Research farm turns one

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

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It has been a year since BASF opened the gates at its agricultural solutions research farm in Tamworth.

BASF opened an agricultural solutions (AgSolution) research farm at Tamworth in July 2015. Since then, the team has conducted over 70 individual trials and contributed significantly to the development of two new products that will bring a range of benefits to Australian farmers’ bottom line.

With the capacity to conduct over 100 trials at a time, the farm’s mission is to trial solutions developed by BASF’s global experts in typical Australian conditions and help bring them to market quicker. The Tamworth region is an ideal location for the research as it has climatic conditions and soil types representative of a wide range of strategically important agricultural regions in Australia. It is also suitable for growing globally important crops such as cereals, corn and soybeans, supporting BASF’s global product development. “The 27-hectare site has three distinct soil types, which have been mapped using EM38 proximal sensors and GPS, allowing for a high level of accuracy,” said Russell Ison, manager of the AgSolution farm at Tamworth.

“Using tailor-made equipment, our trials can be individually irrigated with state-of-the-art, GPS-guided lateral irrigation equipment, allowing for maximum efficiency."

“Our 40-square-metre glasshouse, with a computer-controlled environment, lets us grow summer and winter crops out ofseason, using precise temperature and humidity control. This gives us detailed herbicide, pest and disease resistance ratings.”

For their field disease trials, Mr Ison and his colleagues get support from microbiologists at BASF’s nearby site in Somersby who produce the relevant strains of diseaseinoculant – a vital tool for valuable field work. Over the past 12 months, more than 70 individual trials and over a dozen demonstrations have been conducted at thefarm in Tamworth. As such, the team has already played a big role in the development of two new products set to bring a range of benefits to Australian farmers’ bottom line.

Systiva is helping to reduce disease in barley and Butisan is helping to manage herbicide resistant weeds with a new mode of action for canola production.

Gavin Heard, head of development and regulatory affairs in crop protection, Australia and New Zealand, said work at the farm was dedicated to helping growers in the future.

“We’ve been hard at work at the farm over the past year,” he said. “We want to enable Australian growers to more readily access cutting-edge solutions across a range of economically valuable crops, to meet their future challenges.

“The farm is an integral part of our long-term ability to drive productivity benefits in Australian agriculture and build local knowledge in collaboration with key distributors, grower groups, technical experts and government organisations.”

The AgSolution farm also provides a training facility for customers and employees. In 2016, the team will continue to expand the farm’s capacity by initiating trials in specialty crops, with trials planned for horticultural crops and vegetables. The team will also focus on further developing BASF’s collaborative projects with leading Australian universities and technical experts.