffries explains. "For example, we are examining the feasibility of handing grain testing to QA growers so they can declare their own grain quality and by-pass receival point testing when making deliveries. Random checks would be used to qualify grower declarations." This would save growers valuable time during harvest while ensuring that CBH knows the production history of the grain received, rather than knowing only the readings produced by a narrow sample taken at delivery, as is now the case. According to Mr Jeffries, the BetterFarm IQ system aims to bring growers closer to their customers and CBH closer to their suppliers in a partnership. That partnership will be underpinned by a training course for QA growers aimed at reinforcing the importance of meeting quality and safety standards. Equipped with that understanding, CBH believes growers will honour their obligations to SQF. "Growers need to understand our side of the business too. For example, they should know that even one pickled grain in a shipment of malting barley could result in a rejection of the grain and upwards of $10 million in associated costs," Mr Jeffries says. "Our training program will help build that mutual understanding while tailoring a specific QA manual for their farm." According to Hyden grower and GRDC Western Panel chairman Mr Dale Baker, tangible grower benefits for QA accreditation are important to help encourage industry adoption. "In some other agricultural sectors, QA has been dangled as a prerequisite offering little advantage beyond continued access to markets that producers have sold to for years," he says. "The first graingrowers to adopt QA schemes are the ones most likely to capitalise on any advantages while consolidating market share and I therefore commend CBH on a quality initiative which shapes as a win- win for them and growers." For more information: Dave Jeffries, CBH, 08 9454 0358, email@example.com NEWS 8 FEBRUARY 2004 By EAMMON CONAGHAN For years, mathematicians have confronted Australian graingrowers with gloomy figures about encroaching salinity. Well, here is another one. Hydrologists predict that up to one third of arable land in WA will become saline if annual crops are not substantially replaced by deep- rooted perennial species which more effectively dry the soil profile. Many growers have already embraced the message, with lucerne now planted across 150,000 hectares in WA. Other growers are frustratingly short of options because lucerne struggles on acidic and waterlogged soils. However, GRDC-supported Department of Agriculture researcher, Geoff Moore, says efforts to develop new herbaceous perennial pastures are now well advanced. "Several promising perennial legume species have emerged in WA trials, including canary clover (Dorycnium rectum), hairy canary clover (D. hirsutum), sulla (Hedysarum coronarium) and perennial Lotus species (L. creticus, L. cytisoides, L. glaber, L. corniculatus and L. uliginosus)." These species are also being evaluated at a range of other sites across southern Australia through the CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity. In WA, they were assessed for their persistence during the dry summer of 2002-03 and for their seasonal production compared with lucerne. "We're also investigating the livestock interaction, with optimum grazing strategies being determined for key species of canary clovers at the Medina Research Station in collaboration with Lindsay Bell (PhD student)," Mr Moore says. "Their feed quality is also under review to examine the effect of the tannins they contain, which are beneficial at low levels but can reduce feed intake and animal production at levels above 10 percent." The majority of annual legumes used in Australian agriculture originate from the Mediterranean basin, which is characterised by neutral to alkaline, medium to fine-textured soils. In a bid to broaden Australia's germplasm, the GRDC has supported seed and rhizobia collecting missions to regions with acidic soils, such as Turkmenistan. Ranging across its harsh, dry environment under a beating 45C sun, researchers collected more than 65 perennial legume accessions of 22 species. They also collected samples of the soil beneath the plants to isolate the rhizobia bacteria for root nodulation. The effective nodulation of legume roots is integral to plant survival and for fixing atmospheric nitrogen into soils for enhanced production in subsequent cereal crops. The rhizobia for 15 priority species were developed into inoculants at the Centre for Rhizobium Studies at Murdoch University so that Australian field work could begin quickly. This diverse germplasm is being fed into the trial program. Although the Turkmenistan material is yet to be evaluated, more advanced species should be released by 2006. The GRDC is also supporting a major project with the CRC for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity to obtain profitable alternatives to lucerne for improved water use. Page 29: desert mission for hardy scientists GRDC RESEARCH CODE UWA337, program 4 For more information: Geoff Moore, DAWA, 08 9368 3293, firstname.lastname@example.org Tenders called for testing system The GRDC is to invite tenders for a national, independent, pre-release assessment of new crop varieties, and hopes to have a national testing system in place by the end of the financial year. This follows some concern among growers that moves to commercialise plant breeding may erode the standards for comparing new grain varieties. The GRDC's executive manager of program operations, John Harvey, says growers have historically relied on state agriculture departments to test new varieties and provide comparative performance data. "However, this system had to change once the public sector wheat breeding programs consolidated into three competing groups and private sector wheat breeding entities announced their intention to compete for market share." He says the proposed national testing system would make sure growers had access to independent and credible information. Long career honoured CSIRO Plant Industry scientist Mick Poole has been awarded the 2003 Urrbrae Memorial Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Australian agriculture. In a career spanning 38 years, Mr Poole has led ground-breaking research in pastures, the development of new crops and crop varieties, the impact and management of weeds and weed/crop competition and reduced tillage systems. Established in 1975, the Urrbrae Memorial Award is presented every two years to an individual Australian researcher. Mr Poole was nominated by the GRDC. ID guide for annual weed Fumitory is an annual weed that has been a particular problem in conventional canola crops in recent years. Identification of the seven different fumitory (Fumaria) species found in a survey of the cropping zones of southern New South Wales, South Australia and northern Victoria should become easier using a new identification guide compiled by the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management. The guide can be downloaded from the CRC's site on www.weeds.crc.org.au/ publications/fact_sheets.html. Chickpeas for heavy land Graingrowers on Western Australia's heavier land are expected to lead interest in an ascochyta blight resistant kabuli chickpea variety to be released soon. With GRDC support, the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture began screening 1500 chickpea lines in Turkey in 1998, before importing 335 of the most resistant to Australia. Two elite lines have been selected for release next year. For more information, contact Professor Kadambot Siddique, 08 9380 7012. Diary dates Friday 20 February, 'What is New in the Cropping World', a seminar by the Weed Society of Victoria in Horsham. Details 03 9576 2949 or email email@example.com. February 22-23, Gene Technology Work- shops, Canberra, organised by Agrifood Awareness Australia and Partners in Grain. Contact Nickie Berrisford 03 5247 2928 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. February 23-26, New Generation Grain Growers Agribusiness Forum, Rutherglen: Partners in Grain Vic/Tas and NSW present workshops, case studies and industry tours in a FarmBis funding approved course. Contact Nickie Berrisford on 03 5247 2928 or email email@example.com. NEWS IN BRIEF QA to help growers share in handling gains Quality initiative: adding up the QA equation. Win-win benefits: Hyden grower Dale Baker. Deep-rooted lucerne alternatives Leg work: Geoff Moore assesses a perennial nursery trial.
Ground Cover 049 April-May 2004 - North
Ground Cover 047 November-December 2003 - North