Soil in the spotlight

By Country News on February 11, 2018
  • Soil in the spotlight

    Growers and advisors at the Grains Research Development Corporation Research Update in Wagga Wagga this February will have the opportunity to gain insight into differences around the world when it comes to soil water use and measurement.

Growers and advisors at the Grains Research Development Corporation Research Update in Wagga Wagga this February will have the opportunity to gain insight into differences around the world when it comes to soil water use and measurement.

The update will kick off on February 13 with Nuffield Scholar and Warakirri Cropping manager John Stevenson, who said Australia was a world leader when it came to our ability to produce quality crops in a challenging climate.

Mr Stevenson’s Nuffield study investigated ways to close the gap between potential grain yield and the soil’s plant available water capacity, with a focus on boosting productivity from sustainable dryland cropping systems.

‘‘A yield gap between crop production and available soil moisture exists globally, with Australian dryland growers very efficient compared to our overseas equivalents, but there is further room to improve,’’ Mr Stevenson said.

‘‘We need to do more to visualise our soils in three dimensions to allow us to address limitations in the root zone of crops and optimise inputs to match our soils’ productive capacity.’’

Mr Stevenson said of the technologies he saw overseas, those now in use in Israel had exciting potential for adaption to Australian farms.

‘‘Whole-of-farm wireless connectivity and plant growth tracking are systems now helping Israeli growers to maximise production,’’ he said.

‘‘Long-range wireless area networks allow remote monitoring of thousands of in-field sensors at very low cost.

‘‘Another exciting prospective technique was the use of an in-field penetrometer to measure near infra-red reflectance/adsorption, which was developed by Texas A&M University in collaboration with Sydney University.

‘‘This process allowed growers to get a three-dimensional view of their soil without the disruption of excavation and this technology has now been commercialised.’’

Other speakers include Greg Rebetzke of the CSIRO on breeding wheat to increase competitiveness against weeds, Felicity Harris from the Department of Primary Industries NSW on getting the best performance from barley, and Dale Grey from Agriculture Victoria on the facts and fiction of weather and seasonal forecasting.

■The two-day GRDC Research Update will be held on February 13 and 14, at Joyes Hall, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. To register, go to: www.grdc.com.au/events/list/2018/02/grdc-grains-research-update-wagga-wagga or phone 5441 6176.

By Country News on February 11, 2018

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