GM technology uptake 'modest' in debut season

GM technology uptake 'modest' in debut season

Cropping
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The uptake of GM canola by SA croppers has been described as "modest".

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THE uptake of genetically-modified canola by SA croppers has been described as "modest", with interest reported on the lower Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Mid North, Murray Mallee and the South East.

Pioneer farm services consultant Jamie Wilson said the uptake of GM canola seed had been modest as many croppers were still "waiting and seeing" how the first season went.

"But there are a few guys growing it in the Mid North because of clethodim resistance issues," he said.

"It is also useful because there is no residual, so if there is a crop failure, you can plant back easily."

Mr Wilson will be talking about the different canola varieties available and their suitability in a farming system at a Mallee Sustainable Farming forum at Parilla next week, alongside Bayer's Tim Murphy, who will be going through the online GM canola accreditation process.

Mr Murphy said uptake had been at a "manageable size", which he hoped would enable a favourable grower experience.

"We want all growers to have a positive result from their first year," he said.

Platinum Ag Clare agronomist Phil Holmes said uptake had only been "low level" in his region, but not from a lack of interest.

"People would like to see more local trials of the GM technology and they are waiting to see what the price differentials will be compared with conventional canola varieties," he said.

"But those growing it were attracted to the podguard technology. Last year we had terrible winds in spring and clients had canola losses of up to 1 tonne a hectare.

"If we can get that variety to perform well in this area, that will change the canola market here significantly."

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Independent agronomist Craig Davis, Salter Springs, said GM canola was going to be helpful for locals running out of grass control options.

"But for this season, growers will mainly just be putting their toe in the water, to understand how the process works, what's involved in growing the technology and assessing the price differentials," he said.

"Many were also deterred by the initial seed costs, so they want to see how it performs first in the region."

Elders Naracoorte agronomist Jason McClure said the technology "didn't quite fit" in rotations this season.

"Canola isn't a big part of programs down here, while some are not willing to be the first to try it," he said.

"We also have glyphosate-resistant ryegrass. We're not going to manage that better with more glyphosate."

Nutrien Ag Solutions Naracoorte agronomist James Heffernan agreed uptake had been minimal due to glyphosate-resistant weeds and market access concerns.

"We had to be planning six months ago about whether we wanted to order seed, as canola seed access these days is hard, so most are running with standard programs for this season," he said.

Viterra operations manager Michael Hill said the company was finalising its preliminary segregation plan and would communicate to growers where it would receive GM canola "shortly".

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