Key research for Condobolin Agricultural Research and Advisory Station
Research into wheat physiology is a focus at Condobolin
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, soils, new industrial crops and sheep production.
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), NSW DPI and the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (LCMA). This, in conjunction with sponsorship from agribusiness and input from local farmers, enables them to undertake local and regional research.
Large scale farming systems research
Condobolin ARAS hosts a large scale fully replicated core site covering 260ha conducted by CWFS and NSW DPI. This long term trial, established in 1997, is evaluating the sustainability and profitability of four farming systems (continuous cropping, reduced till, perennial pasture and traditional mixed farming) typical to the Central West of NSW.
In addition, an area of 320ha has been developed for a major long term trial funded by the Grain & Graze program. This trial will evaluate the financial and environmental aspects of a new farming system incorporating alleys of deep-rooted, perennial forage shrubs into traditional mixed livestock/cropping systems.
Agronomic research at Condobolin has made an important contribution to farming practice in the Central West. Studies on wheat production have addressed issues such as the impact of rotations and fertiliser on yield, quality and grain size, and the benefits of increased soil nitrogen from legume pastures to succeeding cereal crops. Agronomic research has also focussed on the development of best management practices for canola and mustard production in low rainfall areas, as well as barley management and variety testing. The station is a major test site for advanced barley breeding lines. More recently, crop models have been used to assist farmers evaluate management options, particularly in relation to water and nitrogen requirements.
In addition to agronomic studies, extensive basic research in wheat physiology has been undertaken in conjunction with CSIRO. Many of these studies consider the issue of “Terminal Drought” as it is a common occurrence in the Condobolin District. Winter cereals are capable of storing pre-anthesis carbohydrates that can be used to buffer grain filling against later drought or leaf disease. Varietal differences in this capacity have been identified and current research is studying the importance and genetic control of this character. Other work is quantifying the efficiency of reserve utilisation and developing screening methods for varietal selection. Reduced tillering is being investigated as a means of increasing the harvest index of early sown crops.
Soils research conducted on the station and on local farms has addressed soil management issues in the low rainfall farming areas. Many soils have been found to have low phosphorus and sulphur status, and surface soil acidity is a common problem. The results of this research have been published as Soil Management Guidelines for Farmers.
New industrial crops
The station 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.
Livestock and pasture management
Sheep grazing alley farming site - Grain and Graze funded research
Livestock and pasture management research has included grazing studies on various pastures and perennial species to assess animal health implications, and studies on fine wool production in this non-traditional environment. The latter have shown that finer wooled animals can be successfully run. Studies on goat management undertaken at the station are now being developed commercially at other locations.