Strong focus on soils at Cummins GRDC Update

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Probing soil moisture and building soil carbon will be key topics explored at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Update at Cummins on August 11.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair David Shannon said growers on the lower Eyre Peninsula often dealt with ‘difficult’ soils and were keen for information to assist them in managing their soils.

“The lower Eyre Peninsula is a very productive region; this is a testament to local growers and, in part, their efforts to overcome constraints on production imposed by variable soil conditions,” Mr Shannon said.

“Peter Hooper of the Hart Field Site Group will deliver a presentation on soil moisture measurement and linking soil moisture levels to management decisions. The Hart group has been closely involved in the ongoing development of the Yield Prophet computer modelling tool, and Peter will talk about the role it can play in management decisions.

“Another important topic to be covered at Cummins will be soil carbon. Clive Kirkby of the CSIRO will discuss how to build and maintain soil organic matter, the roles played by different forms of organic soil carbon, and whether or not growers can profit from storing carbon in the soil.”

Mr Shannon said weed management was also a key focus of the Update.

“Dr Chris Preston of the University of Adelaide is a popular speaker at GRDC Updates, and growers will be looking forward to his discussion about weed management,” he said. “Chris will discuss how weeds can sometimes drive cropping rotations, the importance of driving down the weed seed bank, additional strategies such as crop topping, and rotations to overcome ryegrass.

“Chris will be followed by John Heap from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), who will talk about the merits of using precision agriculture (PA) techniques in weed control.”

Mr Shannon said fellow Southern Regional Panel members would be involved in the program at Cummins.

“We are privileged to have this sort of expertise on the panel,” he said. “Dr Allan Mayfield and Dr Mark Peoples of CSIRO Plant Industry will deliver a presentation on managing nitrogen nutrition, focusing on post-seeding nitrogen, budgeting and various fertiliser products, and legumes as a cost-effective source of nitrogen.”

Also featuring at the Cummins GRDC Update will be developments in biotechnology, a discussion panel on current local seasonal issues, and a presentation on trial results from the Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association (LEADA).

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