Heritage trial sown ahead of Horsham Grains Innovation Park's 50th anniversary

HERITAGE TRIAL: Wimmera grain varieties were sown ahead of the Grains Innovation Park 50th anniversary later this year. Picture: CONTRIBUTED
HERITAGE TRIAL: Wimmera grain varieties were sown ahead of the Grains Innovation Park 50th anniversary later this year. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A FIELD demonstration showing the evolution of crop varieties grown in the Wimmera was hand-sown by Agriculture Victoria staff in Horsham last week.

The heritage trial will showcase wheat, barley, field pea, lentil, chickpea, canola and safflower varieties that are currently grown in the region, and many varieties that were grown in years gone by.

The trial has been established as part of the Grains Innovation Park 50th anniversary celebrations later this year.

Situated behind the Australian Grains Genebank at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham, the public will have an opportunity to view the trial throughout 2018.

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist Garry Rosewarne said he designed the trial in collaboration with Grains Innovation Park research staff.

“Our researchers made suggestions about what varieties to include in the trial,” he said.

The heritage trial will also tell the story of pulse adoption and adaptation in the Wimmera.

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist Garry Rosewarne

“Then we all got together and hand-sowed the plots.”

Included in the demonstration are 29 wheat varieties.

This includes old lines such as Federation and Olympic right through to newer releases such as Mace and Scepter, as well as some still-to-be-released varieties.

Barley lines will range from the 1968 released Clipper variety, through to some of today’s Clearfield varieties such as Scope CL.

In total 21 different barley varieties will feature in the demonstration.

The diversity captured through the Australian Grains Genebank will also be demonstrated with some ornamental wheat and barley lines included in the trial that have different morphologies such as black glumes and club heads.

“The heritage trial will also tell the story of pulse adoption and adaptation in the Wimmera,” he said.

“The trial will show how we have evolved from favouring trailing pea varieties such as Dun to our more recent semi dwarf lines such as Kaspa and the recently-released PBA Butler.

“Lentils and chickpeas will also feature, being crops that are such an important part of the farming story in this region, including how breeders responded to outbreaks of ascochyta blight.”

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist Garry Rosewarne.

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist Garry Rosewarne.

Agriculture Victoria plant production sciences research director Traci Griffin said an enormous amount of planning had gone into the trial and the sowing activities.

“We had 23 staff volunteer to help sow the trial, ranging from graduates to some of our senior researchers,” she said.

“As a result we were able to hand sow 20 plots to seven crop varieties in less than an hour.”

The Heritage Trial is just one element of the Grains Innovation Park 50th anniversary celebrations.

A display recognising the site’s history and showcasing the work carried out at the park is currently being put together.

From July this year stakeholders, business, schools and community groups will be invited to book in for a tour of the site which will take in the world-class phenomics facility, the Australian Grains Genebank and the Heritage Trial. 

The 50th anniverary celebrations will end with an open day on October 18.