GRDC WithTheGrain - Southern Extension Newsletter. Can't see the email click here to view it online.


Medium Rainfall Zone

Welcome from Craig Ruchs,
Manager, Grower Services - South

After a busy start to the year it’s hard to believe that autumn is already upon us and, with that, crops are starting to be drilled into the ground.

February was a particularly busy month in the southern region. The GRDC Updates kicked off in Adelaide in early February followed by Loxton, Bendigo and Rupanyup and separate Russian Wheat Aphid forums at Tarlee and Rupanyup.

Photo of Craig Ruchs

As usual, growers and advisors heard some great presentations from a range of industry experts at the Updates. CSIRO’s Dr John Kirkegaard provoked plenty of thought regarding the key challenges and opportunities facing continuous cropping systems. You can read more about his presentation in the feature story below. A further highlight was a keynote speech from Dr John Manners, CSIRO at the Adelaide Update that gave an insight into some of the big scientific opportunities on the horizon and how these may deliver benefits to Australian agriculture.

We were also fortunate to have Dr Frank Peairs visit from Colorado State University early this year to share his 30 years of knowledge in dealing with the management of Russian wheat aphid (RWA) in the US. Again, you can read more about RWA in one of the stories below.

A number of the Update presentations were filmed this year and I encourage you to head to the GRDC YouTube channel and watch any presentations from Adelaide and Bendigo that may be of benefit to your business.

On top of all this, the new and invigorated Southern Regional Cropping Solutions Networks meet for the first time in February to discuss and prioritise the issues affecting grower profitability in the high, medium and low-rainfall zones of the southern region to help guide future GRDC investment.

In this edition of WithTheGrain™ we look at the profitability of different pulses, getting the best from pre-emergent herbicides and monitoring and controlling mice. I hope you find the information of value and as always, please do get in contact with myself or any member of the GRDC Southern team should you have any suggestions on how we may improve or specific information you would like to hear more of.

As a parting note here are some key considerations for April/May 2017:
  • Plan ahead, timing is everything.
  • Know your varieties, consider phenology and reproductive windows to mitigate the potential effects of disease, frost and/or terminal heat stress.
  • Get your basal and early post fertiliser right, consider high nutrient removal in 2016.
  • Have a plan in place for control of mice and early seedling pests to optimise establishment and get crops off to the best possible start.
Happy sowing and all the best for season 2017.

More Information

Craig Ruchs, 0477 710 813

RCSN update

RCSN profile: Peter Taylor

Victorian grower Peter Taylor, Lubeck, was one of the original members of the GRDC’s Regional Cropping Solutions Networks when they were established in 2012.

The medium-rainfall zone (MRZ) RCSN member always had an interest in farmer groups and when the opportunity arose to become involved with the GRDC as part of the RCSN, he saw it as a natural progression.

Read the full article
  Photo of Victorian grower Peter Taylor

Feature article

Careful management required to sustain continuous cropping

Photo of Dr John Kirkegaard
  There are three key challenges to the future sustainability of continuous cropping systems, according to CSIRO farming systems agronomist Dr John Kirkegaard - maintaining soil fertility, managing weeds, diseases and pests, and managing economic risk and resilience.

However, with careful management, continuous cropping can be maintained while also chasing opportunities to improve yield.

Read the full article

The science of grain growing

Potential to improve barley yields through sowing date and genetic manipulation

There is potential for Australian barley breeders and growers to improve barley yields by manipulating pre-flowering phases with sowing dates and new genetics, according to University of Adelaide PhD student Kenton Porker.

The GRDC investment Manipulating and understanding barley phenology to maximise yield potential has determined there is potential to manipulate the length of the "critical period" which establishes grain number. The pre-flowering developmental stages are critical in determining grain number, which ultimately translates to yield.

Read the full article
  Photo of Adelaide PhD student Kenton Porker

Farm business

Diversity key to maximising pulse profitability

  Recent trials across the southern region have proven break crops, particularly pulses, to be a profitable addition to the cropping rotation. The key however may be in diversity of crop choice due to seasonal variability in the gross margin attained for different pulses.

With cereal prices still appearing unfavourable, the introduction of more diversity into the system through the inclusion of pulse crops could help to both lift returns for many growers as well as delivering long-term farming system benefits, particularly in the low-rainfall zone (LRZ).

Read the full article

Regional agronomy

Facing up to frost

Making plans to manage the risk of frost could help growers reduce the financial impact of crop losses due to frost damage, but it is difficult due to the random nature of occurrence, according to Agrilink Agricultural Consultants principal consultant Mick Faulkner.

In one of the highest production seasons on record in 2016, losses of grain due to frost were estimated at more than $200 million in parts of South Australia's Mid North, Mallee and Upper Eyre Peninsula. 

Read the full article

Be on alert for mice at seeding

Photo of a mouse
  Southern region growers are advised to monitor mouse activity this autumn and, if necessary, be prepared to bait at sowing in order to control the pest.

Monitoring conducted by the CSIRO in conjunction with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre has shown mouse abundance is increasing in parts of the southern region, with significant damage expected at sowing in SA and in particular areas of Victoria.

Read the full article

IPM required in future management of RWA

An integrated pest management approach incorporating cultural, biological and chemical control will be integral in the ongoing management of the Russian wheat aphid (RWA) in the southern region.

Since its incursion in south-eastern Australia last year, the pest has been found in almost every major grain growing region of the southern region.

Read the full article

Competitive crops, pre-ems a great pairing

Photo of Dr Chris Preston
  Sowing early or on time to encourage crop competition against weeds can help prolong the effectiveness of pre-emergent herbicides, says University of Adelaide researcher Dr Chris Preston.

Research by Dr Preston's colleague Dr Peter Boutsalis has found resistance to trifluralin is on the rise, emphasising the need to reduce reliance on chemical controls and incorporate as many cultural controls as possible through integrated weed management (IWM).

Read the full article

GRDC resources 

Southern region agronomy update
Have you read the latest GRDC products including Paddock Practices in-depth articles, PestFacts and AHRI insight?

Useful Resources
The GRDC is a one-stop shop for growers looking to optimise and improve their graingrowing business. Here's a few useful resources to help you!
  • GrowNotes™ - have you read the new GrowNotes for Wheat, Barley and Canola in the Southern region? Find them here
  • GroundCover - the latest edition of GroundCover is available on the GRDC Website now
  • GroundCover TV reports on GRDC funded research, watch now

© Copyright GRDC 2017


Any recommendations, suggestions or opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Grains Research and Development Corporation. No person should act on the basis of the contents of this publication without first obtaining specific, independent, professional advice. The Corporation and contributors to this publication 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. The GRDC will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information in this publication. CAUTION: RESEARCH ON UNREGISTERED PESTICIDE USE. Any research with unregistered pesticides or of unregistered products reported in this document does not constitute a recommendation for that particular use by the authors or the authors organisations. All pesticide applications must accord with the currently registered label for that particular pesticide, crop, pest and region.


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