Confirmed Concurrent Session Speakers



Tactical agronomy for sorghum in the northern region

Daniel Rodriguez1, Loretta Serafin2, Barbara George-Jaeggli3, Ariel Ferrante1, James McLean1, Martin Bielich1, Andrew
Skerman3, Joseph Eyre1, Greg Mclean3

1. QAAFI, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
2. NSW DPI, Tamworth, NSW, Australia
3. DAF, Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Warwick, Qld, Australia

Climate and soil variability in Australia’s sorghum belt interact to create highly contrasting growth and stress environments (E).
Such variability provides challenges and opportunities for agronomists and farmers to match hybrid types (G) and agronomic
management (M) to environments and seasonal conditions. Crop modelling has proven useful at quantifying the potential
opportunities from fine tuning agronomic management for the specific characteristics of available hybrids. Though our limited
capacity to predict the likely crop stress patterns in this highly variable climate remains the main challenge.
In this study we (i) present results from a comprehensive data set of agronomic trials (i.e. more than 1000 plots) run during the
2015 and 2016 seasons across Australia’s northern grains region; and (ii) tested the value of matching hybrid and crop
management to specific site and season stress type combinations by using the APSIM model in combination with a new
seasonal climate forecasting tool (i.e. BoM-POAMA2).
Results show that commercial sorghum hybrids in Australia are more similar in maturity and tillering types than expected
thereby limiting the benefits of specific crop adaptations; that simple rules derived from agronomic trials can help match crop
design (GxM) to environment types, and discuss the value of simple deterministic information such as initial conditions at
planting, and probabilistic information i.e. POAMA2, to inform profitable and low risk cropping in the northern grains region
using the GxExM appraoch.

Updating the crop simulation model APSIM to predict yields of more specifically-adapted
sorghum hybrids

Jason Brider1, Barbara George-Jaeggli2, Ian Broad1, Joseph Eyre3, Ariel Ferrante3, Greg McLean1, James McLean3,
Andrew Skerman2, Daniel Rodriguez3

1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Warwick, Queensland, Australia
3. The University of Queensland, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovations, Toowoomba, Queensland,
Crop simulation models (CSM) are fundamental research and agronomic decision-making tools, especially in dry-land crop
production areas with high seasonal rainfall variability, such as the sorghum growing area in Australia.
CSM allow benchmarking of achievable yields for different geographical locations and seasonal conditions, as well as
calculating probabilities of achieving a positive return on investment for different hybrid by agronomic management and
seasonal forecast scenarios.
In the last thirty years, the sorghum industry has gone from using a handful of broadly-adapted hybrids across the entire
growing area to the availability of more specifically adapted hybrids. This opens up the opportunity to lift yields by matching
specific hybrids and optimal agronomic management with likely environmental conditions. CSM are expected to play an even
more important role in identifying best genotype-by-management-by-environment (GxMxE) combinations.
We have parameterised 12 sorghum hybrids to update the plant module within the CSM APSIM ( Here we
present results from simulations across a range of hybrid by crop management scenarios in a variety of environments (GxMxE)
and their associated yield and risk probabilities.


Tactical agronomy for dryland maize in the northern grains region

Loretta Serafin1, Daniel Rodriguez2, Mark Hellyer 1, Peter Perfrement 1, Barbara George-Jaeggli3, Ariel Ferrante 2, J Mclean 3, M Bielich 2, A Skerman 3, J Eyre 2, G McLean 3

1. NSW DPI, CALALA, NSW, Australia
2. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI),, The University of Queensland, , Queensland, QLD, Australia
3. Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAF), , DAF, Warwick, QLD, Australia
Australian maize production area has been steadily declining since 1924 (ABS 2009-10) when 172,000 ha were grown. In contrast, by 2009 only 49,000 ha were committed to maize production. The northern grains region can be characterised as sorghum and wheat dominant. The inclusion of maize should be considered a priority given; its high input of biomass, role as a break crop and in the control of difficult grass weeds, and as a profitable option when the right hybrid, is grown under the right management, in the right environment and season.
Here we propose that the future production of dryland maize in the northern grains region is dependent on the successful integration of suitable adapted hybrid types, agronomic management and environmental conditions. A series of experiments conducted across northern NSW and southern Qld during the 2015 and 2016 seasons is providing a base data set to support renewed grower and advisor confidence in reliably producing maize in this region. Three main aspects have been trialled; hybrid, plant population and row configuration. Hybrid type; including maturity and degree of prolificacy i.e that is the ability of a hybrid to produce multiple cobs per plant, is an important decision which drives the upper level of production potential.
Alternative row configurations to solid plant, such as single skip or super-wide, offer opportunities to conserve moisture in between wider rows to reduce the risk of total crop failure and stabilise crop yields. Plant populations of between 15 – 80,000 plants per ha have been trialled to investigate the interactions between hybrid, row configuration and plant density.
The data produced from these field experiments was also used to parameterise recently released hybrids in APSIM to more widely explore genotype by management interactions across the diverse environments and seasons observed in the northern grains region.

Sub Surface Drip Irrigation of Maize

Sam Birrell1, Liz Mann2

1. Netafim, Laverton, VICTORIA, Australia
2. Maize Association of Australia, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Subsurface Drip Irrigation of Maize
A major challenge facing maize growers in irrigation regions is the cost and availability of water. As of the beginning of the 2015-1016 season temporary water on the Goulburn irrigation system in Northern Victoria was trading for more than $250 per megalitre. Similar increasing water costs are trending in other irrigation regions.
Achieving the highest water use efficiency is therefore a key to growers maximising profit.
The use of sub surface drip irrigation (SDI) for the production of maize crops has increased significantly in recent times. In northern Victoria alone over 3500 Ha has been installed in the past five years. Reduced water use and increased yields have been reported by growers using SDI. In some cases yields in excess of 18 tonnes per hectare have been achieved.
This presentation will investigate the ongoing viability of SDI for maize production. Efficient SDI system design will be discussed, also the factors contributing to higher yields, such as fertiliser injection and maintaining optimum soil moisture. The presentation will look at return on investment of the capital cost of SDI and address the challenges faced by growers implementing new technology such as SDI.




The inner workings of the Sorghum Midge Tested Scheme – How are MR ratings assigned and what do they really mean?

Tracey L Shatte1

1. DAF, Warwick, QLD, Australia
Sorghum midge is described as the most damaging insect pest of grain sorghum worldwide. The most effective method of combating this pest in Australia has been the incorporation of sorghum midge resistance into commercial grain sorghum hybrids. This has not only reduced the yield impact of this pest, but has also significantly decreased the use of insecticides in sorghum, potentially saving the industry $20-$30 million per annum.
To provide sorghum growers with accurate information about midge resistance (MR) levels in commercial hybrids the Midge Tested Scheme was developed. The Scheme incorporates an annual test in which standard lines (of known resistance rating) are grown alongside test hybrids and high midge pressures are applied during the flowering period. Each test hybrid is then rated according to the relative level of resistance compared to the standards and assigned an official MR rating, ranging from 1 (susceptible) to 8+ (current maximum level).
These industry ratings in turn provide growers with important decision making tools. Higher MR ratings afford growers more flexibility in planting times as emphasis can be placed on better agronomic outcomes rather than on minimizing midge levels. The ratings can also be used along with other growing parameters in the DAF online Economic Threshold Calculator to assess whether insecticide control is warranted, leading to more targeted insecticide applications.

PEST MANAGEMENT IN AUSTRALIAN SUMMER PULSES IN 2016– Wither to from here – Current state of play and future challenges

Hugh B Brier1, Elizabeth Williams1

1. Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Kingaroy, QUEENSLAND, Australia
Pest management in summer pulses is an ever moving scene, and now is an opportune time to reflect on the current state of play and to flag future challenges. For caterpillars, recent GRDC/DAF grains IPM projects have helped secure registration of a new group 28 insecticide for helicoverpa, bean podborer and looper control. The group 28 insecticides tick many boxes: good efficacy - even for larvae inside flowers, long residual activity (up to 3 weeks), but low impact on beneficials. If overused however, the threat of pesticide resistance in helicoverpa is very real. Consequently, there is a need to consider other soft helicoverpa pesticides (in particular biopesticides), particularly during the crops vegetative stages. Also required are multi-pest IPM strategies that conserve key beneficials in the farming system, and only spray above-threshold pest populations. Allowing beneficials to build up reduces the frequency of above-threshold pest populations, thus in the case of helicoverpa in particular, reducing the frequency of spraying, and hence resistance selection pressure on the pest. For aphids and mirids, there are a number of potential new dimethoate-replacement options. While more expensive than dimethoate, they have less impact on beneficials and their use will be an important component of any multi-pest IPM strategy in pulses and other grain crops. Key problematic pest problems that have flared in recent years include widespread etiella outbreaks in mungbeans and soybeans, severe lucerne crown borer damage in soybeans in some districts, including the Liverpool Plains, and significant soybean stem fly outbreaks in subtropical soybeans, particularly in Northern NSW. In all three cases, control with pesticides is not possible once damage is observed, as larvae are unreachable inside stems and/or in the case of etiella, inside pods. This paper discusses potential control options and presents supporting data from research trials and commercial crops.




Soil mineral nitrogen recovery and estimation of in-crop mineralisation

Mike J Bell1, David W Lester2, Douglas J Sands3, Rick Graham4

1. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation/ School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld, Australia
2. Sustainable Farming Systems, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
3. Sustainable Farming Systems, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Emerald, Qld, Australia
4. Tamworth Agricultural Institute, NSW Department of Primary Industries , Tamworth, NSW, Australia

A new series of 34 nitrogen response trials were conducted for grain sorghum in the northern grain region from 2012-13 until 2014-15. Sites extended from Central Queensland down to the Liverpool Plains. Starting soil nitrogen was quantified to depths of 0.6 and 1.2 m. Above ground dry matter measured at maturity within the nil nitrogen treatments suggests most crops are recovering mineral nitrogen down to the 1.2 m layer. Utilising the crop N recovery of the nil plots also allows an inference on the amount of in-crop mineralisation. Data suggests that between 10 and 20 kg N/ha is gained by the crop from in-crop mineralisation.

Nutrient Implications for Central Queensland Sorghum

Douglas Sands1, Mike Bell2, David Lester3

1. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Emerald, QLD, Australia
2. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland - Gatton Campus, Gatton, QLD, 4343
3. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, QLD

Grain sorghum yield increases of between 10 and 20% (up to 500 kg/ha) are being achieved with deep placement of phosphorus (P) in Central Queensland. Additionally, smaller increases (7-10%) are recorded with potassium (K) application and, in some years additive effects of P and K together are measured. Sulfur does not currently appear limiting sorghum grain yields. Sites responsive to deep placement are characterised by soil tests identifying low availability of P and K in the 10-30 cm layer compared to the surface 0-10 cm layer.
These results show that there are productivity improvements to be gained in being able to balance all the macro nutrients in the top 30cm of the profile. If P or K are limiting then additional N may not be being fully utilised and crop water-use efficiency is being compromised.

Deep phosphorus for sorghum in the northern grains region

David W Lester1, Mike J Bell2, Douglas J Sands3, Rick Graham4

1. Sustainable Farming Systems, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
2. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation/ School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld, Australia
3. Sustainable Farming Systems, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Emerald, Qld, Australia
4. Tamworth Agricultural Institute, NSW Department of Primary Industries , Tamworth, NSW, Australia

Initially through southern Queensland, deep placement of phosphorus has demonstrated the capacity to increase grain sorghum yields by up to 20% (500 kg/ha). The research has recently expanded to include Central Queensland and Northern New South Wales on both the north west slopes and plains, and the Liverpool Plains regions. Where seasonal growing conditions allow, grain yields are being increased at sites through this expanded research area. However examples of yield reduction due to emergence of another constraint are also reported. This paper reports on the rate response effects in growth, phosphorus recovery and grain yield, and highlights additional constraints to be aware of.


Sunflower nutrition and irrigation – bringing growers and white peg trials closer together

Loretta Serafin1, Roland Hornick

1. NSW DPI, CALALA, NSW, Australia

Sunflower nutrition and irrigation are two of the key corner stones to successful sunflower production. While nitrogen remains the primary nutrient of focus due to its impact on sunflower yield, oil content and vegetative structures, several other nutrients; such as sulphur and potassium also have important roles to play. Sulphur forms important partnerships with nitrogen to determine oil content and seed parameters. Potassium is also removed in large quantities by sunflower and is important for stalk strength.
Preliminary research trials over the last ten years have been building a database for growers and advisors to utilise when making their commercial crop decisions. This database has led to significant changes in nitrogen fertilisation practices commercially. While the research focus is always on optimising crop yields and oil components; commercially the focus is always on ensuring there is a return on the significant investment which fertiliser application requires.
Irrigation of sunflowers occurs under various types of technology, ranging from overhead systems to flood irrigation. The accurate timing and amount of water supplied to a sunflower crop can vary plant vegetative structures as well impact on final yield and oil contents. The number and timing of in crop irrigations has been the subject of initial research trials however commercially growers and advisors have been trialling their own “best bet” methods.
The combination of water and nutritional management to optimise crop production has significant potential advantages for crop production. The challenge moving forward is how to integrate the results from the ‘white peg’ research trials with growers broad acre requirements.


The sorghum stalk rot diseases: our No. 1 priority

Jo White1, Sara Blake1, Anthony Young1

1. University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

Charcoal rot (Macrophomina phaseolina) and Fusarium stalk rot (Fusarium spp.) are the most prevalent and aggressive of the sorghum stalk rot diseases, causing major yield losses through lodging and to a lesser extent seed weight reductions. Fusarium stalk rot is reported to be predominantly caused by the pathogens Fusarium thapsinum and F. andiyazi, however, molecular characterisation of sorghum stalk rot strains has revealed inconsistencies with the present taxonomic arrangement, and the likelihood that there may be as yet undescribed species associated with stalk rot in sorghum. F. thapsinum is thought to be the most dominant of the Fusarium species infecting sorghum stalks and while its host range is somewhat limited (compared with M. phaseolina), the saprophytic nature of the pathogen may ensure their survival in stubble from season to season. Preliminary studies investigating alternative crop and weed hosts (both live and dead) of F. thapsinum have shown that possible infection of other crops such as mungbean, maize, chickpea and wheat may occur through artificially inoculated conditions. M. phaseolina, arguably the most destructive of the stalk rotting pathogens, has such an extensive host range that while rotations may play a role in managing inoculum loads, greater advantage may be obtained from research into host resistance. Preliminary field studies of 15 sorghum lines artificially inoculated with M. phaseolina have demonstrated that significant differences in infection levels exist. Future research aims to contribute to the gaps in our knowledge of the biology of these pathogens, host and pathogen genetics and their complex interactions, which is critical for any management strategy.


Sorghum pre-breeding: traits development, deployment and impact

David Jordan1, Alan Cruickshank2

1. The University of Queensland, Warwick, QLD, Australia
2. DAFF QLD, Warwick, QLD, Australia
The sorghum pre-breeding program is a partnership between GRDC, DAF and UQ QAAFI which contributes to improving sorghum varieties grown in Australia by identifying new traits, developing new screening methods and producing improved breeding lines and transferring these lines to industry. The program has been active for more than 60 years and has an impressive record for delivering benefit to the industry, with all of the commercial hybrids currently being grown in Australia containing genetics and traits from the program. In recent years this effort has been accelerated by the availability of new technologies and specialized equipment such as genome sequencing and drone based evaluation of trials. The work of the program has attracted interest from other funders including a large investment in drought research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is supporting research which will contribute to productivity of sorghum in Australia and in Africa. In this presentation we describe the priority traits currently being targeted by the program and their potential impacts on crop performance. These traits include modified root architecture, changes in tillering and increased grain size. We also describe the mechanism by which genetics from the program gets to growers and the impact of previous breeding effort.

Genetic control of nodal root angle in sorghum and its association with drought adaptation

Vijaya Singh1, Erik J Van Oosterom1, Dinesh C Joshi1, David R Jordan1, Emma S Mace1, 2, Graeme L Hammer1

1. University of Queensland, St Luica, QLD, Australia
2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hermitage Research Facility, 604 Yangan Road, Warwick, QLD, Australia, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Genetic improvement of sorghum for drought adaptation is necessary for yield gain in the water limited environments that are commonly experienced in production regions. Root architecture plays an important role in capacity to capture soil water and is therefore critical for drought adaptation. Here we summarise studies on the genetic control of nodal root angle in sorghum seedlings and its effect on water extraction of mature plants and drought adaptation. Phenotyping of seedlings for genetic variation in nodal root angle was conducted in small (40cm x 60cm x3mm) soil filled chambers. Extensive genetic variation (15-50°) for nodal root angle was identified. Selected contrasting lines were grown in large (240 x 120 x 10cm) soil filled chambers to assess differences in root distribution patterns and implications on water extraction. Lines with narrow root angle had a more vertical root distribution and extracted more water from depth. Further phenotyping and genotyping of a mapping population identified four QTL for nodal root angle, which explained 58.2% of phenotypic variance. The QTL co-located with QTL for stay green and were correlated with grain yield in breeding trials. Preliminary modelling of the effect on water extraction indicated significant yield advantage in many Australian sorghum production environments. This research suggests that nodal root angle can be used as a selection criterion in sorghum breeding program to improve drought adaptation. A high-throughput phenotyping platform has been developed to phenotype large sorghum NAM populations for nodal root angle and thus more precisely identify genomic regions controlling nodal root angle. It is anticipated that results will support molecular breeding for drought adaptation by manipulation of root traits.

The biology, genetics, and modelling of heat stress effects on grain sorghum productivity

Graeme Hammer1, Vijaya Singh1, Chuc Nguyen1, Greg McLean2, Erik van Oosterom1, David Jordan1, Bangyou Zheng3, Scott Chapman3

1. University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
2. Dept Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld
3. CSIRO Agriculture, Brisbane, Qld

Heat stress shock has been known to cause sterility in sorghum. The anticipated increasing frequency of heat shock events with maximum temperature trends implies increasing production risk. Here we summarise our research on specific varietal attributes associated with heat stress tolerance in sorghum and evaluate how they might affect yield outcomes in production environments by a crop simulation analysis. We have recently conducted a range of controlled environment and field experiments to study the physiology and genetics of high temperature effects on growth and development of sorghum. Sorghum seed set was reduced by high temperature effects (>36-38oC) on pollen germination around flowering. Sorghum genotypes differed in their tolerance to high temperature stress, either in the threshold temperature for the effect and/or the severity of effect beyond that threshold. Effects were quantified in a manner that enabled their incorporation into the APSIM sorghum crop model. Simulation analysis indicated that risk of high temperature damage and yield loss depended on location, sowing date and variety. While climate trends will exacerbate high temperature effects, avoidance in the near term by genetic tolerance, and to a lesser extent by crop management, seems possible, but will require targeted research to take advantage of these discoveries.

Stay-green enhances lodging resistance under terminal water deficit in sorghum

Andrew Borrell1, Barbara George-Jaeggli1, Alan Cruickshank2, David Jordan1

1. University of Queensland, Warwick, QLD, Australia
2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government, Warwick, Queensland, Australia

Lodging associated with terminal drought has been one of the major constraints facing sorghum growers and breeders since the advent of hybrids in the US and Australia more than 50 years ago. Water stress during grain filling causes the plant to use resources from leaves and stems to fill grain. If the stress is severe enough, this process causes stem death and lodging. In addition, if circumstances are favourable, the tissue death enables stalk rotting pathogens to colonise and degrade stem tissue, further increasing the severity of lodging. In this paper we report on a large number of experiments undertaken in Australia and India to determine the impact of the stay-green trait on lodging resistance and grain yield under varying levels of water supply. Stay-green, as measured by the relative rate of leaf death during grain filling, was positively correlated with lodging at maturity in the Australian and Indian studies using experimental populations. In addition, stay-green was highly correlated with reduced lodging in environments where post-flowering drought stress occurred in trials of sorghum hybrids conducted by the GRDC funded sorghum core breeding program over many years. In another GRDC funded project, genetic lines were constructed where specific stay-green genes were introduced into a senescent line. When these lines were tested under post-flowering drought, the stay-green characteristic was shown to substantially reduce lodging. Evidence from a large body of research trials indicates the overwhelming value of stay-green in increasing grain yield, increasing grain size, and reducing lodging when drought occurs during grain-filling, which is commonly the case in Australia. Sorghum lines produced by the GRDC sorghum core breeding program with the stay-green trait are widely used in Australian commercial hybrids and in commercial breeding programs.


Extreme sorghum for extreme climates

David Jordan, Alan Cruickshank1, Emma Mace1, Vijaya Singh, Graeme Hammer

1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Warwick, QLD, Australia

For many years sorghum crop improvement has focused on water productivity by combining genotypes with agronomy to optimise use of water. Until recently, sensitivity to temperature stresses has been of lower importance. However, with the high levels of rainfall variability experienced by sorghum crops leading to variation in the timing of planting opportunities, temperature stress tolerance is becoming more critical. Projections of future climate indicate average temperatures will rise and variability in both rainfall and temperature will increase, thus exposing crops to extreme temperatures. This variability, combined with later or earlier planting, will increase the exposure of sorghum crops to temperature extremes at sensitive stages of crop growth and creates a need to develop new varieties with temperature stress tolerance.
The two most limiting and vulnerable phases of sorghum growth are crop establishment and flowering/seed-set. Providing genotypes with better tolerance of extremes during these phases will broaden the sowing date options of sorghum producers. Recent interdisciplinary research has found that the Sorghum species has useful genetic variation in both the capacity to emerge from cool soil and to tolerate higher temperatures at flowering. There is evidence that genes conditioning better seed-set at high temperatures also improve seed-set at low temperatures. This trait therefore confers broad adaptation to a range of conditions, not just to specific environments. Additional traits will allow us to tailor sorghum to meet changing production environments, including deeper or wider root distribution, improved water use efficiency and reduced water-loss in the hottest times.
To help Australian sorghum farmers manage and exploit increased variability in sowing opportunities we need to develop varieties that not only make best use of water resources but also have robust performance in a more variable environment. The opportunities, challenges and achievements of researching and deploying these candidate traits are described.

Success in breeding and research transforms mungbeans into ‘money beans’
Rex W Williams1

1. DAFFQ, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

Our mungbean industry celebrated early the UN’s 2016 ‘International Year of Pulses’ with excellent export prices and a near record crop of shiny green beans in 2015. For many growers, mungbeans have a new nickname: ‘money-beans’. Innovative research and breeding by Queensland scientists, in collaboration with industry, has transformed this industry and is underpinning exceptional growth.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) leads mungbean breeding efforts with our researchers also working to better protect mungbeans from insects and disease. Queensland-bred varieties now account for 95% of all mungbeans produced in Australia. Breeding continues to improve yields, grain quality and crop resilience in the face of drought and disease. Double-digit yield gains in successive DAF-bred varieties have increased grower confidence and doubled industry production from 35,000 to 70,000 tonnes since 2003.
University partnerships provide innovative research to further supercharge the mungbean industry. For example, the University of Queensland (UQ), through our Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), is delivering more productive and resilient management options. Revolutionary genetic tools and technologies are also being developed and tested in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is using its expertise in bacterial pathogens to help us address challenges from halo blight and tan spot. Queensland scientists are also working to deliver an international network to further improve research outcomes for our industry and our growers.
Industry partner, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) estimated that every dollar invested in the mungbean breeding program alone returned $18 of benefits to the industry. Our world-class efforts in mungbean breeding and research provide the key to delivering industry’s bold new target of 170,000 tonnes of mungbeans annually. This will ensure we remain the preferred supplier of premium, quality-assured mungbeans in competitive international markets.

Improving Soybean for Australian environments, grower and consumer preferences

Andrew T James1, Natalie Y Moore2

1. CSIRO, Agriculture, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia

2. Northern Cropping Systems , Department of Primary Industries, Grafton, NSW, Australia

Soybean improvement in Australia seeks to improve the adaptation, yield and quality to an extraordinarily wide range of challenging environments. We improve the adapted footprint of varieties via a combination of by broadening the range of planting dates and latitude to which varieties are adapted and though enhanced tolerance to herbicides. We improve local adaptation by targeting specific traits necessary, such as tolerance to pre-harvest weathering and various diseases. We target yield responsiveness as a means to improve yield potential in higher yielding and better managed environments. Higher value at the farm gate is targeted though enhanced culinary or feed values.


Postharvest storage management to reduce pests and preserve quality

Philip R Burrill1

1. DAF - Dept Agriculture & Fisheries, Warwick, QLD, Australia

In recent years Australia’s grain producers and the industry as a whole has made significant investments in new storage facilities. As a result producers are able to better manage harvest time logistics and also see value in ‘best practice’ storage management that provides grain segregations and the quality buyers and end users require.
Recent research into storage pest ecology, storage hygiene, fumigation products, and aeration cooling provides all sectors with valuable storage management information. How far storage pests fly, when to clean down facilities, which hygiene products are most effective, steps to achieve reliable fumigation results and how to check your aeration system is performing to reduce grain temperatures in storages.

Market access and biosecurity for Australian summer grain crops

Sharyn Taylor1, Kym McIntyre2, Rachel Taylor-Hukins3, Jim Moran4, Jeff Russell5, Judy Bellati6, Tony Russell7

1. Plant Health Australia, Deakin, ACT, Australia
2. Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
3. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW, Australia
4. Vic Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Epsom, Victoria, Australia
5. Department of Agriculture and Food WA, Northam, WA, Australia
6. Primary Industries and Resources SA, Glenside, SA, Australia
7. Grains Industry Market Access Forum , Sandringham, Vic, Australia

Australia’s geographic isolation and robust biosecurity system have limited the establishment of many pests, diseases and weeds of summer grain crops that result in significant production losses or costs in overseas countries. Australia’s production and export of summer grains continues to grow, with over 1.2 million tonnes of sorghum exported in 2014/15, which was valued at more than $300 million. The principle market for Australian sorghum is China. Preserving a strong biosecurity system that comprises border and whole of supply chain components will assist maintain production and increase market access opportunities for Australian summer grain crops.
In addition to minimising establishment of new pests, diseases and weeds, exported grain must comply with strict tolerance limits for certain pests, diseases and weeds that have already become established or are endemic to Australia. Overseas markets are increasingly requiring evidence that grain is both free of pest and weed issues and that the production practices used for their control have ensured that grain is safe for consumption. Markets are therefore conducting regular reviews of grain supply to assess protocols not only for grain handling and shipping but also through the whole of the supply chain.
This paper will outline biosecurity challenges for maintaining key overseas markets for summer grain crops produced in Australia and will describe the highest priority exotic plant pests of summer crops (sorghum, sunflower, soybeans, maize and mung bean) identified in the Grains Industry Biosecurity Plan. We will also provide information about on-farm biosecurity practices that can assist industry meet market requirements and comply with industry management plans.


On-Farm Grain Storage - Profit ? (Good), Breakeven? (Bad) or Loss? (Ugly)

Peter Botta1

1. PCB Consulting, Benalla, VICTORIA, Australia

On-Farm Grain Storage - Profit ? (Good), Breakeven? (Bad) or Loss? (Ugly)
On-farm grain storage has grown considerably in recent years as a response to deregulation, changes in marketing opportunities, harvest logistics and access to delivery points. It is anticipated that this increase will continue into the foreseeable future. Approximately 30-40% of grain production in the south eastern cropping area is stored on farm. Essentially storing grain on-farm should improve efficacy and profitability.
A quality on-farm storage system can manage grain quality, and deliver grain to meet current and future market requirements. Choice of system, insect and quality management are all decisions which will directly affect the system and supply chain, and are crucial to ensure product integrity is maintained.
There are many challenges for growers to manage; including managing existing facilities, investing in new facilities, managing insects, managing grain quality , ensuring treatments are used in accordance with best practice and meeting current and future requirements from the market.
Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities and potential for the on-farm storage system to meet the demands required of them to segregate, manage grain insects and quality to deliver a quality product to the enduser.
This paper discusses the on-farm grain storage system, management of the system and the opportunity for growers and end users to work together to ensure a quality product is delivered. At the end of the day storing grain is all about driving profitability whether it be for harvest logistics, managing delivery or marketing grain.
The impact of environment on productivity trends of sorghum and wheat in Australia
Andries Potgieter1, David Lobell, Graeme Hammer1, David Jordan1, Jason Brider, Peter Davis
1. QAAFI, University of Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
Globally as well as nationally, food production is being exposed to increased climatic and market volatility. The trend in sorghum yield in Australia has been consistent and positive over the last 30 years, while yield trends globally for other cereals like wheat, maize and rice have slowed. Australia is of interest not only as a major exporter in world markets, but also because considerable research effort has been focused on developing crops and practices that help to reduce the risks of yield losses under drought conditions. This study examines sorghum and wheat yield trends over the previous three to four decades in Australia after realistically accounting for the effects of year-to-year climate variability. Furthermore, we characterised the yield trends within three distinct types of crop stress environment. Overall trends in sorghum yields were 2.1%/ha/year (43 kg/ha/year), which was nearly double that of wheat (1.2%/ha/year; 21 kg/ha/year). However, in DRY environments, yield trends for sorghum were ~5 times greater than those for wheat, whereas trends were similar in WETTER environments.

Maize Marketing Strategies & Opportunities

Andrew Cogswell1

1. Lachlan Commodities Pty Limited, Forbes, NSW, Australia

How do we create more liquidity in the Australian Maize market to provide end users with consistency of supply and guarantee growers market outlets? The major theme in maize production is broadly a lack of confidence issue regarding the Supply & Demand on both sides of the market.
Currently there are very few options available to the industry. Zero access to ASX, Track Markets or the majority of Bulk Handling Sites. These three tools would create more liquidity for maize in Australia however we must get production & demand to a critical mass before the market will be forced to employ these tools.
What can we do to create critical mass? We must develop new marketing strategies that work for both the grower and the end user such as commodity spreads. We must create new markets that are valuable options to the grower and end user such as High Moisture Corn and White Corn.


Path to Growth and Prosperity: Australian Sunflower Industry Update

Liz Alexander

In 2012, the Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) asked the question: What does the Australian sunflower industry need to do to be considered a crop of choice by 2018, and how will we get there?
The answer was delivered via the Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic Plan 2013 -2018. The Plan had a core purpose: Grow production to meet domestic oil and feed demand every year. The Industry reasoned that greater availability of inputs, markets and industry capacity would flow as a consequence, and recognised that production would only increase if growers were confident that sunflower was a profitable crop.
The Plan looked at the barriers to growth, but more importantly identified strategies for success across six key industry priorities: Strong partnerships; New varieties accessing international germplasm; Removal of domestic barriers; Investment in research, development and extension; Managing and reducing disease risks; and Ensuring ASA is a healthy organisation.
These priorities were informed by a whole of industry supply chain workshop held in Toowoomba in 2012 and from surveys undertaken with growers and agronomists from throughout the northern and southern NSW, southern and central Queensland regions asking them to identify those activities which would most raise their profitability on-farm.
In 2016, average national production has dropped to under 40,000mt for the last three years, and a smaller number of hybrids are commercially available. Members of the industry could be justified in wondering what was the point?
This presentation provides a frank report on how the Australian sunflower industry is tracking against its targets, summarises the main themes that emerged from the industry survey and workshop, and explains the actions and timelines the industry has set.
Clearly the industry faces immediate challenges, but by working with its commercial and research partners the ASA is positioned to unlock significant new opportunities for growers.
Profitability from Dryland Mungbeans
Wade Bidstrup
At current values and with modern varieties, dryland mungbeans form one of the most profitable parts of a farming rotation. As well as being very profitable, they also offer opportunities to rotate herbicide groups, reduce the need for Nitrogen based fertilisers and help spread risk across a farming system. With careful preparation, management and timeliness the term 'mungrel beans' should be a thing of the past.


James Hunt1

1. Australian Choice Exports Pty Ltd, Kenmore, QLD, Australia
Since the release of Crystal in 2008 Australian Mungbeans has not only gained acceptance in the Asian markets but has become the preferred origin due to its large size, lustre and similarity to Chinese Mungbean. With Asia and Sub Continent demand, Australian Mungbean has risen and then risen some more to reach the lofty heights we see in
today’s spot market. How high can it go? Can it be sustained?



Ha H Truong1, 2, Sonia Y Liu1, Peter H Selle1

1. Poultry Research Foundation, University of Sydney, Camden, NSW, Australia
2. Poultry CRC, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia

The Australian grain sorghum harvest averaged 2.010 million tonnes from 2000 to 2014 inclusive and the entire crop could be utilised locally as a feedstuff for broiler chickens, pigs and feedlot cattle. This is not the case because the utilisation of starch/energy of sorghum-based diets is sub-standard and, erroneously, the stigma of condensed tannin and ‘bird-proof’ sorghums persists. Five feeding studies were completed in the fourth RIRDC Chicken-meat funded sorghum related project in which the Poultry Research Foundation has been involved. The primary objective was to identify the inherent factors that limit starch digestibility/energy utilisation in sorghum-based diets for chicken-meat production. The characteristics of particular interest were kafirin, non-tannin phenolic compounds and phytate. Dietary concentrations of kafirin (r = -0.655; P = 0.015) and total phenolic compounds (r = -0.569; P = 0.042) were negatively correlated with ME:GE ratios, or the efficiency of energy utilisation, in broiler chickens offered diets based on nine sorghum varieties across five feeding studies. White sorghum varieties, by definition, contain less polyphenols and probably less phenolic acids. Importantly, however, our contention is that kafirin, as a proportion of sorghum protein, has increased in Australian crops from 1998 to 2009 on the basis of changes in amino acid profiles. Therefore, we see a real need for geneticists to select sorghums with reduced kafirin proportions of sorghum protein, which classically stands at 55%. Thus the ‘ideal’ sorghum would be a white variety with low kafirin proportions of protein that is, hopefully, agronomically viable. Such an ideal sorghum would still contain phytate but this can be addressed by the dietary inclusions of exogenous phytase. Greater collaboration between the chicken-meat industry and grain sorghum production would be beneficial in achieving the mutual objective of improving sorghum as a feed grain for animal production.

Sorghum flaked cereal biscuits extend short-term satiety responses but do not increase the effectiveness of a weight-reduction diet in humans

Anita Stefoska-Needham1, 2, Eleanor J Beck2, Stuart K Johnson3, Linda C Tapsell2

1. School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia
2. School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia
3. School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

Consumer trends, particularly in populations with high rates of obesity, indicate a growing demand for food products with specific satiety-enhancing effects to assist with appetite control and weight management [1]. Gluten-free whole grain sorghum (rich in dietary fibre, slowly digestible starches (SDS) and polyphenolic compounds) has been identified as a potential ingredient in the formulation of food products targeted for appetite control [2]. Rigorous human clinical trials are necessary to build evidence for these purported effects, including studies that examine the underlying satiety-enhancing mechanisms [3]. This paper presents results of two studies investigating sorghum’s potential to assist in satiety-enhancement and consequently long-term weight management. The first trial was a crossover study aiming to test the acute effects of eating 50g of three different whole grain sorghum flaked biscuits (white, red or brown sorghum), or wheat (control)) on appetite responses and food intake in healthy subjects [3]. Sorghum biscuits increased subjective satiety ratings (p<0.001) and appetite-regulating hormones (p<0.05) compared to a wheat biscuit control, with red sorghum biscuits showing overall greatest effects. Polyphenols were implicated in the satiety-enhancing actions. These results informed the choice of a red sorghum biscuit to test in the subsequent 3-month randomised controlled trial (RCT). This RCT aimed to examine specific effects on chronic disease biomarkers or health outcomes from a sorghum-enriched intervention diet compared to a wheat-based control diet. The primary outcome was a difference in weight reduction between the two groups and secondary outcomes included an array of metabolic, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers (measured at 0 and 12 weeks). Although the acute satiety results were promising, they did not translate to weight reduction differences between a wheat control and sorghum cereal group in an energy-restricted diet. However, most clinical indices were reduced significantly over time (including glucose, insulin, cholesterol) (p<0.05). Any subtle effects may have been masked by significant weight loss in both groups, though with longer exposure these differences may have been detectable.
1. [1] Hetherington, M. M., Cunningham, K., Dye, L., Gibson, E. L., Gregersen, N. T., Halford, J. C., Lawton, C. L., Lluch, A., Mela, D. J. & Van Trijp, H. C. 2013. Potential benefits of satiety to the consumer: scientific considerations. Nutrition Research Reviews, 26, 22-38.
2. [2] Stefoska-Needham, A., Beck, E. J., & Tapsell, L. C. 2015. (Unpublished). Perspective: The path to confirming and exploiting potential satiety-enhancing effects of sorghum-based foods for human diets. Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops and Foods.

3. [3] Stefoska-Needham, A., Beck, E. J., Johnson, S. K. & Tapsell, L. C. 2015. Sorghum: an underutilized cereal whole grain with the potential to assist in the prevention of chronic disease. Food Rev. Int. vol. 31, pp. 401-437.
4. [4] Stefoska-Needham, A., Beck, E. J., Johnson, S. K. Chu, J. & Tapsell, L. C. (In press). Flaked sorghum biscuits increase post-prandial GLP-1 and GIP levels and extend subjective satiety in healthy subjects. Mol. Nutr. Food Res.


Development of sorghum foods for chronic disease prevention

Stuart Johnson1, Anita Steofoska-Needham2, Eleanor Beck2, Tapsell Linda2

1. School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
2. School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Sorghum grain is an important staple food for countless millions of people around the globe and as such is vital for their food security. Recently the potential of sorghum grain for the manufacture of palatable food products that may help protect against chronic diseases has been realised. The high levels of polyphenolic antioxidants and slow starch digestibility characteristics of sorghum-containing foods indicates their potential to be highly satiating (providing feeling of “fullness”), to give low blood glucose response and to reduce oxidative stress after their consumption [1]. These effects in turn may protect against obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. A process optimisation study of sorghum-maize extruded snack food was able to develop a product with appropriate texture whilst maximising its level of slowly digested starch and antioxidant activity [2]. Human studies have demonstrated that a meal of pasta incorporating whole grain red sorghum flour was acceptable to consumers [3] and gave higher satiety levels and lower blood glucose response than the equivalent white sorghum or control (durum only) pastas [4]. In addition, the red sorghum pasta meal also resulted in improved blood markers for oxidative stress [5]. A study on whole grain flaked breakfast cereals has reported that participants had greater satiety after consuming the product manufactured from red sorghum compared to the ones from wheat, white sorghum or brown sorghum [6]. This satiety effect of the red sorghum flaked breakfast cereal was supported by significant differences in the participants’ appetite hormone levels after consuming this product [6]. Further research is now required to identify the optimal sorghum varieties and production environments to produce grain with maximum human nutrition and health attributes for use by the food industry. In turn food formulation and manufacturing processes for sorghum foods require optimising to maximise both the consumer acceptability and the health benefits of these foods.
1. Stefoska-Needham, A., Beck, E. J., Johnson, S. K. & Tapsell, L. C. 2015. Sorghum: an underutilized cereal whole grain with the potential to assist in the prevention of chronic disease. Food Rev. Int. vol. 31, pp. 401-437.
2. Licata, R., Coorey R., Zhao, Y., Chu, J. & Johnson, S. 2015. Maximizing slowly digested starch in an expanded sorghum-maize extruded food using response surface methodology. Starch. vol. 67, pp. 285-293.
3. Khan, I., Yousif, A. M., Johnson, S. K. & Gamlath, S. 2014. Effect of sorghum flour addition on in vitro starch digestibility, cooking quality and consumer acceptability of durum wheat pasta. J. Food Sci. vol. 79, pp. S1560-S1567.
4. Khan, I. 2014. Health Potential of Sorghum-Containing Pasta: In Vitro and Clinical Studies. PhD Thesis, Deakin University.
5. Khan, I., Yousif, A. M., Johnson, S. K. & Gamlath, S. 2015. Acute effect of sorghum flour-containing pasta on plasma total polyphenols, antioxidant capacity and oxidative stress markers in healthy subjects: A randomised controlled trial. Clin. Nutr. vol. 34, pp. 415-421.
6. Stefoska-Needham, A., Beck, E. J., Johnson, S. K. Chu, J. & Tapsell, L. C. (in press). Flaked sorghum biscuits increase post-prandial GLP-1 and GIP levels and extend subjective satiety in healthy subjects. Mol. Nutr. Food Res.

Sorghum – an important cereal for human health

Michael Netzel1, Jane Lim1, Gabriele Netzel1, Alan Cruickshank2, Ian Godwin3, David Jordan1, Glen Fox1
1. QAAFI, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
2. Hermitage Research Facility, Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, Warwick, QLD, Australia
3. School of Agriculture & Food Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Sorghum is fifth in worldwide cereal production and Australia’s major summer grain crop. While most Australian sorghum is used as feed grain, it has many qualities which could prove beneficial to human health. Depending on the genotype, sorghum can represent an excellent source of health-promoting phytochemicals, particularly polyphenols. Furthermore, yellow-endosperm sorghum varieties can contain significant levels of carotenoids (pro-Vitamin A). In the present study, six different sorghum genotypes, grown at two sites in Northern NSW were analysed for free and bound phenolic compounds, and carotenoids. The matrix release/bioaccessibility of the main phenolic compounds, as an initial measure to predict their potential bioavailability, was assessed by a validated in-vitro digestion model. Additionally, starch digestion experiments were carried out to measure the release kinetics of glucose (“sugar load”). The highest polyphenolic content observed was in Shawaya Black (1,37 mg/g dry weight (dw)), a dark-purple genotype, with luteolinidin as the predominant free phenolic compound. Karper 669, a yellow coloured genotype, was the richest source of carotenoids (>2 μg/g dw), with lutein as the main carotenoid. The relative release/bioaccessibility of phenolic compounds was highest in Shawaya Black and Karper 669 (16% and 26%, respectively). However, the absolute release of phenolics was four times higher (p < 0.05) in Shawaya Black compared to Karper 669, due to its very high phenolic content. Furthermore, starch digestion was slowest for Shawaya Black, resulting in a significantly (p<0.05) lower glucose release compared to all other tested sorghum genotypes. Shawaya Black was identified as the most promising candidate in terms of health promoting “properties”. While the actual in-vivo relevance of these in-vitro results, including the impact of matrix-bound phenolics on the gut microbiota and gut health, needs to be investigated in human studies, the overall results support the potential human health benefits of sorghum.


Whyalla Beef HMC

Gino De Stefani1

1. Whyalla Beef Pty Ltd, Texas, QLD, Australia

Over the last 5 years Whyalla Beef has continued to develop the use of HMC as a key commodity at its Whyalla Feedlot. HMC has become a favourable feed commodity because of its palatability, ease of use and suitable substitute for winter grains that need further processing. Being a product that has a long shelf life when stored correctly, and low cost of processing relative to other cereals has ensured that annual consumption has increased from less than 1000MT in 2013 to 22000 MT in 2014.
Through some trial and error WHB has been able to refine purchase programs and methods of receival to ensure continued growth as a major ingredient in the rations at Whyalla, a 50000 head feedlot located near Texas on the QLD NSW Border. If suitable interest is achieved it is proposed that a new brand of product will be developed using HMC as a key component. The new line would be expected to complement existing brands such as “Barley Beef”, “Angus Reserve” and “Hereford Reserve”.

Mungbean as a functional food

Stephen Donnelly1

1. The Blue Ribbon Group, Richlands, QLD, Australia

Mungbean has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years, playing a prominent role in traditional Chinese and Indian cultures. With its health benefits, Mungbean deserves a central role in contemporary cuisine as well. Research linking consumption of Mungbean to positive health, nutrition and longevity continues to emerge. This correlates with growing numbers of mainstream consumers seeking food products that are tasty, nutritious and convenient. In light of this, it’s timely the humble Mungbean comes of age and adapts to a market seeking versatile, convenient and appetizing products.
For this to occur, the long-standing barriers of taste and accessibility must be broken down. We are at a point where this is achievable through unique technology that removes the grassy, astringent taste of Mungbean, whilst releasing its innate nutty flavours. This technology facilitates the production of Mungbean food products as well as ingredients like Mungbean flour and kibble. With a new taste profile and maintained nutrition, the Mungbean represents the perfect low-allergen raw material food substitute.
Potential applications of Mungbean products include use as a sauce or topping, a spreadable paste, or in meat products and baked goods. The application of this technology will be of particular value to consumers in the “free from” market.
It’s anticipated these applications will institute a new customer base for pulses, create consistent consumer demand and insulate the domestic market from overseas volatility. Furthermore, value adding prior to export means the dollar stays here.


Social Media 101

Meg Kummerow1

1. Future Focused Business Solutions, Bongeen, QLD, Australia

Social Media 101 will discuss why farmers should get on board with social media & will include a hands on session showing attendees how to get started in social media & will help them get signed up. The session will also touch on why it is important that farmers are involved in the conversations happening in social media that surround farming.
Social Media networks that will be discussed are: Twitter, Facebook, Periscope & Instagram, plus others depending on interest or questions on the day.
Participants will come away with an understanding of how to fully complete their profiles & why having fully complete profiles is important, how to post on your chosen social network, how to follow conversations on social networks.
This session will be at an introductory level for those with little or no knowledge of social media but who are interested in how it all works


Phenotyping of sorghum breeding trials through proximal sensing technologies

Andries Potgieter1, James Watson1, David Jordan1, Graeme Hammer1, Marie Bouteille-Palla1, Robert Armstrong1, Greg Mclean2, Kenneth Laws3, Barbara George-Jaeggli1, Scott Chapman4, Edward Holland4

1. QAAFI, University of Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
3. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Warwick, QLD, Australia
4. CSIRO, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Globally as well as nationally, food production is being exposed to a number of key challenges. Improving living standards and rising populations are driving continued increase in demand. Climate variability and change has the potential to significantly impact yields, and highly volatile markets confound production and investment decisions. Crop breeding will continue to play a significant role in generating the step change in productivity at the plant/field and farm level needed to meet these challenges. However, monitoring and capturing of physiological and phenological traits of sorghum breeding trials are time consuming and costly. This study outlines the application and ability of proximal sensing technologies to enhance plant-breeding research outcomes. Specifically, we describe the set-up of a software pipeline to capture, manipulate and analyze BIG DATA from (i) proximal sensors on-board a phenotyping platform and (ii) small remotely piloted aircraft (drones). We discuss the use of high-resolution spatial characterisation of time-sequence data, obtained from hyperspectral, distance and thermal sensors, to derive estimates for Percentage Crop Cover, % greenness, tillering/head counts, crop stress, and photosynthesis parameters. By reducing the data collection cost, the amount of data available is increased, which improves estimation. Application of these technologies across breeding plots will enhance phenotyping capabilities and hence the ability to discriminate among responses of genotypes.


Determining the number of sorghum heads using a state-of-the-art image recognition feature extraction approach

Andries Potgieter1, Keerthy Kusuman2, David Jordan3, Graeme Hammer3, Robert Armstrong3, Greg McLean4, Kenneth Laws5, Scott Chapman3, 6, George Tzimiropoulos7, James Watson3

1. QAAFI, University of Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
2. School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK
3. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation , The University of Queensland, Australia, QLD
4. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland, QLD, Australia
5. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland, QLD, Australia
6. CSIRO Argriculture Flagship, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
7. Jubilee Campus , University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Monitoring and capturing physiological and phenological traits within sorghum breeding trials is time consuming and costly. For example the current method for estimating tillering involves counting or scoring head and tiller number across thousands of plots across multiple trials. However, this information often proves too costly to collect at every plot within all breeding trials. Previous research has shown that the use of the visible bands (Red, Green, Blue) from a lightweight camera on-board a small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drone can be successfully utilised to extract specific crop canopy features like percentage crop cover, % greenness and number of heads. However, the automation and thus the ability to extrapolate such approaches across whole breeding trials remains a challenge. Here we test and validate a novel image analysis approach that utilises state-of-the-art facial pattern recognition algorithms to extract sorghum heads. This is done through training of a binary classification (heads vs non-heads) and texture machine learning algorithms using the training data and bootstrapping methods to correctly identify the sorghum heads in each image. Application of these technologies across breeding plots will enhance phenotyping capabilities and hence the ability to accurately discriminate tiller, head and likely crop yield responses among genotypes. Furthermore, this will further the creation of an automated high through-put proximal sensing platform that is likely to augment breeders’ ability to rapidly determine crop phenotyping attributes across different breeding lines. The deployment of these methods into breeding programs will result in faster delivery of commercial hybrids with more specific adaptation to environments where tillering is more or is less useful to increase yield.



Securing y our Future through ‘Agvocacy’

Meg Kummerow1

1. Future Focused Business Solutions, Bongeen, QLD, Australia

The Securing your Future through ‘Agvocacy’ session will be a more in depth look at why it is important for farmers to be engaging with consumers.
Farmers stories are being told for them and quite often the information being shared by ‘experts’ is inaccurate & one sided. Having farmers who are savvy with how to handle social media conversations is an important step in getting the truth about farming told.
The session will discuss ways to build your audience, engage with consumers, what are the best social media platforms to use and what to do when tricky discussions arise.
This session will be for both beginners wanting more information and those who have been involved in social media for some time but want to learn more tips on building networks.