A VICTORIAN-based research facility will use cutting edge research equipment to conduct trials on which grain varieties will be better suited to Australia's increasingly extreme and variable climate.
The Horsham SmartFarm, dedicated to grains research and funded by the Victorian government, will be the home of the Free Air Temperature Extreme (FATE) facility.
The FATE facility will allow researchers to simulate extremes of temperature and weather to see which grain varieties cope the best with tough growing season conditions.
Longer term, the data will assist the breeding sector in selecting germplasm that might be able to lead to varieties with better drought and heat tolerance.
The investment in the FATE facility is part of a Victorian state government pledge to assist grain growers to become more resilient to the threat of climate change.
Ag Vic staff identified heat waves at critical periods during the growing season, particularly in spring and late spring frosts as major challenges for grain growers.
The FATE facility uses unique technology that simulates extreme weather events, including heat waves and frost, to measure how cereal, oil and pulse crops perform under these conditions in open-field environments.
Logistics-wise, the facility uses open-air radiant heaters that are affixed to mobile trolleys that are moved around the trials so that heat can be applied at specific temperatures and times.
The data is in turn captured and fed back to the researchers for analysis on how different crop species and varieties within the species cope with extremes of temperature.
This data will support research into developing grain growing strategies that are effective under a changing climate and help farmers understand how environmental factors affect the response of new crop varieties, their resistance to pests and disease, and crop production techniques.
It will not just be farmers in the Wimmera region that benefit from the research.
With access to real-world data, the FATE facility will also enable researchers to use computer simulation models to forecast grain growing strategies for other that don't have access to this on-ground technology.
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