Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station

Condolin research centre

The Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, located in the centre of the NSW cereal belt, continues to make an important contribution to farming systems practice in the Central West.

It is renowned for its studies on wheat production, best management practices for canola and mustard production in low rainfall areas, as well as barley management and variety testing.

Some of the red brown earths used for agronomic research at Condobolin ARAS

The Station covers 1722ha, predominantly of red and red-brown earths typical of the wheat-sheep zone of NSW. It has an average rainfall of 427mm, which is non-seasonal and highly variable. The topography is predominantly level with a small area of slightly undulating land in the north western corner.

The soils are predominantly red gradational and red-brown earths with near neutral pH and low inherent fertility and organic matter. They become shallow and stony on the undulating land. The natural vegetation was open savannah dominated by white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and bimble box (Eucalyptus populnea) with scattered shrubs and a short grassy understorey. Much of the station is now cleared on natural vegetation and used for farming and grazing of introduced pasture species.

The Station is well equipped with office and seminar facilities, hosting groups of up to 200 people.

Farm operations use modern machinery, including GPS technologies, to implement best practice farming techniques minimising the impact of agricultural activities on the environment. Modern facilities and infrastructure such as grain processing sheds, livestock handling facilities and more than 100 well fenced and watered paddocks ensure the station can reliably and efficiently conduct research activities to a high standard.

NSW DPI's goal of profitable agriculture for a better environment is supported by research projects conducted at the station. Staff  conduct research into cereals, canola, pulses, cropping systems and crop rotations, pastures and new industrial crops.

Local farming community cooperation is common in many projects.

The Central West Farming Systems organisation (CWFS), which is based at the station, undertakes farmer driven research projects. The organisation receives funding from the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) plus other sources.. This, in conjunction with sponsorship from agribusiness and input from local farmers, enables them to undertake local and regional research.

Current research focusses on:

  • Wheat and barley varietal testing and management
  • Pulse crop evaluation
  • Management of frost risk in cereal crops
  • Canola management
  • Farming systems management

The station also has a long history in the evaluation of new industrial crops for the semi-arid zone, including jojoba, mallee, guayule and broombush. Lines of both jojoba and mallee, selected at Condobolin, have contributed to the development of new industries both in NSW and interstate. In collaboration with Western Australian researchers, there is ongoing work evaluating many mallee genotypes for production and quality traits.

Crop, pasture and soil trials are conducted at Condobolin ARAS and within the district, facilitating interaction with research staff, the farming community, local businesses and educational institutions.

The research station was established in 1910 on an original area of 545ha as a demonstration farm and to assess the cropping potential of the region. This initial work gave such encouraging results that it became an experiment farm after World War I and wheat breeding was pursued. Additional farms belonging to the Duffy and Bourke families were bought in the 1940’s so that, by 1949, the Research Station tripled in size to 1742ha. This enabled the activities of the Department to broaden to include sheep and pasture research as well as cereal growing.

The facilities on the station were significantly upgraded in 1971 with the opening of the present office, laboratory and conference complex, designed to accommodate 27 professional and support staff.

Important early findings

Some of the more important findings from early research conducted at Condobolin include:

  • Farming systems – a major series of fertiliser experiments defined the importance of phosphorus and nitrogen for cereal and pasture production in the central west, resulting in current recommendations.
  • Fertiliser placement – it was clearly shown that in low rainfall areas the response to superphosphate could be substantially increased by incorporating the fertiliser into the topsoil compared with surface application.
  • Pasture improvement – suitable pasture varieties were selected and establishment techniques developed for the productive use of annual medics and lucerne in western wheatbelt areas.
  • Goats – major contributions were made to both the milking and non-milch goat industries during two periods of work. Recent genetic improvement has resulted in large gains in meat and fibre production and in higher skin quality.
  • Sheep nutrition – the increased reproductive performance and wool production from grazing lucerne and medic pastures compared to native species has been quantified.

The Condobolin ARAS hosts the Bureau of Meteorology weather station with records starting from 1954. Earlier records from the Post Office date back to 1914. The station is in the Central West of NSW at an elevation of 195m. Annual average rainfall is 424mm (1914-2006). The Station is situated adjacent to the Lachlan river, just above its floodplain.

Rainfall is non-seasonally distributed. However, high summer evaporation rates which average between 8-10mm per day from the start of November to the end of February mean much of the rain during the summer months is ineffective. Cool season rainfall (April-October) is most effective and is utilised for winter cereal growing as the main cropping period. The pastoral enterprises rely on naturalised medics (Medicago spp) and some native grasses which also grow in autumn and spring.

Temperatures range from 33.5oC (average January maximum) with an average of more than 5 days annually above 40oC, through to 2.7oC (average July minimum) with an average 23 days below 0oC.

There is a frost period extending from mid-May to mid-September when minimum temperatures can fall to -3°C and occasionally lower.

LocationContact

Fifield Road
Condobolin NSW 2877

Postal address:

Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station
PO Box 300
Condobolin NSW 2877

Phone: 02 6895 1025

International: +61 2 6895 1025

Fax: 02 6895 2688 (optional to include)

Email: condobolin.office@dpi.nsw.gov.au

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