Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Honours research digs into deep sown wheat

Deep sowing helps grain growers chase extra moisture in a dry year but get it wrong and you risk poor establishment.

Jordan Bathgate inspecting newly planted trials at the AGT siteCharles Sturt University Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) student Jordan Bathgate is examining the value of two traits, seedling vigour and coleoptile length, for deep sowing wheat crops.

His research is supported by a Graham Centre Honours scholarship and involves 120 different lines of wheat.

“The coleoptile is the pointed protective sheath that encases the emerging shoot as it grows from the seed to the soil surface,” Mr Bathgate said.

“It’s recommended that for a wheat crop to emerge successfully from the soil, the seed should never be planted deeper than the coleoptile length.

“My research, using a pool of breeding wheat including traditional varieties and lines that haven’t been commercially released, is examining the relationship between seedling vigour and coleoptile length. The focus is on the role these traits have regarding seedling performance from deep sowing.

“It’s hoped the results will assist plant breeders and ultimately help growers make informed sowing decisions.”

Like many of us Mr Bathgate’s had to adjust his work arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, in this case carrying on with part of his research at home.

“I was able to complete my controlled environment pot trials, and since COVID-19 movement restrictions were introduced, I’ve been working from home to evaluate the coleoptile length of the seedlings,” Mr Bathgate said.

“Now with restrictions beginning to ease, the next phase of the research has begun, which includes field trials of selected lines to determine seed establishment rates and the impact of plant vigour and coleoptile length in deep sown treatments.”

The research is supervised by Dr Sergio Moroni (Charles Sturt) and Dr Felicity Harris (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and is a collaboration with Dr Russell Eastwood (Australian Grain Technologies) and Dr Greg Rebetzke (CSIRO).


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