NSW researchers unearth key driver of crop yield - and profits

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Irrigated croppers, prepare to change it up: new research suggests that planting suitable varieties of wheat and canola is a key driver of yields – and grower profits.

A field of Australian wheat: Wheat and canola trials in NSW's Riverina district show that planting suitable varieties is a key driver of both yield and grower profits.
Wheat and canola trials being conducted in NSW's Riverina district show that planting suitable varieties is a key driver of both yield and grower profits.
CSIRO

With water often scarce (and increasingly costly), many irrigated cropping enterprises across Australia’s south-eastern states are suffering. Fortunately, help is at hand, thanks to a joint project between NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), who are trialling new canola and wheat varieties in a bid to identify those best suited to conditions across Australia's south-eastern states. The project's overarching goal is to find ways to boost crop yields and grower profits

The project "aims to add vigour to irrigated farming systems by lifting yield and profit from wheat and canola crops”, explains NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) southern cropping director Deb Slinger.

Results from the first year of trials suggest that planting the right varieties is a key driver of both.

DPI research and development agronomist Tony Napier, who leads the project in the Riverina, is looking at what varieties work best for irrigated systems, and how time of sowing, plant density and nitrogen management affect productivity and yield.

Canola crop near Binalong, NSW: Canola and wheat varieties are being trialled at two sites in the Riverina district.
Canola and wheat varieties are being trialled at two sites in the Riverina district of NSW.
Jan Smith, Flickr CC

“Choice of variety for irrigated wheat and canola has been identified at Leeton and Coleambally sites as the major driver of yield in the first year of a three-year investigation,” Slinger says. “There’s potential to increase the area sown to canola by 25 per cent if we can lift yields to consistently deliver four tonnes per hectare. Irrigated wheat has the potential to yield more than 10 tonnes per hectare.

“We aim to reach those goals by giving growers variety-specific information on agronomy management, water use efficiency and profitability,” she says.

The DPI will be showcasing the project and giving growers practical advice based on their results to date at Yanco Agricultural Institute Open Day on 30 October 2015. 

The Riverina trials are part of a larger project that is developing region-specific management packages that can be used by farmers across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

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