Future farming unearthed in the Mid West

Geoff VivianMidwest Times
DPIRG research officer Martin Harries monitored 184 paddocks to learn more about better farming.
Camera IconDPIRG research officer Martin Harries monitored 184 paddocks to learn more about better farming. Credit: Martin Harries

A Geraldton-based agricultural scientist has been funded to conduct PhD studies into better practices for farmers facing the challenges of climate change, disease and weed control in changing times.

“I have been looking at the relationship between crop and pasture sequences and the management methods farmers are employing and the impact it is having,” DPIRD research officer Martin Harries said.

“The research builds on a five- year project that I led, where we monitored 184 paddocks throughout the Wheatbelt from Geraldton down to Ravensthorpe.

“From 2010 to 2015, we charged around all these different paddocks and took tons of measurements and took farmers’ records and were able to compare them.”

He said this with the air of an adventurer who had entered a darkened Aladdin’s cave, filling a sack with loot he was finally able to empty on to the table to examine.

“We amassed a large dataset, visiting the paddocks several times each year and matching those results we got from the biological testing on those visits,” Mr Harries said.

“We matched that up with the productivity of the paddock and also the farm input.”

He said while he had already learned a lot about the impact of weeds, plant disease and plant nutrition within the paddocks that they monitored, there was plenty of scope for further analysis.

“The dataset is unique, you very rarely find a dataset over such a wide geographical area and time span, which matches what is going on in the paddock, or how the paddock is being managed,” Mr Harries said.

While he continues to work in Geraldton as a DPIRD research officer, he will be conducting his doctoral studies through the University of Western Australia.

Mr Harries’ research will be funded by a WA Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Grains R&D Post Graduate Scholarship.

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