Grains of truth

By Country News

Can small data be used to make big decisions for improved farm profitability in Victoria’s cropping belt?

That will be the question posed to the state’s grains industry by Terry Griffin from Kansas State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics who will headline the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Grains Research Update in Bendigo on February 27 and 28.

Assistant Professor Griffin will explain how small data can be collated and analysed for important on-farm decision-making, reflecting on lessons learned from experience in the United States.

Dr Griffin will be one of many world-leading experts at the research update who will deliver revealing insights and new knowledge emerging from investments in grains research, development and extension.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley said the update at Ulumbarra Theatre would present information critical to informing growers’ tactical decision-making for the 2018 cropping season and into the future.

‘‘The update each year plays a key role in influencing practice change and uptake of new technologies by growers, to underpin continued improvements within their farming systems and opportunities for profit growth,’’ Mr Pengilley said.

With the theme of ‘‘strategic steps, enduring profit’’, Mr Pengilley said the update would be attended by hundreds of agronomists, consultants, researchers, growers and other grains industry personnel.

Keynote speakers include Pulse Australia chairman Ron Storey, who will provide his thoughts on the status of the nation’s rapidly expanding pulse industry. Mr Storey will discuss the sustainability of demand and prices for pulses, new opportunities and key messages from recent global forums.

In another keynote address, Chris Preston from the University of Adelaide will bring the Victorian grains industry up to date on the state’s herbicide resistance situation.

Dr Preston will also explain the measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk of resistance occurring in the future.

The art of communicating science and maintaining peak performance will be the subjects of additional plenary sessions during the update, presented by Jennifer Metcalfe (Econnect Communication) and former Australian Football League high performance coach Mark McKeon (MMA TEAM Pty Ltd) respectively.

Management of Septoria tritici blotch and powdery mildew will be among the relevant agronomic issues to be covered on day one, along with management tips for pulse crops, a review of high rainfall wheat and barley, cereal diseases in 2018, new knowledge on Russian wheat aphid, optimising value from the National Variety Trials Online service, optimal performance from inoculants, and weather and seasonal forecasting.

Other day one topics include recent fungicide resistance discoveries, the effects of stubble on nitrogen tie-up and supply, countering blackleg disease in canola, brome grass and other emerging problem weeds, improving barley performance in the low rainfall zone, and emerging research from university students.