2021 Spring Research Update

2021 Kerang Research Update
Given our our spring field day couldn't go ahead, we wanted to showcase our irrigated research in short video clips, online information and a special edition Trial Site Magazine.

Yet again in 2021 we re-imagined our field day to enable us to showcase our research site and provide information about the local trials taking place in 2021 in a virtual interactive format.  This page has short videos and and details trials to give growers and industry key information about the research. 

Members received our special edition trial magazine arriving in their mailbox.

Seasonal Summary

Kerang Trial Site

2021 started with a water market that made pre-irrigation economically justifiable. Climate models (although autumn is probably when they have the poorest reliability) were indicating an average to slightly wetter season. 

Most trials were to be sown onto wheaten hay stubbles. Soil N at sowing was far less than 2020 (which followed brown manured vetch) and ranged between 70 and 90 kg N/ha. The first trials to be sown for the winter season were the Murray Dairy Fodder for the Future, planned for sowing in early April. Thanks to 42mm in late March, the first sowing occurred on March 31st into receding moisture, but with rain forecast. Pre-irrigation then happened for the rest of the trial area, starting on April 8th. As the forecast rain failed to materialize, the fodder trial was watered up/pre-irrigated as well. Sowing resumed on April 21st with the long season wheat trial, followed by the canola and cereal fodder trials.

April rainfall was very much below average with a decile 1, or 0.8mm for the month. May rainfall was below average (11mm), but this was just enough to keep moisture in the soil surface and allow sowing to go close to planned as possible – the main season wheat trial was sown on May 6th, barley and faba’s on May 7th, chickpeas on May 18th and the durum wheat trials on May 21st .

Another new project for the ICC is the national GRDC Canola Heat project. The aim of the project is to identify ecotypes and/or genes that will improve the heat tolerance of canola. This trial is made up of 24 selections of Brassica napus (the species name of canola) and these have been sown at 5 time of sowings (29/4, 25/5, 22/6, 13/7 and 9/8).

June and July saw average rainfall, with 38mm and 34mm respectively. However the rainfall occurred as many small events. June rainfall enabled us to sow the ‘non-trial’ areas to a mix of wheat and vetch as a brown manure, aiming to keep our ryegrass under control in anticipation for sowing to trials in 2022 and improve, or at the very least halt the decline of, our soil organic matter.

August was again drier than average, which resulted in the first irrigation in the Smarter Irrigation for Profit 2 (SIP2) trial on August 26th. This demonstration is on the ‘red dirt’ and had been pre- irrigated. The ‘grey dirt’ (the majority of the Trial Block) was irrigated on August 30th.

Stripe rust was observed in Trojan on September 3rd, with small ‘hot spots’ of septoria on Scout in our SIP2 demonstration prior to being sprayed with a fungicide at GS39 (full flag emergence). Other disease noted this season has been ascochyta in the chickpeas and very low levels of cercospera in the faba beans.


The start of September saw 16mm of rain shortly after irrigation, but no waterlogging occurred. The weather seemed to get stuck in a pattern of warming up with increasing wind during the week followed by a change over the weekend, sometimes bringing rain but generally resulting in poor totals. The second spring for the SIP2 demonstration was September 17th, and the second irrigation for the majority of the trials will be in late September.


2021 Rainfall, Irrigation and Accumulated Rainfall

Icc Rainfall 2021

Our Trials

To gain an insight into what’s going on at our Kerang trial site, click on the links below. 

Variety Oct

Irrigated Variety Trials

variety trials are comparative crop variety testing with standardised trial management, data generation and collection to provide meaningful results for growers. Irrigation provides a unique environment that allows high yields to be targeted. However most varieties are developed and tested under dryland conditions. In order to perform under irrigated conditions, a variety should have the following characteristics: High yield potential Maturity that matches sowing date and the optimal grain filling period (avoiding frost at flowering but also avoiding high temperatures during grain filling) High tolerance to crop lodging Waterlogging tolerance Good disease tolerance/rating, although a disease management plan can address some shortfalls The decision was made to separate the early maturing (or early season) varieties from the main trial, and to sow them at a more appropriate time that suited their maturity. Variety trials in 2021 include: Canola – 23 varieties and lines Barley – 15 varieties and lines Wheat – 19 varieties and lines Faba beans – 7 varieties and lines Durums - 9 varieties and lines

Shane Byrne

Fodder for the Future

Murray Dairy has partnered with the Irrigated Cropping Council through the Fodder for the Future project to conduct demonstration trials investigating management strategies for cereals and faba-beans as fodder for dairy cows. The first trial looks at the impact of sowing dates and seeding rates for wheat (Cesario) and oats (Forrester). Sowing dates were early and late April. Sowing rates were 80, 120, 180 and 270 plants per m . Two different cutting times will also be measured to understand the impact of harvest time on quality and yield for each cut. All plots have been sown with successful weed and pest free establishment. The crops are all growing well, with some plots quite advanced in their growth stage. This may create a management challenge if harvest time is very early.

in collaboration with FAR Australia

Optimising Irrigated Grains

The Optimising Irrigated Grains project aims to lift the productivity and profitability of irrigated farming systems in Southeast Australia. The research component of the project is led by Field Applied Research (FAR) Australia in collaboration with Irrigated Cropping Council (ICC) and NSW DPI and is underpinned by 65-70 field trials conducted annually on six crops (grain maize, canola, durum wheat, barley, chickpeas and faba beans).

The project which has now completed its first year of results with winter crops and second year with summer crops has a major focus on examining the major agronomic levers that influence irrigated crop profitability. Of the agronomic practices being evaluated there is a major emphasis on nutrition asking the questions around how hard we need to push nitrogen (N) fertiliser inputs to achieve high yields under surface and overhead irrigation.

Optimising the return on nitrogen through improved nitrogen use efficiency has been a major focus of the initial trials in crops such as grain maize, canola, and durum wheat. In addition, the research is looking at the other major agronomic levers that can be manipulated to maximise productivity in irrigated crops, these include irrigation system (surface v overhead), sowing date, disease management, plant growth regulation and its effects on plant architecture and standing power. Below we have presented examples of trials underpinning these key findings.
Early indications suggest the economic optima for nitrogen (N) applications in irrigated winter and summer crops is less than the crop takes up during the growing season. Maximising productivity and margins with high rates of applied N have on the whole been unsuccessful. Irrigated crops have seemingly not been able to respond in a growing season to the extra applied N. Particularly in grain maize, canola and durum wheat.
July Research Walk Kerang
Focus paddocks are implemented to trial topics of interest to the group at a paddock scale. Focus paddocks have ranged from high input durum wheat, growing maize to heat stress in canola and soil amelioration. Case studies have also been developed as part of the discussion groups to share some on farm strategies to help farmers learn from each other and be more adaptive to changing climates and water environments.

Optimising Nitrogen Inputs

Nitrogen rates for irrigated canola – how much N do we need for 5t/ha?”
Virtual Trade Site

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