AgEtal’s Contribution to Pasture Dieback Research

A few years back I was approached by several of our pasture industry customers and asked for my opinion on Pasture Dieback (PD). At that time, I had not even really heard of it, let alone seen it or formed any opinion.

Nevertheless, one of our customers took me to a farm in the Biggenden area that had experienced PD. I looked at the phenomenon with a completely open mind: soil nutrition, fungal pathogen, nematode, insect? I really didn’t have a clue, and looked at everything within our capability that was above and below the soil.

Over time, I have indeed formed opinions based on what I have seen. I am sure that some of my thoughts of causes are at least partially true. No doubt, some will be wrong. Others have considered the problem also. I am certain that there is at least some truth to most of what is being said. I am equally certain that this is a hugely vexing and complex problem that has been developing since properties were first opened up for modern agriculture.

Over the past two years we at AgEtal have been actively supporting Melody Thomson (University of Queensland), who is engaged with PhD research on an aspect of PD, the Ground Pearl. I have undertaken a multi-property survey trip with Melody looking at PD under wide spread and quite different properties. There is a group from QUT working on Mealy Bugs as a putative cause. In the time that I have been involved, I have developed a passionate interest in PD. In particular, I am interested in what might be contributing to the success of probably multiple biological causes.

Without preempting the work that I’m planning, I want to inform you that I am about to embark on a PhD project on PD myself. I will be doing this through UQ and working alongside Melody. We hope to deliver research that will make a profound difference to Australia’s pastoral industries in terms of sustainability.

My research will be part time and will not impact on the performance of AgEtal unless in a positive way. We will maintain our commitment to provide high quality seed and grain testing in the shortest possible timeframe.

If you have any questions about the research you can send them directly to me.

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