Research Program to Unearth Frost Management Strategies for EP Farms

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A three-year research program will put tactics and strategies to the test to find new ways to minimise the risk of frost damage to crops on farms on the Eyre Peninsula.

The project will test a mix of contributing factors and potential solutions to find ‘best-bet’ frost management solutions for the region. It builds on investigations into frost reduction strategies that were the subject of earlier research work conducted at local trial sites during 2022 and 2023.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has granted $302,000 for the project, which will be led by AIR EP, and delivered by EPAG Research and a steering committee of local independent advisors.

Research trials will investigate several promising strategies, including soil amelioration, sowing times, rotational impacts, and mixed plantings, applying different planting and management strategies to high-frost zones.

AIR EP Executive Officer Naomi Scholz said trials would be developed with input from growers, agronomists and researchers.

“Frost is a real risk in broadacre farming, and understanding how we can reduce the likelihood of damage or mitigate some of that risk through on-farm practices will give growers an edge when it comes to protecting their crops and maximising their yield potential,” she said.

“This funding allows us to extend our research and take a deeper look at promising strategies, as well as new and emerging technologies and varieties.

“There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all approach to frost management, but our previous research has shown that there are some areas of potential. We’re excited to see how these perform in different sites and trials across the EP over the next three years.

“Our ultimate goal is to unearth practical options that can be applied by growers on-farm to reduce crop losses and damage caused by frost.”

Trials will be developed through grower, agronomist and research participation in planning and will focus on a range of tactics and strategies including:

• Crop variety phenological characteristics and flowering time.

• Investigating other variety characteristics, such as awnless varieties that may be better suited to hay production.

•Using mixed species and/or varieties that spread flowering times and risks.

• Rotational impacts on frost, particularly the effects of rotations on stubble load, temperature and frost incidence.

• Sowing time – considering the trade-off between heat and frost stresses.

• Other novel approaches, such as using bactericidal copper zinc oxide, including testing of ice nucleating bacteria through the collection of samples sent to the Department for Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Further investigations will also be undertaken into the impact of soil amelioration on the incidence of frost through ongoing monitoring of existing ameliorated sites on the Eyre Peninsula.

This builds on AIR EP’s earlier collaborative project with EPAG Research across two trial sites at Tooligie Hill.

Early results from those trials show that soil amelioration could reduce daily canopy temperature fluctuations and keep crops and soils up to a few degrees warmer during the coldest part of the night.

“The early results of that project were particularly encouraging, and we’re excited to investigate this in more detail to see if we can develop some workable strategies using soil amelioration to reduce frost impacts on the EP,” Ms Scholz said.

A field day is planned at Tooligie Hill for 2 October, 2024 for farmers wanting to learn more about the trials and their results. More details will be provided closer to the date.

For more information about AIR EP and its research projects and events, visit

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