The unique Adama Australia Motorbike Crop Trial Tours - WA, which was held through the State’s Great Southern and South Coast regions, even attracted late interest from a group of Queensland growers who were so impressed by the idea they have since made an early booking for next year.
The tour highlighted a range of research into crop disease, weed control and growth regulation, as well as varieties, soil amelioration, nutrition and sowing systems, also being conducted by local grower groups, other agribusinesses and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and some with funding from GRDC.
Blended with camping, wine tasting, campfire ballads, a ride up and down one of the region’s major tourist sites, Bluff Knoll, supporting local suppliers and concluding at the home of Butterfield Beef near Borden, the event was a recipe for success and some great rural bonding.
Adama Australia’s market development manager - WA, Bevan Addison, said planning for the motorbike tour and setting up appropriate trials for the event commenced in March in conjunction with agricultural consultant Graham Laslett and was also assisted by local agronomist Tim Trezise.
The tour group comprised of about 20 motorbikes and a number of cars, with growers from Esperance around to Badgingarra keen to join the event and view the range of trials.
A barley disease trial is investigating various fungicides for control of spot form net blotch, particularly with the concern over developing resistance to triazole fungicides.
Bevan said this was probably the major disease of barley in WA and had long been treated with cost-effective triazole fungicides such as propiconazole.
“Double fungicide sprays have increased in recent years, without rotating fungicide groups, and this has caused some resistance to develop. Unfortunately, it also appears that once one triazole has become less effective, the particular population will be cross-resistant to other triazoles to varying degrees,’’ Bevan said.
He said there were various dual mode of action products available which, when used prior to resistance emerging, could help delay its onset and spread, hence it was critical for growers to start using the full range of options.
Topnotch, a new fungicide from Adama expected to be registered soon containing azoxystrobin and propiconazole, and which has shown good results against spot form net blotch and various other diseases, is being compared against several standards in the trial.
Adama has also combined with Sacoa in the trial to assess the benefits of a novel approach to disease involving Topnotch mixed with Biopest, a highly refined paraffinic oil that has fungicidal properties. Biopest can act as a preventative product when sprayed early or, when sprayed as part of a fungicide mix, can assist fungicide entry into plant as well as provide a protectant effect.
A wild radish control trial with two treatment timings at a site under heavy weed pressure is comparing the performance of different herbicides according to weed size, shading levels, crop coverage and competition.
Bevan said in the southern region, spraying had generally been undertaken at a later timing, allowing all weeds to emerge, however he said broadleaf weed competition could result in $50-$60 per hectare per week in lost yield for every week spraying was delayed.
“Weeds also become larger and harder to control, and shading of some plants results in ‘escapes’ that have been subjected to sub-lethal doses of herbicide, causing a continuous problem.’’
“There are generally lower levels of radish in Great Southern crops, however testing has shown there is actually a fairly high level of resistance in some populations.
“Southern growers should learn from the mistakes of northern farmers – they are in the box seat to avoid the same issues occurring for them. It is far better to spray early using a residual herbicide and to then spray again if needed. Small weeds will be controlled better, crop yields are improved and resistance management is much better.’’