Canadian pulse probe
two-week study tour in Canaada
by Agriculture Victoria scientists has identified a range of new research opportunities that could benefit growers and contribute towards an increasingly robust Australian pulse industry.
Agriculture Victoria pulse agronomy research scientists Dr Jason Brand and Tim Nigussie visited Saskatchewan and Alberta as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Southern Pulse Agronomy program.
They were part of a delegation that included South Australian Research Development Institute researchers Drs Christine Walela and Penny Roberts.
The group spent two weeks travelling through Canadian pulse-growing regions to meet a range of researchers, growers, agronomists and other industry specialists.
Dr Brand said the trip provided his team with access and insight into pulse-management options being researched and adopted by Canadian growers.
“We looked at research targeting weed and disease management in pulses and saw how growers were using alternative practices such as inter-cropping or companion cropping,” he said.
Among tour highlights was visiting Eric Johnson, a weeds researcher from the University of Saskatchewan, and Jessica Weber from the Western Agricultural Research Corporation, who showed the Southern Pulse Agronomy team through several weed-management and herbicide-tolerance trials and introduced them to growers in the Scott region to discuss how their research was being applied on-farm.
“As an alternative to, or to complement chemical weed control, a number of new options were being investigated,” Dr Brand said.
“We observed several novel weed-control options such as weed clipping and inter-row cultivation that could be combined with laser and microwave technologies and visual sensing to create nonchemical options in the future.
“The discussions with Mr Johnson and Ms Weber will also guide some of the future directions of our herbicide-tolerance and weedmanagement research.”
Discussions about research into, and the adoption of, intercropping in Canada were of particular interest to the visiting Australians. At a South East Research Farm near Redvers, Saskatchewan, manager Lana Shaw discussed her group’s focus on intercropping, which was being driven by a desire for higher productivity cropping systems that were less reliant on synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and fungicides.
The grower-led research site featured field trials comparing a range of crop species mixes, while other trials were comparing mixed and skip row systems.
“Particularly interesting were the chickpea-flax and lentil-flax mixes, which might provide opportunities to minimise fungicide use with lower disease pressure,” Dr Brand said.
“There were lots of interesting observations, but plenty of work is needed to understand the science behind the observations. The intercropping discussions we had with growers, researchers and agronomists in Canada will help us refine where we should be directing our attention in future agronomic research.”
RESEARCH: From left, Penny Roberts, Jason Brand, Christine Walela and Tim Nigussie during a two-week study tour in Canberra.