The Grains Research and Development Corporation's (GRDC's) ‘Hyper Yielding Cereals Project' is focused on bridging the gap between actual and potential grain yields, producing results that are expected to have positive implications for growers both in and beyond Tasmania.
GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies, who attended the most recent Hyper Yielding Cereals Project field day at Hagley in northern Tasmania, said the transformational change being sought through the project is setting the production agenda for the broader grains industry in Australia.
This project has been set the challenge of increasing average Tasmanian red grain feed wheat yields from 4.4 tonnes/hectare to 7 t/ha by 2020, and delivering commercial wheat crops which yield up to14 t/ha by 2020, and Dr Jefferies says it is demonstrating what is possible in Australian grains production.
"The transformational change in yield being achieved through this project is what we really need as an industry going forward," Dr Jefferies said.
"The grains industry in Australia has been very successful over the past 15 to 20 years, growing from $6 billion to $15 billion. It's been a great success story, but we can't do more of the same," he said.
"We're under pressure from global competing markets, growers are experiencing a squeeze on profits due to increasing input, labour and equipment costs, and as an industry we're facing ever-increasing regulatory pressure.
"So, we need to strive for transformational change through our investments in research, development and extension (RD&E)."
The GRDC Managing Director said the GRDC's new five-year RD&E Plan is cognisant of the need for high-impact change to drive grower profitability and one of the plan's 30 Key Investment Targets is centered on closing the gap between actual and potential yield.
"Therefore, this Hyper Yielding Cereal Project is a really important initiative. It's about identification of the right germplasm, combined with good farming systems and good practices, modelled to the environment, so growers can achieve growth in yields and profitability," he said.
"There are lessons that we can learn from this project that can have a huge impact on the profitability of grain growing right across Australia, particularly where there are opportunities in environments conducive to early sowing, especially into stored soil moisture."
Aimed at reducing Tasmania's reliance on supplies from the mainland, the project involves collaboration with international, national and local expertise and breeders. The project is being led by FAR (Foundation for Arable Research) Australia in collaboration with Southern Farming Systems (SFS).
In the project's first year in 2016 (an exceptional year in terms of growing season rainfall and conditions), the results exceeded yield targets; late April-sown wheat yielded more than 16t/ha in experimental plots, and barley sown at the same time yielded in excess of 10t/ha.