Research to get to root cause of crop diseases

The University of Southern Queensland is part of a national collaboration investigating the frequency and distribution of potential soil-borne disease-causing pathogens in crops such as pulses (including chickpea and faba bean) and oilseeds (including canola and soybean).

Until recently, little has been known about the status of soil-borne pathogens in regions where pulses and oilseeds are grown.

However, a national survey is continuing in 2020 across the southern, western and northern growing regions, to build on information generated out of a similar national survey in 2019.

Through a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment, the University of Southern Queensland is working with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Agriculture Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia, and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Samples from Queensland cropping areas are being collected by the University’s Dr Kirsty Owen, a crop health scientist specialising in management of root-lesion nematodes.

She has encouraged growers and advisers who observe poorly performing pulse or oilseed crops to provide samples for analysis.

“The survey results will contribute to developing a picture of the situation in Queensland of pathogens responsible for soil-borne diseases and their distribution,” Dr Owen said.

“The results will also be communicated back to growers and advisers free of charge, providing useful information about the pathogens present in paddocks.”

Leading the national initiative is research scientist Blake Gontar from SARDI, the research division of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA).

Mr Gontar said unlike foliar diseases, knowledge around root diseases in pulse and oilseed crops was limited.

“The reason we are undertaking this survey work is that we don’t have a good handle on which pathogens exist in areas where pulse and oilseed crops are grown, as well as their frequency and distribution,” he said.

Researchers are keen to receive root samples representative of all pulse and oilseed growing regions, as well as seeking observations and reports from growers and advisers.

Agronomists and growers can contribute samples to the survey by contacting Dr Kirsty Owen via kirsty.owen@usq.edu.au.

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Samples from Queensland cropping areas are being collected by the University’s Dr Kirsty Owen, a crop health scientist specialising in management of root-lesion nematodes.

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