Mysteries of soil and nitrogen to be probed at Jamestown

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Making better use of soil moisture and nitrogen will be a major focus of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Update at Jamestown on August 19.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair David Shannon said improving efficiencies in the use of moisture and nutrients was an important investment for the GRDC and keenly sought by growers in South Australia’s Mid North.

“While the situation has improved somewhat in 2009, it wasn’t all that long ago when fertiliser prices went through the roof and had a big impact on the profitability of grain producers,” Mr Shannon said.

“Growers can’t control fertiliser prices or the weather, but there are systems they can implement which improve the efficiency with which growers use moisture and nutrients.

“Measuring moisture and nutrient levels in the soil, and understanding how different soil types behave, are key elements in improving water-use efficiency and nutrient-use efficiency. These topics will be explored in great detail by a panel of consultants including Mick Faulkner, Peter Hooper and Barry Mudge.”

Mr Shannon said that a presentation on developments in biotechnology would be of considerable interest to growers.

“Genetically modified wheat and barley could be a reality sooner than we think,” he said. “Researchers are aiming to build qualities such as frost and drought tolerance into these varieties, and we’ll hear about the latest developments including field trials.”

Other topics to be covered at the Jamestown GRDC Update include a comprehensive review of the benefits and limitations of discs by a panel including Greg Butler of the SA No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA) and Port Pirie farmer Ashley Afford, a panel of consultants discussing topical seasonal issues with a focus on diseases, and a presentation on weed management by Dr Chris Preston of the University of Adelaide.

Mr Shannon said a talk about establishing a cost-effective on-farm grain storage system was of particular importance to the industry.

“There has been a significant rise in the capacity of on-farm grain storage recently, and it’s vital to the future of the entire grains industry in Australia that best practice is strictly followed when fumigating stored grain,” he said.

The GRDC Update will be held at the Jamestown Football Club from 9am on August 19. Registration commences from 8.30am.

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