Hor­sham shines in crop-dis­ease work

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - AgLife -

Hor­sham’s rep­u­ta­tion as an in­ter­na­tional hub for grains re­search con­tin­ues to grow, es­pe­cially in work in­volv­ing crop dis­ease.

Dis­ease rat­ings from more than 55,000 com­monly grown, no­tyet-re­leased and ex­per­i­men­tal ce­real lines will be the re­sult of re­search in Hor­sham this year.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria se­nior plant pathol­o­gist Dr Grant Holl­away said rig­or­ous and dis­ease data, pro­duced in a timely man­ner, was en­hanc­ing the sta­tus of the de­part­ment’s ce­real-dis­ease nurs­ery in Hor­sham.

“Thanks to a pur­pose-built pre­ci­sion plot seeder ca­pa­ble of plant­ing more va­ri­eties across fewer hectares, Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria is well po­si­tioned to rapidly screen wheat and bar­ley lines and to iden­tify any new patho­types that might emerge,” he said.

“The seeder plants at a rate of 3000 in­di­vid­ual rows per hour, which helps us run a very ef­fi­cient pro­gram.”

Dr Holl­away said this year his team would screen about 55,000 wheat and bar­ley lines for 10 dif­fer­ent fo­liar dis­eases, in­clud­ing cul­ti­vars in this year’s Na­tional Va­ri­ety Tri­als.

“Our pre­ci­sion plot seeder al­lows us to plant dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties in each row within a plot, com­pared with tra­di­tional field trial method­ol­ogy which in­volves larger plots be­ing sown to a sin­gle va­ri­ety,” he said.

“This not only al­lows us to sow more lines over fewer hectares, but we can in­clude ex­per­i­men­tal lines in our screen­ing nurs­ery when only a small amount of seed is avail­able.”

Dis­ease nurs­ery

Sci­en­tists screen wheat plants at the Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria Plant Breed­ing Cen­tre dis­ease nurs­ery for their abil­ity to with­stand leaf rust, stripe rust, stem rust and yel­low leaf spot, and screen bar­ley for spot form of net blotch, net form of net blotch, leaf rust and scald. A dis­ease nurs­ery at Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria’s higher-rain Hamil­ton site screens against sep­to­ria in wheat.

Re­search in­volves in­tro­duc­ing dis­ease to the plants through a range of means in­clud­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­oc­u­la­tion, spread­ing of in­fected stub­ble across the plots or nat­u­ral in­fec­tion.

In its en­tirety, the dis­ease nurs­ery cov­ers six hectares, which are flood ir­ri­gated to max­imise op­ti­mum con­di­tions for dis­ease to flour­ish.

The de­vel­op­ment of the dis­ease nurs­ery in Hor­sham has been a suc­cess­ful Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria project with pri­vate breed­ing com­pa­nies us­ing the fa­cil­ity.

Dr Holl­away said so far, this year’s sow­ing pro­gram had pro­gressed smoothly.

“We won’t fin­ish un­til around the first week of Au­gust be­cause we de­lib­er­ately spread our sow­ing time to favour the dif­fer­ent dis­eases we work with,” he said.

Dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son, re­searchers will ex­am­ine and score each va­ri­ety at least once for signs of dis­ease.

“The aim is to en­sure we can pro­vide grow­ers with the most up-to-date dis­ease rat­ings that will as­sist them when mak­ing de­ci­sions about which va­ri­eties to grow,” Dr Holl­away said.

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