Growing ADAMA 2-Wheel Trial Tour hits the mark

It appears the concept of a spring crop trials tour on motorcycles complete with swags for camping over several days, which was originally devised by the Adama team in Western Australia last year, is striking a chord with growers and industry.

The company’s second 2-Wheel Trial Tour in WA this week, which moved from the state’s Great Southern and South Coast regions last year up to the Avon Valley this season, attracted an increased number of motorcycle riders, including from across the Nullarbor.

A group of enthusiastic riders from New South Wales Elders agency, B&W Rural at Moree, and the wider area joined the tour, as well as another Elders agronomist and grower clients from Victoria. WA growers on the tour came from as far as Northampton around to Bremer Bay.

In addition to viewing a range of trials investigating weed and disease control, including showcasing the use of developmental products, as well as crop safety, soil health and frost management, participants enjoyed both open road and dirt riding as they travelled from near Brookton up to York, where they also took in a visit to WhiteGum Farm and its flight facility, before returning to Brookton.

Rather than inspecting only the company’s trials, the Adama team also worked closely with a range of other companies and organisations, including SACOA, Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI), Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and consultancy groups, Farmanco, agVivo and Living Farm, to highlight a broad spectrum of research. Several trials are being coordinated with funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Ben Cripps, who joined the tour from Northampton, said it was excellent Adama included trials on the tour from different organisations, while he also enjoyed meeting other like-minded people from across Australia.

Adama Market Development Manager - WA, Bevan Addison, said the weed control trials featured one of the company’s new products due for release in 2021, Ultro 900 WG, a Group E herbicide for grass weed control in grain legume crops. It is being compared with existing products in lupin and field pea crops.

Bevan said Ultro 900 would provide excellent control of annual ryegrass, brome grass, barley grass and self-sown cereals in all grain legume crops.

“It will be a great rotational option, giving good weed control and helping to reduce the reliance on other pre-emergent herbicides such as Countdown, Sakura and propyzamide,’’ Bevan said.

Post-emergent herbicide mixes are always of interest and another trial investigating grass and broadleaf herbicide options featured an experimental adjuvant product from SACOA code-named BEXA.

Bevan said this research, which was in its third season and showing some promising results, was targeting robust weed control and improved crop safety with some of the mixes that can sometimes damage crops.

The AHRI trial kicked-off the tour with a focus on a systems approach to weed control.

“Robust systems are critical for all aspects of our farming enterprises and we need to get the balance right between profitability and sustainability,’’ Bevan said.

Northampton grower Ben Cripps (centre) shares breakfast with Casey Onus, Brad Donald, Michael Brosnan and Rory Kerlin, agronomists from B&W Rural at Moree, Mungindi and Goondiwindi, who made the trip west for the tour.
Adama commercial manager - WA Susie Mason (centre) joins riders at a morning tea break at a trial site near Beverley.
Rebecca Smith, Living Farm, welcomes riders to the long-term frost management site jointly coordinated by DPIRD and Living Farm, south-west of Beverley.
Riders arrive at the post-emergent grass and broadleaf herbicide mixtures site in barley, east of York.

Disease was once again a strong component of the tour program in canola, field peas and cereals this season.

A GRDC trial in conjunction with Farmanco in canola is taking a closer look at blackleg disease, which has been on the rise both early and late with crops, while resistance has also been shown to some of the key fungicides being used.

“GRDC and plant breeders are looking at options and we are doing the same at Adama. We have had a blackleg project running for several seasons now and we are starting to see some promising options as an alternative to the traditional use of flutriafol fungicide, which is starting to come under pressure,’’ Bevan said.

He said field peas were starting to have a resurgence with some growers largely to help with management of soil-borne pathogen such as nematodes, as well as soil nitrogen supply.

“Tight cereal rotations on various farms have led to a build-up of soil-borne pathogen, which needs an effective break crop.’’

“We now have better field pea varieties as well as a major component of the system, fungicide packages, available, such as Veritas, which can help reduce disease burdens and increase standability of crops, making harvest easier and hopefully capturing more grain.

“Veritas has become an important product for eastern states pea growers and while the area cropped in WA is much smaller, it is gaining momentum here as well. We showcased it in faba beans on last year’s crop trials tour and this season in peas.’’

Bevan said strong barley rotations have also led to increased spot form net blotch as the major pathogen for many growers.

He said with resistance to triazole fungicides confirmed in many populations, a trial was being coordinated to assess SACOA’s Biopest product, in addition to commercial fungicides including the newly released Topnotch, which contained propiconazole and azoxystrobin.

“Propiconazole has been the backbone for net blotch control in WA and, combined with azoxystrobin in a unique formulation package, it will have a great fit for a full suite of wheat and barley diseases, but particularly in barley.’’

“Similar trials last year showed excellent results from the combination of adjuvant and fungicides and this work will continue to help provide growers with another mode of action in the fight against cereal disease.’’

The tour group also visited a long-term soil amelioration project showing a range of interactions that have related effects on nutrition, weed and disease management, as well as a multi-year frost management site featuring various options designed to provide solutions to the sometimes devastating effects of frost.

Participants who joined the tour from interstate and local areas were pleased to attend the event.

The New South Wales group, who had scarcely seen a winter crop for the last three years, were happy to head west and view some nice crops.

Agronomist Brad Donald said learning about weed resistance and its management, particularly in annual ryegrass, which was becoming a bigger issue in the east, was highly beneficial.

Another fellow agronomist, Casey Onus, said WA growers “do things a little differently and it is very good to see”.

WA consultant and biking enthusiast Graham Laslett was quick to join the tour again this year and praised the event.

“We’re all in common in agriculture and we’re in common in riding bikes. It’s a wonderful thing – it’s great from that point of view.’’

Meanwhile, as part of Adama’s local support toward the Blue Tree Project that is helping to raise awareness around mental wellbeing in rural areas, the company connected with the initiative for its latest tour group and heard from guest speakers during the event.

During the tour, Adama also announced the winner of its Quadrant product promotion, where a Yamaha Wolverine quad bike was up for grabs to growers who purchased the new multi mode of action broadleaf herbicide this season. Dalwallinu grower Paul Sutherland was the lucky winner.