Research agronomists addressing frost damage in grain crops

FROSTY MORNING: DEDJTR’s Dr James Nuttall taking readings from one of the frost-out shelters erected as part of the Regional Research Agronomist program to develop an early warning system for frost damage to crops.

ALTHOUGH it’s a bit late to be talking about frost damage to crops, it’s encouraging to at least know research agronomists are addressing one of modern cropping’s most vexing questions – just how much damage has frost caused?

In recent seasons, crops at various stages of growth have been hit by frost, but understanding the true impact of these freezing conditions is often not immediately apparent.

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources agronomists have begun assessing the potential of in-paddock frost damage and are investigating if remote sensing tools hold the key for early detection of crop damage.

They are part of the Regional Research Agronomist (RRA) program, which translates relevant national grains research to regional development in the southern region.

RRA program leader Dr James Nuttall said frost posed a significant threat to production with wheat damage estimated to cause at least $120 million in losses annually in Australia.

“If remote sensing technologies can be used to rapidly determine frost damage, it will assist farmers with in-season crop management decisions,” he said.

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