CROPPING

Research collaboration kicks off two new grains projects

TWO new grains projects are underway as part of a collaborative research effort which aims to provide insights for boosting farming resilience, profitability and sustainability.

Staff Writer
 WA Agricultural Research Collaboration director, Dr Kelly Pearce (left), DPIRD genetic improvement portfolio manager, Dr Darshan Sharma, DPIRD and Murdoch University principal research scientist, Dr Ron Yates, and GRDC senior regional manager (West), Peter Bird, with lupin and legumes research trial plants at Murdoch University. Photo courtesy of DPIRD.

WA Agricultural Research Collaboration director, Dr Kelly Pearce (left), DPIRD genetic improvement portfolio manager, Dr Darshan Sharma, DPIRD and Murdoch University principal research scientist, Dr Ron Yates, and GRDC senior regional manager (West), Peter Bird, with lupin and legumes research trial plants at Murdoch University. Photo courtesy of DPIRD.

The Western Australian Agricultural Research Collaboration has announced the five-year Lupin Disease Resistance and four-year Harvestable Annual Legume Options (HALO) projects will kick off its Grains Transformation program, which is one of six key programs developed by the collaboration.

The Lupin Disease Resistance project is focused on boosting lupin resistance to its four major diseases, while the HALO project is exploring harvestable annual legumes cultivars that can be used in rotation to reduce synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.

The grains projects are a co-investment between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the collaboration, including its seven partners- the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), CSIRO, Grower Group Alliance, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and the University of WA.

WA Agricultural Research Collaboration director, Kelly Pearce, said the collaboration is committed to delivering impactful and enduring research outcomes that align with WA's agricultural priorities and these projects have exciting potential benefits for industry.

"It is wonderful to see these grains projects get off the ground and to mark another collaboration milestone since our first Northern Agriculture project was announced in May - the Cropping Enabled Cattle initiative," Pearce said.

DPIRD genetic improvement portfolio manager, Darshan Sharma, said the Lupin Disease Resistance project would help deliver future narrow-leafed lupin varieties with improved resistance to its major diseases: phomopsis, cucumber mosaic virus, anthracnose and sclerotinia.

"We will share the outputs from this exciting project with pre-breeders and breeders to ensure future varieties require less disease management, maintain yield stability and deliver better outcomes for WA growers and farming systems," Sharma said.

The HALO research team has also hit the ground running, according to DPIRD and Murdoch University principal research scientist, Ron Yates, who said they have been gathering and evaluating harvestable annual legumes that are suitable to grow productively throughout the WA agro-ecological zones.

Yates said incorporating legumes into crop rotations could reduce risk in the farming system by cutting fertiliser costs and allowing for better management of weeds, pests and diseases with positive flow-on effects for the environment.

"The biggest challenge is finding those with the right hard-seed breakdown profile for dormant summer sowing establishment," he said.

In addition to the Grains Transformation project, the collaboration has developed five other themes- Northern Agriculture, Climate Resilience, Agricultural Technologies, Aboriginal Participation, and Capacity Building and Extension.

It plans to continue designing and developing projects that maximise the impact and reach of current agricultural research, fund research gaps, attract more research dollars into WA, build capacity, and leverage the State's collective research talent.

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