May 2018 Update

May 2018 Update

2018 GRDC Updates, OFT on your website, technical updates, new research trials on OFT, GRDC program spotlight, seasonal topics, invitation to share spreadsheets used for managing trial data and information, OFT team, and connect with OFT

Welcome to the May update for the Online Farm Trials (OFT) project from the team at the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia.

2018 GRDC Updates

The 2018 GRDC Updates were a huge success with a large number of attendees at locations across the three GRDC regions. These annual updates are designed to deliver cutting edge research, development and extension information to grain growers and their advisers. They focus on communicating the most relevant and current research, building awareness and knowledge of key grains production and management issues and the best current applicable solutions.

The OFT team attended updates in Wagga Wagga, Adelaide, Perth, Bendigo and Goondiwindi where we hosted the Federation University Australia/Online Farm Trials display. We provided training at the Update events to help users with their search queries, and with managing and sharing trial data and information on OFT including data entry and upload.

GRDC Updates

Professor David Lamb, University of New England, searching over 2,600 grains trials available on OFT for the GRDC Southern Region (GRDC Research Updates, Goondiwindi).

If you missed us at the updates and are interested in discussing training options for you organisation, including remote training using Zoom, please contact us at

OFT on your website

An embeddable version of the Trial Explorer, or widget, is available for use on organisational websites.

OFT Widget

Research organisations, grower groups or other grains industry stakeholders can provide access to their trial project information to visitors of their website, as well as over 4500 trials from 60 contributors across Australia. The widget can also be customised to integrate with the look and functionality of your website.

To get access to the widget, go to If you require assistance with embedding the widget on your website or would like additional information, please contact the OFT team at

Technical updates

The underlying search functionality behind OFT has been upgraded. The new technology is much faster and makes use of advanced language processing to significantly increase the relevancy of results. Other features include typo-tolerance, synonym-matching and closer integration with the mapping interface (geosearch). Your feedback on the new search is welcome, particularly regarding the relevancy of results or specific examples of where it could be improved. The new search engine provides us with greater flexibility to adjust and refine the results presented based on user feedback. Please provide any comments or suggestions through the OFT feedback form.

A new OFT website also goes live today. In addition to the streamlined search for trials, the new website interface is more intuitive and includes seasonally relevant collections of trials. Visit to begin searching and sharing trials on the new website.

New research trials on OFT

Additional trial results have recently been published, with over 4500 trials from 60 contributors now hosted on OFT.

Based in the West Australian Wheatbelt, Liebe Group has added new trials to OFT, with more than 500 trial projects from 2002 to 2017 now available for public viewing and data export. Newly published trials include: Timing of nitrogen for canola grown in the lower rainfall areas of Western Australia’, ‘Deep incorporation of lime into acidic subsoils’, ‘Soil management strategies for improving pH on red loam’, and ‘Understanding the importance of N, P, K & S interactions in wheat cropping systems. The trial projects include exportable results data on a variety of metrics including grain yield, gross return, protein and screenings. A big thank you to Danielle Hipwell, Administration and Communications Officer of Liebe Group, for her assistance in publishing these trials on OFT.

The OFT team has also recently worked with Northern Grower Alliance (NGA), located in Toowoomba, QLD, to publish trial projects from within the Northern GRDC region. Trial projects include topics such as soil remediation and plant growth regulators in barley. The OFT team thanks NGA Communications Manager, Rachel Norton, and Denielle Kilby, Trials Agronomist, for their support and assistance in publishing these trials. There are now 369 trial projects published by NGA spanning seven years of research trials – what a great information resource.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) has also published 15 new trials projects on OFT from 2014 to 2016 on managing micronutrient deficiencies in cropping systems at various trial locations in South Australia. Many thanks to SARDI Research Officer, Sjaan Davey, for publishing these trials and for contributing to the OFT project. We hope further trials conducted by SARDI will be added to this list in the near future.


GRDC program spotlight

Initiated in 2014, the five year GRDC-funded program, Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubble, aims to produce guidelines and recommendations that assist growers and advisers to consistently retain stubbles profitably across a range of environments in southern Australia.

Although the program runs through 2018, OFT contains over 130 trial projects to date from farming systems groups and research organisations involved in the GRDC Stubble Initiative, including: Birchip Cropping Group; CSIRO; Central West Farming Systems; Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation; Irrigated Cropping Council; Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association; Mallee Sustainable Farming; Riverine Plains; SARDI; and, Upper North Farming Systems. To access this great resource, visit this page on Online Farm Trials.

GRDC Stubble

                                                                                                               Photo: © GRDC


Seasonal topics

Crop competition strategies for weed management:

In today’s farming systems, weeds are controlled largely by the application of herbicides. Heavy reliance on chemicals, however, has led to issues of herbicide resistance. New trials data and information is available that provides alternative strategies to reduce weeds in crop, including integrated weed management of where crop competition can play an important role. OFT contains over 30 trials on weed control by increasing crop competition. To access these trials, visit this page on Online Farm Trials.

For further details on benefits of integrated weed management systems, go to:

Crop Competition strategies for weed management


Nitrogen use efficiency:

Reductions in nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) are determined by a number of factors, including N leaching, losses of N from the soil as gas and crop diseases. Given the current seasonal conditions, how can nitrogen inputs be optimised for the 2018 growing season? There are nearly 50 trials in OFT that contain results on NUE and address a number of topics, including soil water interactions, N source and placement, topdressing and soil-specific N strategies. To access these trials, visit this page on Online Farm Trials.

GRDC spreading

                                                                              Photo: Nicole Baxter/ © GRDC

For further information on improving NUE, go to:


Invitation to share spreadsheets used for managing trial data and information

The OFT team is continually developing and refining tools, features and functionality to foster greater data entry efficiencies.

Does your organisation use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage trial data and information? Would you be happy to share your spreadsheet so we can examine and compare data management practices across organisations and make further improvements to the OFT trial import?

By introducing additional automation and analysis processes we hope to save you time, reduce manual data handling and support a more seamless publication of trial data into OFT.   

Your contribution would be highly valued. To share your MS Excel spreadsheets, please send them via email:

OFT Team

Dr Nathan Robinson is a Senior Research Fellow (Soil Science) with CeRDI.

His role within the OFT Team includes engaging with the grains research community to support pilots focused on active trial management. He is also developing a framework for interpretation of trial data relevance for a series of key parameters to inform users of trial data quality and limitations.

Nathan joined CeRDI after working in soil and landscape analysis for 18 years in the Victorian government. There he led numerous land resource assessment projects in Victoria for the Corangamite, Wimmera and Goulburn Broken CMA regions. In 2009, Nathan led a state initiative on improving soil health and understanding the impacts of farming systems on soil condition. This included managing the Victorian network of Long Term Agro-ecological Experiments (LTAEs - More recently Nathan has been a lead researcher in the use of proximal sensors and rapid sensing techniques in the assessment of soil properties and links to crop yield.

Nathan completed his PhD at Federation University in 2016 with his research focused around digital soil mapping “Assessing productive soil-landscapes in Victoria using digital soil mapping”. He received the prestigious 2017 CG Stephens award from Soil Science Australia. The award is granted to the best PhD for soil science across Australia.

Nathan is also contributing to FedUni’s engagement in the Soils CRC by exploring how sensor platforms can be used to map and measure soil properties linked to plant production and how collated soil data (including soil test data collected by farmers) can be integrated, leading to supporting farmers achieve profitable and sustainable outcomes on-farm and for the environment.

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We look forward to providing further updates on OFT activities in the coming months.
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Kind regards from the OFT team.


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