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Post Conference Field Trips

Tour 1: Participatory Research & Adopting Agronomy

Tour Leaders: Tracey Gianatti and Ken Flower

The WA No-tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) Spring field day is one of Australia’s leading conservation and agronomic field days. Situated in Meckering, approximately 130km east of Perth, the field day is an opportunity to interact with farmers and agronomists from around WA. Using a ‘Choose your own adventure’ timetable, you will be able to see trials and demonstrations including: no-tillage practice and technology; long-term stubble management; raised bed cropping and the use of annual pasture species as cover crops.

In addition, there will be a chance to visit a Sustainable Grazing of Saline Land (SGSL) site where a transect experiment is being conducted to determine the optimal location of a range of perennial and annual saltland pasture species and whether rows of old man saltbush can act as ‘biological drains’ to lower the water table.

WANTFA (www.wantfa.com.au) is a core member of the Grower Group Alliance project funded by the GRDC, and is delighted to be able to ‘show off’ a large range of no-tillage trials and demonstrations to attendees at the ASA conference. Tracey Gianatti has been working with grower groups for the past eight years. She is the coordinator for the Alliance working with more than 15 grower groups across the WA wheatbelt to increase farmers’ ability to access information to improve their farm business decisions. Ken Flower is Research Officer for WANTFA

Tour 2: New Pasture Systems for Short Growing Season Landscapes

Tour Leaders: Clinton Revell and Phil Nichols.

This tour will examine new pasture systems along a medium to low rainfall transect extending 180km east from Perth into the central wheatbelt. The tour will focus on four themes:

i) cropping systems incorporating new annual pasture legumes;

ii) perennial pastures for reducing groundwater recharge and increasing out-of-season feed supply;

iii) saltland pastures for increased productivity and profitability of saline land; and

iv) genetic resources and seed production of new pasture varieties.

The first stop will be a property in Meckering, 130km east of Perth, where we will discuss issues surrounding the role of perennial pastures in Mediterranean systems. Lucerne has been a key perennial species in this region. We then travel due east to Cunderdin to view a variety trial of aerial seeding annual pasture species, including biserrula, an entirely new species of pasture plant. We will have the opportunity to discuss with a local property owner how he/she is integrating pastures into a new farming system and the specific processes involved.

After lunch, we will be joined by Ed Barrett-Lennard and a local grower who will talk us through a Sustainable Grazing of Saline Land (SGSL) site in Tammin including issues of salinity, waterlogging and pasture options for salt affected lands. Finally, we return westwards, stopping in Muresk to view pasture management and cultivar trials.

Clinton Revell, Phil Nichols and Ed Barrett-Lennard work for the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, South Perth. They work extensively across the wheatbelt with growers to integrate new pasture species into the farming system.

Tour 3: Value Adding past the farm gate: The lifecycle of a barley grain & fertiliser granule

Tour Leader: Alan Meldrum

Morning Tour

Follow the lifecycle of a barley grain, starting at the Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) Metro Grain centre. Here we will tour the grain receival centre and new lupin dehulling plant, which has created new opportunities for value adding in WA. The next stop along the value adding chain is to Joe White Maltings where we will view barley transforming into premium malt. Finally, we visit the Swan Brewery where we will be able to sample the final product of the conversion of premium malt into beer. The bus will return to the Parmelia Hilton for lunch.

Afternoon Tour

On this tour, we will visit CSBP’s fertiliser manufacturing and soil testing laboratories. CSBP is the largest supplier of fertiliser for agriculture in WA. It also runs the largest soil analysis laboratory in the southern hemisphere, conducting plant and soil analysis for all customers, not just CSBP clients.

This tour will highlight the critical role that fertiliser plays in farming the relatively infertile sandy soils of WA, and how CSBP develops fertiliser products to match production in WA broadacre agriculture.

Alan Meldrum is pulse development officer for WA for Pulse Australia, and has a wide experience in WA’s dryland grains industries.

Tour 4: Soils, Landscapes, and Production Systems: Exploring Diversity in Avon Valley Farming Systems

Tour Leaders: Doug Abrecht and Jeff Russell

This tour explores medium and high rainfall mixed farming systems with particular emphasis on landscapes, soils and production systems. The farming systems are highly productive, mixed crop and pasture systems which produce grain, hay, meat and wool. There are also areas of horticulture on the western fringe of the zone.

The tour crosses the Darling scarp, travelling through horticultural areas, then water catchment and forests before arriving at the agricultural area west of Brookton. We will then travel north through high rainfall, agricultural landscapes to Beverley and York and visit the Muresk campus of Curtin University. The morning focuses on landscapes and production systems and the afternoon on innovative solutions to emerging problems in the farming system.

Tour 5: High rainfall farming systems tour: Increasing yields through better water management

Tour Leaders: Narelle Simpson, Ron McTaggart, Wal Anderson, Heping Zhang

This full day tour will take you through the beautiful Great Southern region into the high rainfall cropping zone of WA (> 450 mm) with over one million hectares ultimately suitable for cropping (wheat, barley, canola, lupins, oats) and an estimated potential to produce over six million tonnes of grain.

The high rainfall cropping zone in Western Australia has yet to reach its full potential in crop production, as farmers shift between intensive livestock and grain production systems.

Despite encouraging advances in recent years many challenges and opportunities remain in both research and farming. Both of these will be illustrated during the tour with visits to CSIRO and DAWA research sites looking at resource capture and tactical nitrogen management, and with the experiences of local farmers who have moved strongly into cropping.

All tour leaders are experienced in the high rainfall area and active in the current research and extension efforts to manage the water, soil and plant resources in an interactive, profitable and co-operative way.

Enjoy the splendour of the Great Southern and experience some very innovative approaches to research in high rainfall systems.

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