Queensland-based economic research agency Agtrans Research reviewed the GRDC investment in eight WA No-Till Farmers association’s research and extension programs over the nine years to 2008.
According to Agtrans research managing director Dr Peter Chudleigh, the GRDC investment had helped grain growers achieve higher average grain yields, leading to higher average profitability, particularly in low rainfall years.
“The GRDC/WANTFA investment encouraged no-till practices in Western Australia to continuously evolve, resulting in improved outcomes of efficiency gains for those already using no-till and encouraging more cropping farmers to adopt no-till over time,” Dr Chudleigh said.
“The no-till projects in Western Australia raised awareness of no-till opportunities and benefits and provided greater confidence to those willing to undertake change.”
Quantified benefits of the GRDC’s investment included short term gains from improved soil moisture retention and longer term benefits such as improved weed and pest control and reduced soil erosion.
The analysis took into account that no-till farming practices were already being adopted by WA farmers when GRDC investment began in the mid 1990s, as well as the efforts of other organisations’ contributions to no-till adoption and extension.
Dr Chudleigh said that the additional research supported by GRDC accelerated the uptake and improved the effectiveness of no-till farming methods.
“The most important characteristic of the investment has been its integrated R&D and extension nature. This has undoubtedly led to quicker and more effective application of no-till technologies. The investment has raised awareness of no-till opportunities and benefits and provided greater confidence to those willing to undertake change.”
GRDC managing director Peter Reading welcomed the research findings.
“At GRDC we are continually striving to support research which can be effectively applied on the ground by growers,” Mr Reading said.
“The outcomes in this case are also a credit to the highly professional approach taken by the members and researchers involved at WANTFA.”