The repercussions from a wet and high-yielding 2016 cropping season are expected to present an array of opportunities and challenges for South Australian grain growers this year.
Significant sub-soil moisture levels across the State offer growers a promising foundation ahead of sowing, but careful management of summer weeds, soil nutrients, diseases and pests will be required over the coming months to ensure yield and profit potential is not compromised.
This is the scenario that was painted at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 2017 Adelaide Grains Research Update, attended by more than 350 growers, advisers and grains industry personnel from throughout SA and beyond.
GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley told Update attendees that preserving stored soil moisture will be a priority for growers.
“Following heavy rainfall in 2016 and over the past month or so, control of summer weeds which rob the soil of moisture and nutrients will be an extremely important requirement,” Mr Pengilley said.
“Summer weeds and volunteer cereals also harbour insect pests and diseases, so eliminating that green bridge will be a fundamental task.
“And with 2016’s high-yielding crops creating an abundance of food supply, mice will be another potential issue at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Slugs and snails in high rainfall areas could again be a problem this year, and decisions will need to be made around best management of heavy stubble loads.”
Mr Pengilley said 2016 had underlined the importance of creating adaptable farming systems – those that are able to withstand the challenges associated with extreme weather conditions and environmental and biological pressures such as the incursion of Russian wheat aphid which was detected for the first time in Australia in SA’s Mid North last year.
“Recognising this need, the GRDC invests in research, development and extension to equip growers with the knowledge and tools required to enable them to capitalise on opportunities and reduce their exposure to risk by developing flexible, profitable and resilient farming systems,” he said.