New variety agronomy

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) New Variety Agronomy Science Program integrates:

  • new variety and breeder line evaluation
  • agronomic research
  • market quality evaluation capabilities in crop improvement. 

We work towards increasing farm productivity by:

  • facilitating the delivery of high yielding, profitable grain varieties that are well adapted to a range of soil types, environments and farming systems
  • conducting field research on:
    • crop varietal biotic and abiotic stress tolerance and adaptation
    • crop agronomy and management
  • providing accredited, unbiased information to farmers on crop variety performance and specific management guidelines to achieve the full potential of new varieties.  

The program includes all major winter field crops, including:

  • cereals (wheat, barley, oats, triticale)
  • pulses (field peas, lentils, faba beans, lupins, chickpeas)
  • oilseeds (canola, mustard).  
We have an extensive network of field research sites on private farms and research centres across the grain producing districts of southern Australia. This coverage:

  • ensures the local relevance of crop variety and management information
  • facilitates successful, rapid adoption of new varieties and technology by producers.  

Our team comprises 25 professional and technical support roles in a network of regional research teams. We have offices, laboratories, workshop facilities, and mobile field crop research equipment based at:

  • Struan
  • Loxton
  • Waite
  • Clare
  • Minnipa
  • Port Lincoln.  

Mr Rob Wheeler leads the science program, which has 3 subprograms:

  • New Variety Evaluation and Cereal Agronomy
  • Pulse Agronomy and Herbicide Tolerance
  • Oilseed Agronomy.

Subprograms and research focus

New Variety Evaluation and Cereal Agronomy

This subprogram focuses on:

  • managing National Variety Trials (NVT) throughout South Australia and the Victorian Mallee for all winter field crops, which includes more than 150 field trials across 90 locations
  • preparing and distributing the SA Crop Variety Sowing Guides and Harvest Reports to help guide choice of crop variety and management decisions.

We conduct research in:

  • barley agronomy and the management of new varieties, as part of a collaborative project across south-eastern Australia
  • tolerance of new cereal and pulse varieties to commonly used herbicides and tank mixes, including coordinating Australia-wide research in this area
  • identifying and screening for genotypes of wheat and barley with high phosphorus (P) use efficiency, and providing growers with varieties that are more responsive to available soil P and which require less P fertiliser.

Our research and capacity building in local farming systems groups includes:

  • the MacKillop Group (South East)
  • Hart (Mid North)
  • Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group (YPASG)
  • Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association (LEADA)
  • Mid North High Rainfall Zone Group and Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation (EPARF).

We also conduct contract research for other organisations including:

  • breeding companies and programs
  • The University of Adelaide
  • CSIRO
  • agribusiness companies.

Subprogram contact

Mr Rob Wheeler
Phone: 0401 148 935
Email: rob.wheeler@sa.gov.au

Pulse Agronomy and Herbicide Tolerance

On behalf of Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA), this subprogram focuses on developing improved lines of pulses  for variety release through early generation selection and evaluation of pulses including:

  • lentil
  • field pea
  • chickpea
  • lupins
  • faba bean.

Our work involves:

  • understanding the genotype by environment and genotype by management interactions in South Australia
  • assessing lines for yield, quality, disease and agronomic characteristics
  • screening early generation PBA material for tolerances to registered herbicides.

The team also focuses on developing herbicide tolerant crops with the aim of improving weed management. This research and development includes:

  • developing lentil, chickpea and faba bean germplasm with tolerance to novel herbicides
  • developing lentil, chickpea, field pea and faba bean germplasm with improved tolerance to registered herbicides
  • facilitating the development of herbicide tolerant pulses for PBA via simple, efficient and cost effective herbicide tolerance screening techniques and marker technology
  • providing industry with varietal herbicide recommendations for maximising weed control and limiting off-target damage through commercial variety screening of all crops.

Subprogram contacts

Larn McMurray
Phone: 0417 898 803
Email: larn.mcmurray@sa.gov.au

Amanda Pearce
Phone:  (08) 8762 9194
Email: amanda.pearce@sa.gov.au

Oilseed Agronomy

This subprogram seeks to optimise canola profitability through understanding the relationship between physiology, tactical agronomy and disease management across South Australia and Victoria.

Subprogram contact
Andrew Ware
Phone: 0427 884 272
Email: andrew.ware@sa.gov.au

Program leader

Mr Rob Wheeler
Science Leader, New Variety Agronomy
SARDI Sustainable Systems

GPO Box 397 Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: 0401 148 935
Email: rob.wheeler@sa.gov.au

Page Last Reviewed: 06 Feb 2015
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