Keith Trial Walk

Topics include;

Dealing with Russian Wheat Aphids – the latest research, an agronomic update on NVT trials at Keith (cereals/pulses), tips for success with Chickpeas and Lentils, and a soil moisture probe network and data platform update & information with Shane Oster, Alpha Group.

SARDI’s Maarten Van Helden gave an update on his Russian Wheat Aphid (RWA) trials at Keith. He reported very low numbers (probably due to the dry year) in the canola and none in the cereals. So, they have added aphids to the trial to see how they behave! The aim was to obtain a high infestation rate so they could yield good information. He believes it is not important to have zero aphids but prevent yield loss.

The wheat and barley have been infested and the researchers are heading to the trials every two weeks to count aphids. Two have been inoculated to assess any chemical resistance. The question was asked about them migrating to nearby crops but RWA do not migrate if they can help it; they stay on the plant until it starts drying off. Maarten spoke about the early panic caused by RWA due to the wet summer of 2016 but it seems they are not a huge threat in the MRZ. There have been numbers found on barley grass so this is another area of research, looking at controlling green bridge in summer.

Amanda Pearce from SARDI spoke about the second year, science based trial looking at the economic value of oats and barley (& agronomic value). The Keith trial is looking at mixed farming options, so forage and hay crops are included in the research.

Shane Oster of the Alpha group provided a demonstration of the soil moisture probe network and data platform that is now able to be accessed by members on the MFMG website. The site is fully interactive compared to static snap shots previously received and this allows the user to read the data and learn how to best use the site. As an example he showed that in August, water was down to 80cm at the trial site, which is a surprising finding for Keith!