Improving post-rainy sorghum varieties to meet the growing grain and fodder demand in India

Project Leader
Dr Vincent Vadez
Email
v.vadez@cgiar.org
Fax
91 40 30713074
Phone
91 40 30713463
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
CIM/2007/120
Start Date
01/07/2008
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
CR-202211-42577
Project Type
Multilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
31/07/2013
Extension Start Date
01/08/2013
Commissioned Organisation: 
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, India
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, India
Extension Finish Date
31/07/2018
Overview Collaborators
  • International Livestock Research Institute, India
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Directorate of Sorghum Research, India
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Eric Huttner
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The project was approved late July 2008 and activities have started as expected for the postrainy season 2008-09. We could not have a meeting with all project partners before the start of the season. However, we had a couple of strategic meeting with partners based in India (ICRISAT, NRCS, ILRI), in early September to ensure that planned activities for the Rabi season would proceed as planned in the project proposal. Essentially, we met to decide on locations and material to include in testing.
Field activities have been performed as planned. Details are described in the different project activities below. The kick-off meeting with all partners of the project has been held between 23-25 March 2009 at ICRISAT. This meeting was originally planned for January but was postponed because of the aftermath of the Bombay events. Minutes and program of the meeting have been circulated and are available upon request.
The project is well on track. Detailed analysis of data gathered so far and only recently collected needs to be further pursued. The use of the lysimetric system to assess pre-post anthesis water use, a key component of information that this project aims to produce, appears to fulfil really well the expectations and thorough analysis of data now needs to be done. Excerpts of these analyses and progresses made thus far are provided in what follows.
Activity 1.1. Complete the marker-assisted backcross development of single/multiple stay-green QTL (stgA, stgB, stg1, stg2, stg3, stg4) NILs in elite parents including sweet sorghum S35.
These materials were advanced prior to the 2008-09 trial and seeds were multiplied and dispatched to NRCS for multilocation trials reported below (Activity 1.3)
Activity 1.2. Test single/multiple stay-green QTL for stay-green expression in the field and grain/stover yield/quality at Patancheru under terminal drought conditions.
The single and multiple stay-green QTL introgression lines in two different genetic backgrounds (R16 and S35) were evaluated in two moisture regimes (irrigated and stress) during postrainy season of year 2008-2009 at two sites in India, Patancheru and Tandur . The stay-green QTL isolines in R16 genetic background were evaluated in a replicated 42-entry (including parents and checks) trial in an alpha-design with 4-row plots (of 6m length). The stay-green QTL isolines in S35 genetic background were accommodated in a replicated 56-entry trial with a field design similar to R16 genetic background trial. The trials were sown during second week of October 2008. The observations on Green Leaf Area (starting from 2 weeks before flowering till maturity) and other related traits on agronomic performance of these QTL isolines were recorded. The whole plant straw samples were harvested on plot basis, and grinding of these samples will be completed by second week of June 2009, for stover fodder quality traits. On the basis of results from this trial, best single QTL isolines in both genetic backgrounds will be identified for development of double QTL introgression lines.
Activity 1.3. Test selected single/multiple QTL isolines in multi-location trials of India
These test were performed at several locations by NRCS. During Rabi season (October-April 2009), two sets of material, 42 lines of R 16 based and 56 lines of S35 based genetic background stay green QTL introgression lines were evaluated for postflowering drought tolerance. The trials were conducted at three locations, Tandur (Andhra Pradesh), Rahuri (Maharashtra) and Bijapur (Karnataka) in 6x7 (R16 based genetic material) and 7x8 (S35 based genetic material) alpha designs with three replications. The sowing was done on Oct 3, Oct 17 and Oct 27, 2008 at Tandur, Bijapur and Rahuri, respectively. Two water regimes were imposed by withholding the irrigation during the post flowering period. Unfortunately, the trials conducted at Rahiri and Bijapur were abandoned before flowering due to severe shoot fly attack due to late sowing. Excess rains during first weak of October resulted in the flooding of fields, which did not allow us to prepare the field for sowing in time.
At Tandur, trial on the evaluation of S35 based genetic material was successfully conducted and the required data set were recorded. Following observations were recorded.
Plant stand
Days to 50% percent flowering and grain physiological maturity,
Plant height at Flowering and physiological maturity
Green leaf area estimation of top six leaves from flowering onward
Panicle number and dry weight,
Stover and grain dry weight
100-grain mass
Stover Quality parameters- stover samples for quality analysis was handed over to ILRI.
As data analysis is yet to be completed, the results from this trial will be reported in the next report.
Activity 2.1. Model analysis of increased WUE (pre/post anthesis water use) stay-green under different climatic scenarios for both Australia and post-rainy season India
Soil depth measurements have been taken to feed into APSIM. The work on APSIM will fully start once the post doctoral fellow is recruited, which should take place towards the beginning of Year 2 of the project.
Activity 2.2. Assess variation for WUE/WU in the GCP-genotyped sorghum reference collection and in single/multiple stay-green QTL isolines from 1.1.
This work was carried out at ICRISAT
Evaluation of the full reference collection of sorghum for transpiration efficiency under well-watered and water-stressed conditions, and for the rate of water loss per unit of leaf area
We assessed all the accessions (375 + 3 controls) of the reference collection for transpiration efficiency (TE). The trial was planted on October 27th and the TE experiment was carried out between 8 and 27th December 2008. Plants were grown in large pots (11” diameters, containing 11 kg of Alfisol). Four seeds were planted in each pot, later on thinned to one seedling per pot at 2 weeks after sowing. Twelve plants (pots) were grown for each entry. Plants were grown under fully irrigated conditions until 6 weeks after sowing. At that stage, 4 replicated plants per genotype were harvested to evaluate plant biomass before imposing the treatment in the other 8 plants, which were used for the stress (water stress, WS) and control treatment (well-watered, WW), that is 4 replicated plants for each treatment. For that, the remaining plants were saturated with water. Since there were 378 entries in the trial, only one replication within each treatment could be handled per day and therefore the treatment imposition was staggered over 4 days. On each day, one replication within each treatment (WS and WW) were saturated with water, bagged with plastic bag around the stem the following morning, and weighed immediately after. Bagging prevented soil evaporation. Same procedure was followed for the 3 other replications. The procedure for each of the treatment was as follows:
1. Drought stress set: WS plants were exposed to progressive water stress by letting plant loose no more than 150 g per day during the first 4 days after imposing stress, no more than 100 g per day in the following 4 days, and no more than 75 g per days during the rest of the experiment. Since pots were weighed every 4 days only, this corresponded to a maximum water loss of 600 g over 4 days, 400 g in the subsequent 4 days, and then 300 g for any 4 days interval in the rest of the experiment.
2. Well-watered set: WW plants were maintained well-watered by re-adjusting pot weight close to field capacity on those days when the pots were weighed (every 4 days), and by adding water two days after weighing to bring back pots close to field capacity, based on transpiration data (from previous weighing intervals).
All plants were harvested when the transpiration of the drought set fell below 10% of the transpiration of the well-watered set. Harvest and transpiration data have been performed but data entry has still to be completed and should be reported during our next meeting.
Evaluation of a portion of the reference set (with relatively similar flowering time during Rabi) and selected stay-green QTL introgression lines for water uptake under stressed conditions in lysimeters (2.0-m long and 25-cm diameter tubes), and for the proportion of water used prior/after anthesis
A set of 210 entries, including 152 accessions from the reference collection + 58 marker-aided stay-green QTL introgressed lines in the background of S35 and R16 were assessed in large and long PVC cylinders (2.0 m long and 25 cm diameter), mimicking roughly the soil volume that sorghum plants would have at usual field planting densities. The trial has been sown on 20th Oct 08. Re-saturation of the soil profile was performed between Nov 13 and 15th, by adding 3 liters of water to each cylinder to ensure that all lysimeters were saturated at the time of imposing the stress. Immediately, after saturation, polyethylene bead were applied to the soil surface to prevent soil evaporation, at a rate of 600 mL, giving a layer of approximately 1.2 cm, sufficient to limit soil evaporation by about 80%. First weighing of the cylinders was taken on 19-20-21-22 November 08. In each case, one full pit was taken, corresponding to one and half replications in each of the treatment (these are 630 cylinders, which is the maximum that can be weighed accurately in a single day). Subsequently, weighing was done following the same sequence, so that the interval between weighing was the same for all treatments and replications. Two treatments were applied: a water stress treatment and a fully irrigated control. Procedure for each of these treatment was as follows:
1. Water stress treatment: No water was added from the time of saturation, i.e. 15th Nov 08, except 1000 mL applied during grain filling on each of 02nd and 09th Jan 09. A total of five weighing were taken for the water stress treatment, i.e. 21-22 Nov, 5-6 Dec, 19-20 Dec, 7-8 Jan, 19-20. Plants were physiologically mature at the time of the last weighing and thus were harvested soon after weighing. Plant parts were separated in leaf, stem, panicle and grain weights.
The data showed a range of variation in water extraction between 10193 g plant-1 to 15260 g plant-1, i.e. about 50% variation in water extraction between the highest and lowest water “extracters”.
One of the hypothesis of the project is that staygreen could be a consequence of differences in the pattern of water use, with staygreen material likely to be those using a relatively lower proportion of water during the pre-anthesis period, to favor more water availability for grain filling. We found a clear negative relationship across the 210 entries, between the amount of water taken before anthesis and that taken after anthesis, showing that genotypes taking up more water before anthesis took up less water after anthesis. How this relates to grain yield still needs to be analyzed.
The PVC experiment gave also the opportunity to assess TE across a fairly large range of genotypes, over a long period of time (from 4 weeks after sowing until maturity). TE value varied between 2.44 g kg-1 water transpired to 6.09 g kg-1 water transpired, and so showed a very large range of variation. A detailed analysis is need to investigate how differences in TE relate to the presence or absence of certain staygreen QTL. In short, in S35 background, few staygreen QTL introgression lines had TE above S35. Introgression lines with Stg 3, Stg4 or Stg B had all fairly high TE equal or superior to S35. In R16 background, most Stg B, and Stg3 and few Stg4 introgression lines had high TE, equal or superior to R16. In any case, there were entries from the sorghum reference collection with TE higher that the highest of the staygreen trial entries.
2. Well-watered treatment: Six cylinder weighing have been done on: 19-20 Nov 08, 3-4 Dec 08, 17-18 Dec 08, 5-6 Jan 09, 21-22 Jan 09, and 2-3 February. Plants were harvested soon after the last weighing. For genotypes maturing earlier, the head had been harvested before to avoid grain losses. However, all the stover biomass was harvested at same time. Analysis of the water extracted has been done until after the final weighing of the samples.
Total water use under well-watered conditions varied between about 10.5 kg to about 42.3 kg of water per plants from 4 weeks after sowing until maturity. The highest and lowest water users under well-watered conditions are reported below. Biomass and grain data have been performed and reveal a large range of variation. As for the DS treatment, the trial was an opportunity to assess TE over a long period of time (from 4 weeks after sowing until maturity) in a large set of entries. There also, the very interesting thing is that data revealed also a good range of variation in TE. Thorough data analysis is still needed and is planned for the next meeting in Australia during the National Conference on Sorghum (7-8 August 2009).
Activity 2.3. Conduct an ex-ante analysis of the economic benefits (increase in grain/fodder quantity/quality) of incorporating stay-green and/or improved pre/post anthesis water uses/WUE traits in existing sorghum varieties in Australia and post rainy season India
Monthly sorghum stover sampling from six sorghum stover traders in Hyderabad was taken up November 2008 to provide new baseline data for stover quality - price relationships. From November 08 to March 09, the average price per kg dry stover was 12.7 cents. For comparison from November 2004 to March 2005 the average stover price was 6.7 cents.

The project is fully underway. For the second postrainy season of the project, the trials in ICRISAT and at the partner locations were carried out almost rain-free, which allowed an excellent expression of the stay-green phenotype and an excellent discrimination of the stay-green introgression lines. From the six different QTL that have been introgressed from donor parent B35, it is fairly evident that StgA, StgB and Stg3 all contribute to a clear expression of the stay-green phenotype and some of the lines contribute to enhanced seed yield and biomass under terminal drought.

Interestingly, the 2009-10 season confirms the value of several StgA, StgB and Stg3 introgression lines across locations on trials at the partner’s stations. Due to this excellent proof of concept of the value of several stay-green QTL, discussions during the most recent planning meeting centered on: (i) developing a di-allele scheme to combine beneficial QTLs; and (ii) choosing six popular varieties from Rabi sorghum (North Karnataka, West Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra) to initiate the introgression of beneficial QTLs into these varieties.

The lysimetric facility used to evaluate a number of traits related to plant water use and water extraction has revealed a wealth of variation in the germplasm for transpiration efficiency (over 50% range of variation) and a range of variation for water extraction from 12 to 15 litres per plant. This provides new sources of variation for critical traits that can be fed into breeding programs. Interestingly, certain stay-green QTL enhance either transpiration efficiency or water extraction, although this depends on the genetic background where they are introgressed. For instance, Stg1 and Stg2 enhance water uptake in an S35 background (which has limited capacity to extract water), while there is no QTL that improves water extraction in an R16 background, which is already endowed with high water extraction capacity. Therefore, stay-green QTL can be dissected for the different traits they control at the gene level. However, a prior knowledge of these traits in target cultivars for introgression is critical.

The postdoctoral fellow has been recruited and is at present undertaking training in APSIM in Queensland, Australia. Initial work will consist of mapping yields across Rabi sorghum states in India and extrapolating soil conditions prevailing at each test site. This mapping will then be used to test the effects of specific QTL on yield across a range of locations.

The project is still in full swing. For the third post-rainy season of the project, trials have been repeated at ICRISAT and at three partner locations during 2010-11, using a subset of the most promising entries tested in the 2009-10 season, i.e. 18 entries in S35 and 18 entries in R16 backgrounds. Harvest of the trials has been completed and fodder quality assessment is in progress. These same entries have also been tested in the lysimetric system to evaluate precisely the pattern of water extraction and its relation to yield and leaf development parameters. Some of these entries have also been tested in pot studies in a controlled environment facility to evaluate traits related to the plant’s control of water use under well-watered and water stressed conditions. The introgression of stay-green QTLs into six popular varieties from the Rabi sorghum main track (North Karnataka, western Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra) is in progress. Characterization of the Rabi sorghum environment has been done to elicit the type of stress that is most common in order to better target the choice of traits needed for adaptation. This has involved the collection of climatic data from Rabi sorghum districts and productivity data from these same districts, as well a thorough APSIM simulation. In a nutshell, Rabi sorghum primarily undergoes flowering and post-flowering terminal drought, which is fully in line with the project’s objectives. Efforts have been made and are still on-going in Year 3 to deliver publications, with one paper accepted in Functional Plant Biology, and one paper currently under review (Crop and Pasture Science). A meeting has also recently been held to discuss other potential publications in view of the value of the data collected since the beginning of the project. We have agreed to have one manuscript prepared to report the result of the 44 introgression line entries (+ checks) in the S35 background and one from the 31 introgression line entries (+ checks) in the R16 background, across the DSR and ICRISAT locations using data for the period 2009-10. This manuscript will be drafted by Dr HS Talwar, Principal Scientist at DSR. A second manuscript will report the detailed yield trials carried out at ICRISAT and will relate expression of the stay-green phenotype and its relationship with yield, using the 2009-10 data and possibly the 2008-09 data for the S35 background. This manuscript will be drafted by Dr Santosh Deshpande, and will report, in particular, the clear expression of the stay-green phenotype in StgA, StgB and Stg3 introgression lines. A third manuscript, headed by Dr Michael Blummel, will report on the assessment of fodder quality data in different locations and under different water regimes at each location. An ex-ante assessment of the value of introgression of stay-green QTLs has been executed and a fourth manuscript is coming up. A meeting was held in Queensland in April 2011 to update project partners on progress. We have also discussed the possibility of a Phase 2 for this project, capitalizing on the great progress achieved in Phase 1. An outline of the ideas that have been exchanged will be sent to the ACIAR program manager as the basis for an initial dialogue.

The project is now completed. A no-cost extension has been granted in order to carry out a workshop to disseminate the findings of the project. This workshop was initially planned for the last semester of Year 4. However, while the project has, on the whole, achieved excellent outputs, the experimental data from Year 4 could not be fully analysed by the time of the workshop. Therefore, it was proposed to have the workshop just after the end of the project. The purpose of the workshop will now go beyond the scope of the current project and will be open to a much larger community of sorghum scientists, especially with a view to linking project activities to the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals (CRP 3.6), and also as a basis for drafting a proposal for a potential second phase to this project.
In Year 4, postrainy trials were repeated to assess the most promising introgression lines from Year 1 and 2, i.e., 12 entries in S35 and 13 entries in R16 background, which were also tested in Year 3, plus parental lines and checks. These were tested at ICRISAT and at three partner locations in 2011-12. Again, very promising introgression lines were identified, and some confirmed the previous year’s assessment, both for grain yield and for stover yield. The capacity to positively alter both grain yield and fodder is very important as both components now share almost an equal importance in the sorghum value chain. Harvest of the trials has been completed and fodder quality assessment is underway. The testing of these same entries has also been repeated in the lysimetric system to evaluate precisely the pattern of water extraction and its relation with yield, as well as leaf development parameters. Several dry-down experiments in the glasshouse to assess specific water saving traits have also been performed in some of these lines under well-watered and water-stressed conditions. A few traits appear to clearly distinguish staygreen introgression material, e.g., the capacity to develop smaller leaf area and the capacity to restrict transpiration under high VPD conditions. The introgression of stay-green QTLs into six popular varieties from the postrainy (Rabi) season sorghum main areas (North Karnataka, West Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra) is now at the BC1F1 stage. We have also fingerprinted the staygreen introgression lines, in R16 and S35 backgrounds, with Diversity Array Technology (DArT) markers. This had helped to saturate the staygreen QTL regions, and also helped to assess the recurrent parent recovery. In all, we have data on 669 DArT clones with known physical position on the sorghum physical map for all staygreen introgression lines. A publication is under review in Field Crops Research related to the characterization of the postrainy season sorghum environments that segregates these environments into sub-areas characterized by different stress types. The results clearly shows that the postrainy season sorghum area (about 5 M ha) should not be taken as a single block, but as sub-blocks characterized by different stress patterns, therefore requiring specific breeding for precise drought-adaptive traits. Using APSIM and based on the finding of traits discriminating staygreen introgression lines from recurrent parents, crops simulation modelling efforts have been made to test the effect of several water saving traits (those identified from physiological studies), one of them having an important effect, especially under harsh conditions. The publications that were mentioned in the previous report are progressing well. A review article will be forthcoming in a CABI book in 2013. Furthermore, there is a plan for additional papers on the lysimetric assessments and the trait-based assessments of introgression lines and germplasm, to capitalize on the most important physiological traits that are affected by staygreen introgression. This should give the basis for evolving from the use of staygreen QTL in breeding to the use of specific, well-characterized mechanisms. Our current target is to have these papers prepared for the workshop, which is set for 19-21 February 2013.
Activity 1.1. Complete the marker-assisted backcross development of single/multiple stay-green QTL (StgA, StgB, Stg1, Stg2, Stg3, Stg4) NILs in elite parents including sweet sorghum S35
This activity was completed at the end of Year1. The most promising of these are now being used in the diallele crossing program, whose purpose is to pyramid together several staygreen QTLs.
Activity 1.2. Test single/multiple staygreen QTL for staygreen expression in the field and grain/stover yield/quality at Patancheru under terminal drought conditions
A trial including a subset of the most promising entries from the 2009-10 season, i.e. 18 entries in S35 and 18 entries in R16 background, which had been tested in 2010-11, has been conducted. Harvest of the trials has been completed and fodder quality assessment is in progress. The stress level this year was mild (about 20% reduction in grain yield in both backgrounds), which was explained by cultivation in a fairly deep soil and a slightly later imposition of stress than in the previous year. However, in both backgrounds there were again several introgression lines with performance superior to the recurrent background (e.g. S35SG06014, a Stg3 introgression in S35 background, K359W, K369, K382, K456 in R16 background). We are now running a complete analysis of these data using the two years in which this same set was evaluated.
There was also substantial variation in the stover biomass in this repeated trial, although the reduction in stover biomass under terminal water stress was about 30% in the S35 background sub-trial (stover yield reduction higher than grain yield reduction), but only about 20% in the R16 background sub-trial (same reduction than for grain yield). In S35 background, introgression lines S35SG06026, S35SG06028, S35SG06038, S35SG06014, S35SG06001 had stover yield significantly higher than recurrent parent (30-60%). In R16 background, the same introgression lines having yield superior to R16 (K359W, K369, K382, K456) also had higher stover yield under terminal water stress (10-20%). Given the importance of stover in the sorghum value chain, these results indicated that gains can be made from both the improvement of grain and stover yield. The fact that several introgression lines in the two backgrounds are “double winners” is very encouraging and confirms results from the earlier years. The increase in stover biomass in the S35 background was also very substantial (over 30%).
To deepen the understanding of the putative mechanisms of stover/grain yield drought adaptation (undoubtedly impacting their quality), the leaf area (LA) developmental characteristics were assessed in 20 genotypes (10 each from R16 and S35 backgrounds; out of that in 6 genotypes detailed leaf observations allowing their model parameterization were gathered) under well-watered (WW) and water-stressed (WS) regimes in 2011-2012 field experiment. We also gathered further evidence of genotypic differences in the LA developmental patterns under WW and additional genotypic plasticity under WS. Under WW several genotypes developed smaller LA (6028, 6038, 6040 [S35 background]); K606 (R16 background), while others had larger LA (extreme case 6026 [S35 background]) compared to their respective senescent parents. We found the genotypes further differed in their reaction to WS in terms of LA development - some genotypes we found clearly restrict leaves growth upon drought exposure (K359 white [R16 background], 6026, 6008, 7001 [S35 background]) while others did not (both senescent parents - R16, S35). Very similar patterns were found in detailed LA study in lysimetric system and, moreover, there the total LA developed under WS related strongly (negatively) to plant’s grain yield, indicating clearly that, under these conditions of stress, developing a smaller leaf area was beneficial for yield under fairly severe terminal stress.
The available range of LA identified across the different introgression lines, leading to a wide range of plant water usage, therefore provides us an arsenal of plant material that have potentially the promise to be specifically adapted across a fairly broad spectrum of environmental conditions. This is intended to be further used for precision breeding purposes - i.e. matching particular developmental pattern with given agro-ecosystem (this will be tested with model; Activity 2.1.)
Stover quality data from the 2011-12 trial have been generated and data are being analysed. Current efforts are focusing on the publication of the data from the initial two years. In short, there appears to be no trade-off between fodder quality and quantity, in both genetic backgrounds, indicating that varietal improvement for fodder quality can be done along with grain and fodder productivity enhancement. This year’s data confirmed significant positive effects of several staygreen QTL on fodder quality traits, and also confirmed that these effects depended on the genetic background (same results were obtained for drought adaptation mechanisms). For instance, there is a significant 2-3 unit increase in in-vitro digestibility due to StgB and StgA introgression in S35 background, but almost no change in any of the staygreen introgression in R16 background. An opposite effect was found for stover nitrogen (another fodder quality trait), with no effect of any staygreen QTL in S35 background, but a significant effect of introgression in several QTL in the R16 background.
Activity 1.3. Test selected single/multiple QTL isolines in multi-location trials of India
The trials have been repeated at three partner locations (Tandur, Bijapur, and Hyderabad) using selected 12 entries in S35 and 13 entries in R16 backgrounds, plus parental lines and checks (18-entries trials in both cases). The trials were sown under stress and non-stress treatments at all three locations. In this season the trials under stress conditions were replicated six times, and three times under non-stress conditions. The trials were carried out almost rain-free at all three locations. All the required observations (phenology, plant height, green leaf area retention at different growth stages during post-flowering growth period and yield components) were recorded at all three locations.
The variations between genotypes and water-treatments were significant for all the yield components (grain yield, stover yield and total dry matter), but interactions between treatments (well-watered and water-stressed) and genotypes (QTLs) were non-significant at all the locations under both genetic backgrounds. On the other hand, variation in genotypes/QTLs differs significantly across locations and their interactions with locations (environments) were also significant under both stress and non-stress environment in both the genetic backgrounds. This implies that same QTL may not work in all locations. Our results confirmed the finding of previous year that GLAR (green leaf area retention at physiological maturity) and yield components were significantly higher for the R16 background. Our phenotypic data clearly indicate that stgB is the key QTL for yield components under water stress in the R16 genetic background and stgA, stgB and stg1 are the key QTLs for yield components under water stress in the S35 genetic background. It seems that the QTL stgB is common in both, hence less interaction with genetic backgrounds. Data clearly indicated about a 10% advantage in grain yield (GY) and total dry matter (TDM) accumulation by staygreen QTLs introgression in R16 background under both WW and WS conditions. On the other hand, about an 8% advantage was recorded in GY and TDM by staygreen QTLs introgression in the S35 background under WS, but no advantage under WW conditions.
Activity 1.4. Saturate key QTL regions on sorghum linkage groups with easily used markers
To saturate the target staygreen QTL regions, all of the ILs evaluated in first two years of the project were fingerprinted using DArT assays. Thirty-eight staygreen ILs in R16-background, and 43 ILs in S35 background, along with parents, were genotyped with standard DArT assay available at Diversity Array Technology Pvt. Ltd. in Australia. A total of 721 DArT clones were scored for staygreen ILs in both R16 and S35 background, and 669 DArT clones for which physical map positions on the sorghum genome is used for further interpretations. For staygreen ILs in R16 background, the range for monomorphic DArT clones was 37-48%, with a maximum of 6% missing data. The range for B35-allele introgression in R16 background ILs is between 0 to 17%; with recurrent parent recovery (for R16 alleles) in the range of 35 to 52%. Similarly, for S35 background ILs, the range of monomorphic DArT clones was 36 to 39%, with maximum of 6% missing data. The B35-allele introgression ranged from 2 to 19%, with recurrent parent recovery for S35 alleles in the range of 42 to 58%. Currently, we are in the process of developing haplotype/allelic distribution map for all of the staygreen ILs, and this DArT data along with polymorphic SSRs will be further utilized to analyse the effects of different introgressions on staygreen expressions.
To further characterize the QTL introgression regions related to different staygreen QTLs at the sequence level, we have submitted all of the ILs genotyped with DArTs to the Institute of Genomic Diversity (IGD) for Genotyping-By-Sequencing (GBS) analysis under a NSF-BREAD project with Ed Buckler’s Laboratory at Cornell University. The data from this GBS analysis will identify SNPs and PAVs (present-absent variations). This data will further help us identify SNPs and candidate genes in the staygreen QTL regions. The SNP data along with field and lysimetry characterization can further be utilized for genomic selection for improved drought tolerance in postrainy season sorghum.
Activity 1.5. Initiate the introgression of key QTLs onto the most widely grown postrainy season season sorghum varieties
The most promising staygreen QTL ILs (both in R16 and S35 background) shortlisted based on both field and lysimetry evaluations were crossed in half-diallel crossing scheme to generate double QTL introgressions. For R16 background, 7 ILs (K359-white, K375, K260, K271, K382, K456 and K369) and 8 ILs in S35 background (S35SG06003, S35SG06028, S35SG07003, S35SG0632, S35SG06014, S35SG06005, S35SG06010 and S35SG06011) were crossed during the postrainy season 2011 and rainy season 2012 to generate F1 seed in diallel scheme to produce 21 and 28 crosses in R16 and S35 backgrounds, respectively. These F1s are being advanced in current rainy season 2012 to generate F2 seed for all combinations. These F2 seed along with their respective staygreen IL parents along with F1s will be field evaluated during the 2012-13 postrainy season to understand gene interactions and genetics of staygreen expression as a function of double QTL introgressions. Resources permitting, we will also try to use some of the remnant seed from selected F2 populations to identify double QTL homozygotes.
Staygreen QTL introgressions in six popular postrainy season sorghum varieties (CSV22, Parbhani Moti, M35-1, Akola Kranti, Parbhani Jyothi, and DSV5) has been initiated. The most successful introgressions in both R16 (K359-stgB, K260-stg3, K271-stg4) and S35 background (S35SG06008-stgA and S35SG06040-stg1) were used as donors for introgression of all the six validated staygreen QTLs. These QTLs are being introgressed into six popular postrainy season varieties, e.g., M 35-1, Parbhani Moti=SPV1411, Phule Vasudha, and CRS1 by marker-assisted backcrossing using 3 to 5 SSRs flanking these QTLs. Currently, the crossing program is at the BC1F1 stage, and with input from the Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR), ICAR, Hyderabad we will add three more genotypes (Phule Yashoda, Parbhani Moti and DSV5) into the backcrossing scheme during the 2012 postrainy season. Currently, we are assessing the polymorphism of additional SSRs in staygreen QTL regions which will help for faster recovery of recurrent parents by BC2 or BC3 generation.
Activity 2.1. Model analysis of increased WUE (pre/post anthesis water use) staygreen under different climatic scenarios for both Australia and postrainy season India
Last year, we reported that the postrainy season sorghum area was, in fact, compounded of several sub-regions characterized by different patterns of drought, from very severe to mild. The paper reporting this analysis is under review in Field Crops Research. This year we have initiated the simulation of trait effects on yield in these different sub-regions. The knowledge of drought stress environments across main postrainy season sorghum tract (Field Crops Research, under review) along with improved understanding of drought tolerance mechanisms (Activity 1.2.) was used to virtually introgress these mechanisms into common postrainy season cultivar (M35-1) and model its effect across these environments. Traits of our main interest were modelled, and out of them two showed promise of improving yield under postrainy conditions in the target zone. These were analysed in detail, i.e., with dynamics of LA development and tissues hydraulic conductivity.
To model the effect of differences in LA development on yield, the APSIM coefficients of LA parameters for M35-1 (TPLA production coefficient and TPLA inflection ratio) were altered. The modification in these parameters used the experimental data gathered in some introgression lines and were then within the magnitude of differences in LA developmental dynamics described between R16 and one of the most successful stg introgression line; K359white (stgB). The APSIM outputs indicated the introgression of mechanism altering the dynamics of leaves expansion rates would improve the grain production in the terminal drought environments in which stress occurs before flowering while there would be production trade-off in the environments with later drought stress onset or stress-free environments.
The evidence of altered tissues’ hydraulic conductivity within sorghum germplasm was gathered (similar to that observed in pearl millet [Kholova et al. 2010]). Further investigations showed that this mechanism appears to be linked to lower root hydraulic conductivity which probably limits leaves’ hydraulic conductivity especially in conditions of high transpiration demand (high VPD; noon hours). This mechanism was also altered in M35-1 APSIM model in two ways - through virtual variation in kl constant (affecting root hydraulics) and maximizing the rates of transpiration (generation of circadian VPD trajectory with imposed limit on transpiration rates when crossing the set VPD threshold). Virtual manipulation of kl benefited the grain production in the most severe pre-flowering terminal drought environments while limited transpiration rates benefitted grain yields across all environments; simulated combination of both these traits, also, resulted in grain yield benefits across all environments.
Detailed dissection of virtual crop growth revealed that yield improvement from the different investigated mechanism came from water saving (few mm) during vegetative growth, which allows its utilization during later crop growth and ultimately result in an extended period of grain-filling. Generated outputs are being worked out into the form of a publication.
Activity 2.2. Assess variation for WUE/WU in the GCP-genotyped sorghum reference collection and in single/multiple stay-green QTL isolines from 1.1
The paper reporting the lysimetric assessment of staygreen introgression lines is now accepted in Functional Plant Biology.
Building on the earlier evaluation of sorghum germplasm, a number of germplasm entries varying for water extraction in previous lysimetric trials have been re-tested (20 entries) and most of them confirmed their higher water extraction capacity. Initial work, inconclusive so far, has been attempted to assess possible root architecture differences in these lines. Another 20 germplasm entries from previous screening, contrasting for TE, have been re-tested in the lysimetric system and the large genotypic contrast for TE has been confirmed. Then a standard dry-down experiment to assess traits related to the control of plant water use has been completed with these lines, which shows that all but one of the germplasm entries with high TE shows an earlier and sharper decline in the rate of transpiration under outdoor conditions and high VPD than the germplasm entries having low TE. Additional work is underway (although not planned earlier) to confirm this important finding (repeat assessment of the VPD response, analysis of plant hydraulics).
Additional experiments have been repeated in the lysimetric system to assess water use efficiency and water extraction under terminal drought in the following set of entries. Among the parents of mapping populations, ICSV745 and PB15881-3 showed good contrast for water use efficiency (higher in ICSV745 and lower by about 2 units in PB15881-3), which opens the possibility to map QTL for TE. The knowledge obtained above on the germplasm contrasting for TE also suggest that these two parental lines contrast for the VPD response mechanisms, which would allow a more focused phenotyping. These two lines also contrasted for the total water extracted (lower in ICSV745 and higher by about 2 units in PB15881-3). The trial, testing popular varieties/landraces adapted to the postrainy season sorghum conditions, showed that overall, the TE level of these lines was relatively low (around 5 g biomass per kg water transpired), except for Parbhani Jyoti which has a slightly higher level. In comparison, many introgression lines in S35 background have TE above 6 g biomass per kg water transpired. In contrast, it seems that the water extraction capacity of postrainy season adapted landraces and varieties is higher than that in S35 background. Therefore, the focus of future crop improvement efforts in the postrainy season materials probably needs to be on water use efficiency.
Fifteen introgression lines in the background of S35 have also been tested under different water treatments in the lysimeters (no water from 3.5 weeks after sowing), normal (last irrigation at 5 weeks after sowing) and mild water stress (last irrigation at 5 weeks after sowing plus 2L of water [equivalent to 40 mm rain] at 10 days after flowering). We have confirmed the superiority of three StgB introgression lines in the trial (S35SG07001, S35SG07002, S35SG06011b) but also one each of Stg1, Stg2, and Stg3. It appears that the yield decrease, especially in recurrent background S35 was explained by decreased grain filling.
Activity 2.3. Conduct an ex-ante analysis of the economic benefits (increase in grain/fodder quantity/quality) of incorporating staygreen and/or improved pre/post anthesis water uses/WUE traits in existing sorghum varieties in Australia and postrainy season India
The ex-ante analysis has been completed toward the end of Year 3. A manuscript is currently being prepared.

This is the summary of the final report for phase 1 of this project, which will be extended for 4 years (2013-2017).
Why the work was done? Post-rainy sorghum is an important commodity for about 5 M households in South India and both grain and stover residues now play an almost equally important role in this value chain, the price of stover being about two-thirds of the price of grain. Moreover stover price is linked to its quality. The main constraint to post-rainy sorghum production is water. The project aimed at genetic solutions to this limitation, looking at the whole value chain of sorghum, to improve both grain/stover productivity and quality.
What was achieved? The results of the project showed that the introgression of stay-green QTLs can improve grain yield, stover yield, and stover quality traits, without having trade-offs between these traits. It showed some exciting synergistic associations between stover productivity and stover quality. Based on this, backcross introgression lines have been initiated in the background of six different Rabi-adapted and farmer-preferred sorghum lines towards the development of varieties containing drought adaptive traits. Prediction of trait effects on yield has been proved possible, which would therefore greatly help to refine the choice of most promising breeding targets.
What impacts has the project had or is it likely to have in the future? The first impact will come from the absence of trade-offs between stover quality attributes and grain/stover productivity, and that breeding for both aspects can be done together. The second impact comes from the proof of concept that stay-green QTL can increase quality and productivity, which gives credit to a biotechnological approach for a complex constraint (drought), an area where successful examples are rare. Third, we have identified germplasm variants for critical traits which will be used in the breeding program. Last, but not least, the predictions on the effects of traits will probably affect how breeding decisions are taken.
What future actions might be required? Recent re-sequencing of introgression lines from the first phase, plus additional knowledge from fine-mapping work on different stay-green QTLs, would provide a fairly precise, if not gene-based, marker for very precise selection of the on-going introgressions. From the first phase, a much better knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the expression of a stay-green phenotype has been gained, namely: (i) improved water extraction; (ii) improved transpiration efficiency (TE), seemingly due to the capacity of high TE genotypes to restrict water losses under high VPD conditions; and (iii) reduced leaf area. However, a key finding is that the effect of stay-green introgression is highly dependent on genetic background, so that the development of stay-green varieties still requires a step of testing to secure the right phenotype. That step anticipates an evolution from using “stay-green QTL” to using QTLs involved in the key underlying mechanisms, and/or combinations of these to optimize production. A very exciting development in the first phase has been the identification of large genetic variation in the germplasm for these underlying traits, beyond levels currently available in stay-green QTL donor parents. In addition, the analysis of weather patterns in the Rabi sorghum area shows a clear clustering of sub-zones with different stress severity patterns. Simulation of the effect of some of the underlying traits predicts both increased yield and increased yield resilience. This calls for specific breeding targets for these different zones, where specific combinations of traits and management practices are needed. The second phase would capitalize on this by using identified germplasm variants for key traits to harness the genetics of these traits and develop promising pre-breeding materials. Backcross nested association mapping (BCNAM) populations in the background of a few Rabi-adapted varieties with varying germplasm appears to be a well fitted, long term approach to sorghum breeding. The use of crop simulation modeling will be expanded to other regions facing similar constraints, to guide the choice of key traits and/or management options. This more strategic part would be aligned to the sorghum-related Product Lines of the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Dryland Cereals, and aims at a global integration of sorghum breeding efforts targeted to water-limited environments, ensuring a better coordination of efforts across regions.

This project in an extension to a previous 4-year phase where the proof-of-concept was established of the value of introgressing staygreen quantitative trait loci (QTL) for improving both the grain and the stover productivity of sorghum during the post-rainy season in India. An important aspect of that work was that several QTLs had a beneficial effect on some stover nutritional quality (for cattle feed), without having trade-offs with grain and stover productivity. This showed the potential to improve different components of the sorghum value chain at the same time. However, the staygreen QTL did not have the same effects in all genetic background where they were introgressed, implying the need to check intermediate introgression products.
The objectives of the second phase are:
1. Develop an application phase in which several staygreen QTL will be introgressed into the most popular cultivars currently used by farmers in the post-rainy sorghum track of India.
2. Expand the work undertaken in the first phase to the West African region with regards to the environmental characterization of stress scenarios, and for the development of new breeding populations - Backcross Nested Association Mapping (BCNAM) populations - involving the most popular cultivars of the postrainy sorghum area of India as recipients and new donors of beneficial traits identified in the first phase.
The second objective is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals (CRP DC)
In objective 1, much of the work has so far focused on refining the QTL interval of critical staygreen QTL. It was initially planned to introgress 6 different staygreen QTLs (Stg1, Stg2, Stg3A, Stg3B, Stg4, StgA (=StgC)), into 6 different genetic backgrounds (M 35-1, Parbhani Moti=SPV1411, Phule Vasudha, CRS1, CRS4, RSLG262). At a meeting held in March 2014 it was decided to concentrate the introgression efforts only to Stg3A and Stg3B QTL (on sorghum chromosome 2, SBI-02), i.e. those QTLs showing the most promising effects in the first phase project. This would allow development of more introgression lines, thereby facilitating background selection. Work has also been carried out to refine the QTL interval for these two critical QTLs, using sequence data from the first phase. Most of the introgression work in the first phase had been accomplished using SSRs and had a large QTL confidence interval (indicating large genomic region) for most of target QTLs. These regions were further saturated by genotyping the introgression lines (ILs) in R16- and S35-genetic backgrounds with additional SSRs and DArT markers. Additionally these ILs were genotyped using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) approach and the target regions were further saturated with SNPs. Utilizing the extensive phenotyping and characterization data generated on the IL sets, we refined the QTL intervals for all of the QTLs except stgC (on SBI-01), which still spans across the centromere). For Stg3a and Stg3b, the interval is refined to 5.6Mbp and 2.2Mbp (genomic regions spanning 56.0 Mbp to 61.6Mpbp and 69.6Mbp to 71.8Mbp), respectively.
Under objective 2, we have started the parameterization of several cultivars adapted to the West and Central Africa (WCA) region, using existing evaluation data. These will be used as reference cultivar for the characterization of stress scenario in the region. The next step was to assemble weather data from a north-south transect in Mali where we expect the weather scenario to vary considerably. We also generated weather data from these locations where observed weather data are available, using Marksim weather generator. Then we compared the APSIM outputs from observed data to APSIM outputs from Marksim-generated weather data. We also initiated the development of new genetic populations - BCNAM populations, using 20 donors identified in the first phase and using the same recipient parents as those used in the introgression of staygreen QTL. During post-rainy season of 2013-14, at least 2 plant - plant crosses were executed between recurrent parents (Parbhani Moti = SPV1411 for Indian post-rainy season adaptation and CSM63E for Southern-Sahelian Zone adaptation) and 20 common set of donor accessions selected on basis of geographic-racial diversity. These were further backcrossed with male-sterile version of recurrent parent (currently at BC1F1-stage for CSM63E and F1-stage for Parbhani Moti=SPV1411). The long term purpose of these populations is two-fold: (i) because they use donors that “contains” traits shown to be the most promising to improve grain and stover productivity in the post-rainy sorghum track, we anticipate to derive improved breeding lines; (ii) we intend to map QTL for these traits, shown to be among the underlying mechanisms of the staygreen trait. Both of these activities in the second objective are also the object of the training of a PhD student from Mali, with the WCA part of the work supported by the USAID project aligned with Dryland Cereals CRP.
An inception meeting was held in March 2014, where representatives of other projects dealing with sorghum improvement under drought were invited. Discussions were held on collaborations and synergies between projects ranging across South-Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa, and West and Central Africa regions.

In the previous phase of this project the proof-of-concept was established of the value of introgressing staygreen (stg) quantitative trait loci (QTL) for improving both the grain and the stover productivity of sorghum during the post-rainy season in India. We established that several QTLs had a beneficial effect on some stover nutritional quality (for cattle feed), without having trade-offs with grain and stover productivity. This showed the potential to improve different components of the sorghum value chain at the same time. However, the staygreen QTLs did not have the same effects in all genetic background where they were introgressed, implying the need to check intermediate introgression products.
The objectives of the second phase are:
1. Apply the findings of the first phase by introgressing two linked staygreen QTLs into the most popular cultivars currently used by farmers in the post-rainy sorghum track of India. This objective is supported by ACIAR.
2. Expand the work undertaken in the first phase in India to the West African region with regards to the environmental characterization of stress scenarios, and for the development of new breeding populations - Backcross Nested Association Mapping (BCNAM) populations. These populations will involve the most popular cultivars of the postrainy sorghum area of India as recipients and new donors of beneficial traits identified in the first phase. This second objective is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals (CRP DC).
In objective 1, we have refined the genetic interval for QTLs stg3A and stg3B: five SNPs for stg3A and 21 SNPs for stg3B are now shortlisted for developing monoplexes KASPar SNP markers assays and these markers will be used for the introgression of these 2 critical QTLs in the different Rabi-adapted backgrounds. The introgression work is in good progress and some introgressions have reached BC2F1 stage. Under this objectives field trials have also been carried out to test the effect of staygreen introgression, nitrogen treatment and plant density on grain and stover yield and on grain and stover quality, the purpose being to better understand GxExM interactions and generate data for model validation.
Under objective 2, we have almost finalized the parameterization of several cultivars adapted to the West and Central Africa (WCA) region, using existing evaluation data. Then we have initiated the characterization of stress scenario in the region. We have also started the trait assessment in a large set of parental lines of many BCNAM populations developed in Mali. Last but not least, we have tested the relevance and suitability of Marksim-generated weather data and these appear to be suitable to simulate changes in genetic and agronomic characteristics, which would allow us to perform simulation in grids of generated weather, without to depend on observed weather data (which is always a limitation).
A meeting was held in April 2015 in Brisbane, to update the group on the project’s progress and this report is a reflection of the discussion and progress reported at that recent meeting. The meeting participants also updated each other of other projects dealing with sorghum improvement, for the sake of continuing a good coordination of efforts.

Annual Report 2016
This project in an extension to a previous 4-year phase where the proof-of-concept was established of the value of introgressing genome segments conferring the capacity to maintain green leaf area under terminal water stress conditions (staygreen quantitative trait loci, QTL) for improving both the grain and the stover productivity of sorghum during the post-rainy season in India. An important aspect of that work was that several QTLs had also a beneficial effect on multiple parameters of the nutritional quality of the crop residue, important for cattle feeding, without having trade-offs with grain and stover productivity. Higher stover quality confers a price premium and also lead to higher milk productivity or weight gain. This work therefore showed the potential to improve different components of the sorghum value chain at the same time. We have also found that the staygreen QTL did not have the same effects in all genetic background where they were introgressed, implying the need to check intermediate introgression products. Finally, a thorough characterization of the stress patterns in the target regions has shown highly variable patterns of stress, requiring specific breeding/agronomic solutions to specific stress scenarii. The second phase is therefore focused on introgressing the staygreen QTL segments into the background of sorghum cultivar adapted to the target region in India, a work that is done in partnership between ICRISAT and IIMR (Indian Institute for Millets Research), and using crop simulation modelling to better target genetic and agronomic management packages for specific stress scenarios. The Objectives of the second phase are:
1. Develop an application phase in which several staygreen QTL will be introgressed into the most popular cultivars currently used by farmers in the post-rainy sorghum track of India. This first Objective is supported by ACIAR.
2. Expand the environmental characterization of stress scenarios to the West African region, and develop new breeding populations - Backcross Nested Association Mapping (BCNAM) populations - involving the most popular cultivars of the postrainy sorghum area of India as recipients and new donors of beneficial traits identified in the first phase. This second Objective is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals (CRP DC).
In Objective 1, much of the work has so far focused on refining the QTL interval for critical QTL. Five SNPs for stg3A and 21 SNPs for stg3B shortlisted for monoplex KASPar SNP assay are used for the introgression of these 2 critical QTLs in the different Rabi-adapted backgrounds. The introgression work is in good progress and some introgressions have reached either BC3F1 or BC4F1 stage. Under this objective field trials have also been carried out to test the effect of staygreen introgression, nitrogen treatment and plant density on grain and stover yield and on grain and stover quality, the purpose being to better understand the Genetic x Environment x Management interactions and generate data to validate the models. As a new project activity, grain nutritional aspects are being investigated, showing here also the beneficial effects of staygreen introgression on grain quality. We have also refined the ex-ante analysis carried out in the first phase by using modelling outputs as an input to the economic analysis, and we are further segregating these outputs into grain and stover productivity advantage of the staygreen introgression to better target farming communities focused on either grain or stover production. As such, we have shown that targeting specific segments of the sorghum value chain (grain or stover) brought higher economic return than using a single technology for the entire region.
Under Objective 2, we have finalized the parameterization of several cultivars adapted to the West and Central Africa (WCA) region, using existing evaluation data. Then we have undertaken the characterization of stress scenario in the region. We have also assessed a large set of parental lines of many BCNAM populations developed in Mali for the capacity to restrict transpiration under high vapor pressure deficit, i.e. a trait that underlies staygreen expression.
No meeting was held in early 2016 given the recent interactions between project participants. Rather, it has been chosen to group the annual meeting with another sorghum project meeting (USAID-Climate Resilient Sorghum Innovation lab) dealing with related issues for the sake of continuing a good coordination of efforts.

So far in this Project we have identified wheat lines from India that have deep roots so as to extract water and thereby increase grain yield. We have also identified wheats from India that establish better when sown in hot soils. Crosses have been made with Australian and Indian wheats and prospects for breeding in Australia and India for wheats that extract more soil water and emerge better are being assessed.
The key achievements, findings and outcomes for this reporting period have been:
1. Refinement and further development of screening procedures for deep roots in the field. In the last report we concluded that despite making major advances in soil coring in the field to detect deep roots the soil variability is too great to develop techniques that can be used in breeding. We are therefore evaluating surrogates for deep roots in field plots. These are rates of leaf senescence, canopy temperature and carbon isotope discrimination of the mature seed. We hoped to evaluate these in this reporting period but the field experiments failed due to excessive wet weather resulting in water-logged fields. However, we were able to develop measurement procedures using a newly developed mobile field phenotyping vehicle recently developed by CSIRO which will be used in field experiments in 2017.
2. Refinement and further development of screening procedures for roots in controlled environments. The root angle of seminal roots arising from the seed has so far been found to be the best surrogate for deep roots in several cereals. A variety of 2D techniques have been developed including gel based and filter paper techniques. In this project we have evaluated a 3D soil based system to screen for deep roots. This method is amenable to screening and to marker based systems.
3. Cathrine Ingvordsen spent 8 weeks in Juelich, Germany with Michelle Watt’s group to evaluate a possible high-throughput non-destructive robotic system to monitor the growth and growth rate of seminal and nodal roots using imaging techniques. Her experimental set up included growing Indian and Australian wheats differing in root system depth and growing them in rhizoboxes varying in soil moisture content.
4. Seed development and multiplication. Seed of two double haploid populations was multiplied in the glasshouse and the field and one of these populationswas planted at Yanco, NSW in 2017. These populations were from crosses between two Indian lines with deep roots and Westonia an Australian line with shallow roots. Additional Indian and Australian lines were also sown at Yanco for validation purposes.
5. Field trials were planted at Yanco and Condobolin NSW in 2016. These were not the Indian x Australia lines but instead other double haploid or recombinant inbred line populations that are known to vary in water extraction by roots (Sundor x Songlen) and/or for water use efficiency (Drysdale x Hartog). Sufficient seed of the Indian x Australian lines was not available. The Condobolin site became water-logged in June and July 2016 and this decimated seed germination and crop establishment. The trial was abandoned. The persistent wet weather in June prevented planting at Yanco until August. This was deemed irrelevant to Australian or Indian conditions and so measurements were not made on these in 2016.
6. To partly compensate for the lack of field work, we evaluated the root depth of a group of old and recent Australian wheats to see if wheat breeding progress in Australia is associated with changes in root depth and distribution. This work was conducted in an experiment on crop phenology conducted by Bonnie Flohr at Temora, NSW. Accordingly, root characteristics of a historic set of wheats released from around 1902 through to 2015 were measured. Results are not yet available.
7. 2m long tubes containing wheat plants were grown outside in Canberra to precisely measure root growth. Soil moisture conditions were designed to imitate conditions in India and parts of Australia with the idea to learn much more about root growth and when most of this growth occurs. This experiment was conducted outside in 2015. Painstaking work was required to wash out the roots from the soil and measure their length using a flat bed scanner. This was completed in this reporting period as time was freed up by not having intensive field experiments in 2016. Although the results have not yet been analysed we have noted that root growth deeper in the profile appears to stop at the time the stems and ears are growing. That is, when the demand for carbon for growth is at its greatest. This is a very novel finding and so the experiment is being repeated in 2017. Accordingly we have set up another series of 2m long tubes which were sown with Indian and Australian wheats in July 2017 with additional treatments to explore this further.
8. Sowings at Indian sites - Pune, Indore and Karnal. About 50 Indian and Australian lines were sown at two times (early) and normal (or timely) at each of these sites. Seed sowings were either normal depth or deep. Results are not yet available
9. Non-destructive field phenotyping using the CSIRO phenomobile will be the most effective method to measure canopy senescence as a surrogate for deep roots at Yanco. A range of devices are mounted on the phenomobile to measure canopy greenness. These use laser and reflectance methods which integrate data from the whole plot. We will also have thermal images of canopies at Yanco that provides information on water uptake by the roots. Training has been undertaken to use the phenomobile and to deal with the comprehensive data sets that will be obtained.

Collaborating Institutions
International Livestock Research Institute, India
University of Queensland, Australia
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Directorate of Sorghum Research, India
Overview Objectives

This project aims to increase the yield and resilience of farmers’ dry season sorghum crop.
In south-west India many farmers grow sorghum during the post-rainy (dry) season, either for subsistence on the grain, but also to sell grain for human consumption or stover residue for cattle feed in markets. Stover has become an important part of the sorghum value chain, and crop improvement now targets dual purpose types. Water limits grain and stover yield. Plants with the stay-green (SG) trait can use soil water later in the dry season. SG has improved sorghum yield under water limited conditions.
This project aims to transfer the SG trait into locally adapted varieties favoured by farmers.

Project Budget
$1,596,315.00
Grant Report Recipient
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
502324
Grant Report Finish Date
31/07/2018
Grant Report Start Date
28/05/2008

Improving soil health in support of sustainable development in the Pacific

Project Leader
Mr Tony Gunua
Email
TonyG@spc.int
Fax
679 3370021
Phone
679 3370733 Ext 35294
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
SMCN/2009/003
Start Date
01/04/2011
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
BR-200701-38928
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
31/03/2015
Extension Start Date
01/04/2015
Commissioned Organisation: 
Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
Extension Finish Date
30/09/2015
Overview Collaborators
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Ministry of Primary Industries, Fiji
  • Ministry of Environment, Lands & Agriculture Development, Kiribati
  • University of the South Pacific, Samoa
  • Tei Tei Taveni (Farmers’ Association), Fiji
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Samoa
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Robert Edis
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Taro is an important crop for Fiji and Samoa, earning important export income as well ensuring food security. In Taveuni, Fiji, there has been a decline in the corm weights of taro in recent years, increasing the amount rejected by exporters. A taro rehabilitation trial was established in 2011 which investigated growth and yield from 8 amendment treatments at 9 locations on the island. The amendments included a nil control, two blends of NPK fertilisers (13:13:21 and 15:15:15), Phoscarb, rock phosphate, lime and a green manure crop Mucuna pruriens with and without Biobrew (a biological fermentation product). From an analysis of the data of the initial rehabilitation trials, future treatments investigating soil related issues to improve taro corm weight needed to focus on increasing soil pH and managing soil-borne pathogens, primarily through the use of a Mucuna fallow. A cost-benefit analysis also provided further support for incorporating a fallow in the taro farming system. From a farmers’ participatory workshop held in Taveuni on 7 March 2012, 4 ‘best-bet’ treatments were selected for further investigation at 4 sites. The treatments involved combinations of Mucuna & lime; Mucuna, lime, rock phosphate & fish manure; Mucuna, 13:13:21 & Biobrew; and Mucuna & a farmer’s choice treatment.
In addition to these treatments, further amendments using composts and biochar will be investigated at Mua Research Station and other sites on the island in collaboration with Tei Tei Taveuni, a farmers’ group committed to biological farming. They have purchased equipment necessary to produce these organic amendments with AusAID support, and trials are being conducted with assistance from Australian Volunteers International.
In Samoa the plans are to recommence taro exports following the release of taro leaf blight resistant cultivars. Two field trial sites were selected on both Upolu and Savai’i, respectively, and 4 treatments were proposed. These included a Mucuna fallow, alley cropping with Erythrina subumbrans, an inorganic fertilizer blend tailored to the crop’s nutrient demands and a control which consists of the current practice of continuous cropping. As on Taveuni, considerable site-to-site variability was encountered in measurements of soil microbial activity, total number of nematodes (bacterivores, fungivores and predators) and, in particular, numbers of plant parasitic nematodes.
Training was also conducted in Fiji, Samoa and Kiribati to develop the capacity of project staff to measure; labile carbon (C), fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and nematode community analysis using the existing facilities at the soil science laboratories at Koronivia Research Station and the University of the South Pacific - Alafua, respectively.
In Kiribati a soil health kit was delivered to staff of MELAD (Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development). The kit was designed to be self sufficient and perform simple, inexpensive measurements of soil parameters; soil temperature, water infiltration, CO2 respiration, bulk density, pH, EC, colorimetric tests for N, P, and K and labile C that would help staff develop more sustainable practices to increase food security and vegetable production. Experiments focussed initially on developing composts from materials available on Tarawa and it was found that a 3 part greens, 1 part brown/dead leaves, and 1 part pig manure that had gone through a proper composting process (regular turning and checking temperature and moisture) for 7 weeks gave the most consistent product. Composts are being tested at 8 trial sites throughout Tarawa. Preliminary data suggests that the fertility and water holding capacity of soils are improved with use of compost.
Training workshops have been conducted in Kiribati for growers about soil health and composting methodology.
In Australia soil health activities have been centred on establishing ground covers on banana soils and developing a “soil health report card” for banana growers. A replicated field trial investigating the use of Japanese millet as a companion crop was established at the Centre for Wet Tropics, South Johnstone. This trial demonstrated that the companion crop did not compete with young banana plants, offered soil protection while the banana crop was being established and increased soil biological activity. A grower demonstration trial was established during the 2011 planting season which is currently being monitored, with more banana growers interested in trying the method in 2012. A visual score card has been developed to allow banana growers to assess the major constraints. This is currently being modified to include information obtained from commercial nutrient tests. Further evaluation and testing of the report card is needed so that it adds value to existing information received by banana growers on managing soil constraints.

Taro is an important crop for Fiji and Samoa, earning significant export income as well as ensuring food security. In Taveuni, Fiji, there has been a decline in the corm weights of taro in recent years, increasing the amount rejected by exporters. Taro rehabilitation trials were established in 2011 and 2012 which investigated growth and yield from ‘best bet’ treatments at sites located throughout the main production areas on the island of Taveuni. Initial trials demonstrated the effect of lime and a Mucuna fallow on lifting taro yield and decreasing losses due to soil-borne pathogens. A cost-benefit analysis, using data collected from farmers in Taveuni, also provided further incentive for incorporating a fallow in the taro farming system.
A second set of trials was designed following a farmer-participatory workshop held in Taveuni on 7 March 2012 and planted in September 2012. Four ‘best-bet’ treatments were selected for further investigation at four sites (Matei, Mua, Voine and Delaivuna). The soil amendment treatments involved the following combinations: A) lime + Mucuna + fertilizer, B) lime + Mucuna + fish emulsion + rock P, C) Mucuna + NPK (13:13:21) + urea (Conventional), and D) Mucuna + a farmer’s choice treatment. Taro was harvest in March 2013 and results demonstrated a relationship between inorganic fertilizer use (treatment C), high EC and increased rots and parasitic nematodes (especially reniform nematode). Conversely treatment B, with the organic fertilizers/amendments, had lower levels of rots and parasitic nematodes. Further work would be required to determine if these relationships were consistent at other sites and in different seasons, but they do demonstrate that management is having an effect on the soil’s biology to an extent that impacts on disease suppression and taro yield.
In addition to these treatments, further amendments using composts and biochar will be investigated at Mua Research Station and other sites on the island in collaboration with Tei Tei Taveuni, a farmers’ group committed to biological farming. They have purchased equipment necessary to produce these organic amendments with AusAID support, made available through this project, and trials are being conducted with assistance from Australian Volunteers International.
In Samoa the plans are to recommence taro exports following the release of taro leaf blight-resistant cultivars. Two field trial sites were selected on both Upolu and Savai’i, respectively, and four treatments were proposed. These included a Mucuna fallow, alley cropping with Erythrina subumbrans, an inorganic fertilizer blend tailored to the crop’s nutrient demands and a control which consists of the current practice of continuous cropping. As on Taveuni, considerable site-to-site variability was encountered in measurements of soil microbial activity, total number of nematodes (bacterivores, fungivores and predators) and, in particular, numbers of plant parasitic nematodes.
In Kiribati the focus of the project is to develop more sustainable practices for vegetable production and to increase food security. Experiments focussed initially on developing composts from materials available on Tarawa and it was found that a mix of 3 parts green material, 1 part brown/dead leaves, and 1 part pig manure that had gone through a proper composting process (regular turning and checking temperature and moisture) for 7 weeks gave the most consistent product. Composts are being tested at 8 trial sites throughout Tarawa. Preliminary data suggest that the fertility and water holding capacity of soils are improved with the use of compost.
Training workshops have been conducted in Kiribati for growers about soil health and composting methods.
In Australia soil health activities have been centred on using ground covers in bananas, as fallow crops and when the crop is established, and developing a “soil health report card”. A replicated field trial investigating the use of Japanese millet as a companion crop was established at the Centre for Wet Tropics, South Johnstone. This trial demonstrated that the companion crop did not compete with young banana plants, offered soil protection while the banana crop was being established and increased soil biological activity. Grower trials in north Queensland have monitored changes in nematode composition and suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes using Brassica fallow crops and have found that there were fewer plant-parasitic nematodes in the soil following the Brassica fallow, as well as a greater number of fungivores and bacterivores.
A visual and quantitative soil health report has been developed to allow banana growers to assess constraints to production. This was modified to include information obtained from commercial nutrient tests. Further evaluation and testing of the report card is needed so that it adds value to existing information received by banana growers on managing soil constraints.

Taro is an important crop for Fiji and Samoa, earning significant export income as well as ensuring food security. In recent years there has been a decline in the corm weights of taro, increasing the amount rejected by exporters. Taro rehabilitation trials have been running since 2011 and have investigated growth and yield from ‘best bet’ treatments at sites located throughout the main production areas on the islands of Taveuni, Fiji, and Upolu, Samoa.
Following a farmer-participatory workshop held in Taveuni in March 2013, a series of ‘best-bet’ treatments were selected for further investigation at four sites (Vunivasa, Matei, Mua, and Soqulu) - an organic treatment consisted of fish manure and rock phosphate, a conventional NPK/urea treatment and a ‘Farmer’s Choice’ that was specific to the site following soil nutrient analysis. To these three treatments, there was also added a Mucuna pruriens fallow and biochar. Although there was considerable site-to-site variation, results demonstrated a relationship between organic treatment and lower incidences of rot and conversely the inorganic fertilizer treatment had higher rots demonstrating that the way the crop is managed is having an effect on the soil’s fertility and biology to an extent that impact on disease suppression and increased taro yield. This builds on previous results where generally a positive effect of lime and Mucuna fallow (where it has established well) has been shown to improve taro yield and decrease losses due to soil-borne pathogens. A cost-benefit analysis, using data collected from farmers in Taveuni, also provided further incentive for incorporating a fallow in the taro farming system. A fourth and final set of ‘best-bet’ trials is planned for the 2014-15 season.
In addition to these treatments, further trials using composts, biochar and other organic amendments are being investigated at other sites on the island in collaboration with Tei Tei Taveuni (TTT) and Australian Volunteers International. Equipment necessary to produce these organic amendments have been made available with AusAID support. The formation of the Lime Taskforce and the establishment of the TTT Resource Centre (RC) have considerably boosted the ability of farmers on Taveuni to obtain information and supplies at affordable prices for more sustainable taro production. This initiative is manifestation of the partnership amongst MPI, TTT, SPC, ACIAR and AusAID. The RC is the latest example of the work TTT has done to remove obstacles for the farmers’ quest towards more healthy/fertile soils.
In Samoa a set of trials was designed to investigate a Mucuna fallow, alley cropping with Erythrina subumbrans, an inorganic fertilizer blend tailored to the crop’s nutrient demands and a control which consists of the current practice of continuous cropping. At the wet site in Salani, corm yield of taro treated with Mucuna fallow crop alone and mucuna fallow crop + 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer proved superior to the farmer’s practice (no fertilizer, management of organic residues from fallow and weed control by slashing, use of herbicides and hoeing). The rest of the treatments gave slightly higher yields relative to the control but the differences were insignificant. At the dry site in Safaatoa, corm yields were consistently lower than at Salani. Mucuna fallow crop alone and Erythrina fallow crop alone did not produce significantly higher corm yields than the farmer’s practice. However, addition of Mucuna + 200 kg NPK/ha and farmer’s practice + 400 kg NPK/ha resulted in the highest yields. The performance of the leguminous Mucuna fallow crops is negatively affected by low rainfall conditions due to lower biomass and nutrient accumulation. Samoa II cultivar consistently outyielded the Samoa I cultivar, both leaf blight resistant cultivars developed through the taro breeding program.
In Kiribati the focus of the project is to develop more sustainable practices for vegetable production and to increase food security. Training workshops have been conducted in Kiribati for growers about soil health and composting methods. Experiments focussed initially on developing composts from materials available on Tarawa and they have been tested at 8 trial sites throughout Tarawa. Fertility and water holding capacity of soils have been improved with the use of compost.
In Australia, a study was initiated in north Queensland where six banana farms were used as paired site comparisons, where bananas re-planted following a Brassica fallow were compared to nearby continuous banana crops. The Brassica fallow significantly reduced the population of burrowing nematode, R. similis, on the roots of bananas compared to continuous banana production. However the use of clean planting material requires refinement to ensure the nematodes are not reintroduced into banana fields.

Burrowing nematode (Radopholus similis) is a major constraint to banana production in north Queensland. An investigation of banana farmers’ fields who used Brassica crops in rotation with banana was instigated to determine if the rotation could suppress burrowing nematode and whether changes in burrowing nematodes were due to “bottom-up” effects from starvation through a non-host or from “top-down” effects due to predation of the nematodes or a combination of both. The change in the soil nematode communities was used as an indicator of the possible changes in top-down suppression of burrowing nematode. Five commercial banana farms were included in the study being sampled at the time bananas were planted after the canola fallow; and again at 8, 15 and 21 months after planting bananas. The nematode community in the bananas following the Brassica fallow were compared with a neighbouring field which had continuous banana production. The rotation of bananas with Brassicas significantly reduced the number of burrowing nematode relative to continual banana production and changed the plant-parasitic nematode composition parasitising bananas. Following the Brassica fallow there was an increase in the population of root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.). The analysis of the soil nematode community indicated there was no evidence of top-down suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes and that numbers of burrowing nematodes were reduced solely to bottom-up effects through Brassicas being non-hosts to the nematode. Therefore, improved soil management post Brassica fallow is required to develop top-down regulation of plant-parasitic nematodes and to prevent a shift in the plant-parasitic nematode species as observed by the increase in root-knot nematode numbers.

Following the harvest of the Taveuni trials in 2014, the results showed that a combination of fish manure and rock phosphate was still doing better than the traditional NPK and Urea. A meeting with farmers decided to run with another season of trials comparing (i) rock phosphate and fish manure to (ii) NPK and Urea another two treatments adjusting (i) and (ii) based on soil tests. And because incidences of root rots and mealybugs were high in the last season, the planting materials for the treatments were split treated with half treated with insecticide 25ml/litre Suncloprid 20 SL and half treated with sea water. Three sites were planted and because of the prolonged drought from last year to early this year, 2 of the sites were abandoned and only the Tutu site was harvested. The Tutu harvest did not show any significant yield differences between the different fertilizer treatments. The results showed that Treating taro tops were better than untreated for both mealybugs and corm rot. However, the insecticide treatments were doing better than sea water. The sea water treatments reduced corm size as compared to insecticide treatment and quite distinctive in the non mucuna plot.

In conjunction with FST 2009/062, a biochar field trial was conducted at Vunivasa, Taveuni using cocoveneer pith as the feedstock. Biochar from pyrolysis conducted at three temperatures in Australia was compared with locally produced biochar from coconut tree pith and guava wood applied at different rates and priming. There was no change in taro corm weight with addition of biochar, nor any significant difference between pyrolysis temperature, feedstock source or rate treatments. Yields were high and it is possible that under close to non-limiting conditions, biochar will have less effect. In two other trials conducted by Tei Tei Taveuni (TTT) that were severely drought affected earlier in the season, there was a trend towards increased yield from application of biochar but this was not significant due to large site variation. It is quite likely that as the soil total C is very high on Taveuni there will be little benefit from increasing inert soil C levels with biochar.

Eleven fertiliser field trials were conducted by TTT and across trials there was a 7% mean increase in taro yield (as high as 20%) with a basal application of 40g of fishmeal compared with a standard NPK fertiliser plus two topdressings of N. Interestingly, although there were differences between sites, overall there was little benefit from the addition of rock phosphate, K and lime to the fishmeal. There tended to be less taro corm rot in fishmeal treated plots.

In Samoa an MSc student under the project investigated the effects of addition of mucuna to soils in pots on growth of taro and parasitic nematodes. Increasing rates of mucuna added as a green manure to soil significantly increased the growth parameters, biomass yield and corm yield of taro four months after planting. The population of PP nematodes declined significantly with increasing mucuna rates.

A PhD student working under the project in Samoa investigated the influence of selected cover crops on yield advantage of two taro varieties in Samoa. The positive role of cover cropping and green manuring can well be attributed to the yield differences observed in this experiment. Mucuna cover crop, with significantly higher biomass production over both the sites, accounted for the highest levels of nutrient uptake. The Salani site (high rainfall and consequently higher biomass) showed no significant yield difference (P<0.05) between the taro crop grown under mucuna mulch with and without fertiliser application, which therefore means fertiliser inputs can be kept to a minimum if not completely omitted. The biochar fallow, which had the lowest nitrogen contribution resulted in comparable yields owing to contribution of appreciable quantities of phosphorus, a well-known limiting nutrient element in the volcanic soils of the Pacific. The ash from the biochar may have contained appreciable P. The farmers fallow with low nitrogen and phosphorus addition, resulted in the lowest yield, though not significantly at the drier site.

In Kiribati the project has demonstrated in South Tarawa and in Abaiang that sweet potato varieties (PNG and PRAP - known locally) can be successfully grown with compost. The yield can even be much better if critical agronomic practices like mounding and lifting of vines is taught to growers.

Collaborating Institutions
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Ministry of Primary Industries, Fiji
Ministry of Environment, Lands & Agriculture Development, Kiribati
University of the South Pacific, Samoa
Tei Tei Taveni (Farmers' Association), Fiji
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Samoa
Overview Objectives

Declining soil fertility and biological soil health represent a major threat to sustainable agricultural development in the Pacific. Traditional land management systems on the Pacific islands were based on a long bush-fallow system; in the case of atolls, recycling of large amounts of organic material in pits or heaps. However, smallholders who have intensified crop production to supply growing urban and export markets have typically failed to replenish soil nutrients and organic matter adequately - leading to falling yields and problems with soil-borne diseases and nematodes that characterise declining soil health.

An earlier ACIAR project on the Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP), involving 16 Pacific Island countries, had considerable success in introducing participatory research and extension approaches to diagnose crop production problems and develop solutions. ACIAR also funded a Small Research Activity (PC/2010/038) to assess the status of soil health research and extension in the target countries (Fiji, Samoa and Kiribati).

In Queensland, soil health issues in intensive horticultural crops have arisen mainly through an over-reliance on inorganic fertiliser and pesticides. Here researchers have successfully developed concepts and methods in soil health management (especially in banana production systems) that are at an early stage of encouraging adoption by growers.

This project is built on the lessons learned during the DSAP and the SRA. It has three objectives:
1. To elucidate crop production and related soil health problems at specific pilot sites and develop physical, chemical and biological indicators underpinning an integrated approach to improving soil management;
2. To evaluate ‘best-bet’ soil improvement practices for sustaining intensive Pacific crop production;
3. To increase the understanding of soil health concepts (including physical, chemical and biological processes) among smallholder horticulture producers and their service providers and enhance their capacity to apply these concepts for sustained productivity.

Project Budget
$1,538,066.00
Grant Report Value
$1691873
Grant Report Recipient
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
Grant Report Finish Date
30/09/2015
Grant Report Start Date
28/03/2011

Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative

Project Leader
Dr Steven Underhill
Email
steven.underhill@deedi.qld.gov.au
Fax
61 7 3896 9444
Phone
61 7 3371 6429
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
HORT/2008/044
Start Date
01/02/2010
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
BR-202910-53646
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
31/01/2014
Extension Start Date
20/01/2014
Commissioned Organisation: 
University of Queensland, Australia
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
University of Queensland, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, Australia
Extension Finish Date
31/01/2015
Overview Collaborators
  • University of Adelaide, Australia
  • University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
  • James Cook University, Australia
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
  • University of the South Pacific, Fiji
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Richard Markham
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

PARDI commenced in February 2010 and is currently on-track against project milestones.
To date, nine rapid supply chain reviews covering taro, cassava, breadfruit, coconut, pearls, sea cucumber, canarium nut, value added fisheries, and high value timber have been undertaken. A further ten partial reviews have been completed for virgin coconut oil (VCO), sweet potato, vegetables, yam, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, ginger, teak and mahogany.
To ensure integration of consumer and market demands impacting on these chains, we have also undertaken Fiji municipal markets and consumer household surveys, taro consumer preference studies in the Sydney and Auckland markets, and a Vanuatu tourist consumer study on cocoa and canarium nut products.
A further four chains will be assessed over the next few months including; sea cucumber industries (Fiji and Tonga), Mahogany (Fiji), Tamarind (Vanuatu) and participatory based reviews (Vanuatu).
As a consequence of these reviews, an initial four PARDI-funded research projects were commenced in late 2010 and early 2011. Collectively, PARDI now has project-based activities across all target Pacific countries (Fiji [3], Samoa [1], Tonga [3], Solomon Islands [1], Vanuatu [1] and Kiribati [1]). Project details below:
PRA 2010.01 - This James Cook University (JCU) led project is working to increase cultured pearl production capacity and improve quality in the Fiji and Tongan cultured pearl industries.
PRA 2010.02- This University of the South Pacific (USP) led project aims to evaluate and develop new value adding products and technologies for Tilapia and Caulerpa (seaweed spp.) for commercial application in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
PRA 2010.04- This Southern Cross University (SCU) led project is undertaking a scoping study associated with the development of village-based training programmes and information sources for better postharvest handling and processing of sea cucumber in Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati.
PRA 2010.03 - A joint PARDI (Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) and ACIAR funded (PNG) project recently started, that aims to develop consumer-driven value-adding strategies and process techniques to support an emerging Canarium nut industry.
Supporting this portfolio are a series of ongoing small research activities (SRA) that include; consumer acceptance of the new taro cultivars, virgin coconut oil (VCO) chain assessment, PARDI Advisory Group operations, how best to create small-holder impacts from PARDI outputs, cocoa chain business case, and strategies for assessing and transferring capabilities.
The PARDI Advisory Group is currently reviewing a further five proposal, these include:
Creating export-orientated breadfruit production in Fiji
Producing high quality taro material in support of re-building Samoan taro exports
Premium market opportunities for smallholder cocoa producers in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands
Understand the impacts of population dynamics on supply chains
Establishing a series of pilot scale participatory guarantee schemes for vegetables

Much of PARDI’s supply-chain driven research projects have only recently commenced. Consequently it is pre-mature to demonstrate research outputs and impacts. Preliminary project-specific activities include:

PRA 2010.01 (Pearls): Pearl farmers and market structure research has been completed for Tonga and Fiji, a project-funded staff (Jamie Whitford) appointed, and initial farmer training commenced. A full-time Fiji-based project scientist was appointed in May 2011.
PRA 2010.02 (value-adding fisheries) Desk-top studies for Fiji, Samoa & Tonga markets, and analysis of chains in Fiji and Samoa have been completed. Work is ongoing for Tonga outer island groups.
PRA 2010.04 (Sea cucumber): Supply and value chains in Fiji and Tonga have been documented. An evaluation of export chains for processed product from Pacific into Asian markets is anticipated shortly. Tonga and Kiribati field trips are ongoing
SRA 2010.01 (Taro consumer study): Taro sensory testing has been completed in Fiji and Auckland markets and a final report completed.

PARDI has completed three training and development initiatives in the Pacific, including a pearl farmer training workshop in Tonga (Nov 2010), survey training for USP students (Dec 2010), and value chain analysis teaching workshop, Vanuatu (May 2011). Further targeted training of fisheries staff is ongoing (PRA 2010.01 and PRA 2010.04).

To ensure effective project communication we have held six coordination workshops, prepared two six-monthly newsletters, and plan to shortly post PARDI research reports on SPC’s LRD website.

PARDI has participated in series meetings to establish close links with other current ACIAR and donor-funded activities in the region. Through the assistance of SPC and ACIAR, strong engagement with other ACIAR and EU-funded projects particularly in taro and cocoa are emerging; and with PHAMA in cocoa and canarium nut.
Finally, over the last 6 months the PARDI team has increased by 30 staff. There are presently 51 PARDI research staff; with the possibility of a further 19 staff dependant on the outcome of research proposals reviews.
To ensure pending commissioned projects have sufficient operational time, PARDI has requested and been granted a variation to extend the project completion date to January 2015.

PARDI conducts value chain analysis and research to strengthen selected value chains in Pacific horticulture, fisheries and forestry products. This year’s achievements include:
16 technical training workshops have been held.
28 industry and government stakeholders are receiving targeted capacity building and technical support.
17 higher degree students are linked to PARDI projects.
Three major consumer and market place studies have been undertaken:
1. Retail transformation market study - 1000 households in Fiji;
2. Consumer study for Canarium and chocolate products - 400 tourists in Vanuatu;
3. Study of teak supply capabilities in Solomon Islands and a global market analysis is well advanced.
Cocoa. Work has continued with cocoa value chain stakeholders in Vanuatu and the Solomon islands. The collaboration continues to expand to include the Vanuatu statistics office, two new chocolate importers, and PHAMA as well as facilitation for an annual Vanuatu Cocoa Industry Strategic Workshop.
Breadfruit. Research trials and infrastructure associated with the PARDI breadfruit project were severely impacted by flooding in early 2012. A large number (2000) root suckers and marcotts are now ready for field trials. SPC has released nearly 200 tissue-cultured trees. Three orchards have been established and a total of 350 trees planted.
Taro. CePaCT has continued working on taro virus indexing and elimination, in support of the Samoan taro-leaf-blight breeding program. Two virus-elimination methods have been selected, which have proven effective against some TaBV and DsMV infecting cycle-7 taro. Agronomic assessments are being undertaken monthly, with soil tests on selected parameters almost completed. Corms are being sequentially harvested to determine the optimum age for harvesting. A market-based consumer-acceptance study of selected varieties amongst Samoans living in Auckland, New Zealand, was recently completed.
Vegetables. This project seeks to improve smallholder vegetable farmers (Fiji and Solomon Islands) access to high-value domestic markets, through the development of participatory guarantee schemes (PGS). Two target resort partners and four core PGS grower groups have been identified. An industry stakeholder workshop was held in November 2012. An assessment of postharvest wastage has been undertaken. In the Solomon Islands, an audit of farm business management skills has been undertaken.
Protective cropping crops. This new project seeks to address poor product quality and short seasonality, through the development and application of protective cropping systems in Fiji and Samoa. A preliminary assessment of existing protective cropping infrastructure has been completed, with current effort focussed on establishing four trial sites.
Pearls. Development plans for pearl industries in Fiji and Tonga have been drafted. A national spat collection program was initiated in Fiji, in partnership with Fiji Fisheries. Spat collection equipment has been deployed to communities adjacent to pearl farms throughout the country, to provide an on-going supply of oysters for current pearl farms, thus addressing a key bottleneck for the industry. A series of capacity-building workshops have been held. A survey of the mother-of-pearl (MOP) handicraft industry in Fiji showed that this sector had an annual value of more than F$10 million of which more than 85% is based on MOP items imported from Asia.
Value-added fisheries products. Marketing strategy and market chains have been developed and tested for tilapia and Caulerpa (sea grapes). In Fiji a cold-chain HACCP analysis is needed for Caulerpa. The shelf-life of Caulerpa has been extended up to 12 days and a research partnership with the private sector is assessing how this can be incorporated into the supply chain (for the export market).
Tamarind. The value chain map has been completed. Research has demonstrated that a solar dryer was more efficient than passive sun drying for tamarind and that the fruit dries to a commercially acceptable water activity level after two days of fine weather in the solar dryer. Microbiological test results indicated that all samples met Australian food standards.
Canarium. The industry has increased since the start of the project with a private-sector partner now selling product in supermarkets and planning to triple production to 1.5 tonnes in the coming year. Research on tree selection has shown that the profitability of the industry could be greatly increased by selecting trees with large kernels and high kernel recovery.
Teak. The social research team visited collaborating villages in Solomon Islands to document areas of concern for growers. Grower and plantation operations were then assessed to identify market drivers for teak and their effect on grower participation.
PARDI publications, reports and newsletters are available online: http://www.spc.int/lrd

Collaborating Institutions
University of Adelaide, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Australia
University of the Sunshine Coast, Faculty of Science, Health and Education, Australia
James Cook University, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, Australia
Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Land Resources Division, Fiji
University of the South Pacific, Faculty of Business and Economics, Fiji
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Centre for Tropical Agriculture, Australia
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

Significant challenges face Pacific island countries (PICs) in improving livelihoods and overcoming poverty - in particular, food and fuel price surges in 2008, the impact of the global economic crisis, a number of natural disasters, difficulties maintaining infrastructure and the negative effects of climate change. PICs and international agencies acknowledge that the way to meet many of these challenges is to improve competitiveness of industries and thus provide a platform for stronger economic growth. This project will study issues particularly affecting food production and agricultural sector development. These include isolation from key growth markets and limited coordination of supply chains. There is a growing presence of internationally supported economic development programs that address some of these issues in the region; this project, involving ACIAR’s Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI), will complement that work with a focus on research for development to underpin the competitiveness of targeted high-value agriculture, fisheries and forestry products.

Project Budget
$9,991,706.00
Grant Report Value
$10990877
Grant Report Recipient
University of Queensland
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
4068
Grant Report Finish Date
31/01/2015
Grant Report Start Date
05/02/2010

Integrated crop production of bananas in Indonesia and Australia

Project Leader
Dr Agustin Molina
Email
a.molina@cgiar.org
Fax
63 49 5367995
Phone
63 2 352 1763
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
HORT/2008/040
Start Date
01/07/2009
Related Project IARCS
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
BR-201410-50998
Project Type
Multilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
30/06/2013
Extension Start Date
01/07/2013
Commissioned Organisation: 
Bioversity International, Philippines
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
Bioversity International, Commodities for Livelihoods Program, Philippines
Extension Finish Date
31/03/2014
Overview Collaborators
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Indonesian Tropical Fruit Research Institute, Indonesia
  • University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
  • Indonesian Centre for Horticulture Research and Development, Indonesia
  • Directorate General of Horticulture, Indonesia
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Richard Markham
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Introduction:
The overall aim of this project is to develop an integrated approach to crop production of bananas to effectively manage wilt diseases in Indonesia and Australia.
During the reporting period, encouraging progress has already been made towards achieving the project’s three objectives of:
Developing packages of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/Integrated Crop Management (ICM) guidelines for rehabilitating and improving the livelihoods of banana farmers.
Evaluating and adapting packages of IPM/ICM technologies to develop sustainable and profitable banana production systems.
Undertaking research to refine management practices using IPM/ICM principles.
Inception workshop:
The project kicked off with an inception workshop in Bogor, Indonesia on August 18-22, 2009 to discuss among participating researchers and coordinators from collaborating institutes the details of the project methodologies, activities, responsibilities and timelines for project implementation (see attachments 1 and 2). Representatives from DEEDI, ACIAR, ITFRI, GMU, ICHORD, DG Hort and Bioversity attended the workshop. Two community pilot sites were identified - Serampad, Cianjur, West Java and Legundi, South Lampung - based on the following criteria for selection: a) the location has the potential to become a major banana-producing center; b) the site is one of the buffer zones of Jakarta Special Capital in supporting fruits and foods; c) banana is an important crop in the area; d) wilt diseases are a major constraint for banana production in the area; and e) farmers and farmer groups in the area are willing cooperators. Best-bet crop-management options were identified for piloting in the project (see section2, objective1; annex 7 and attachment 2).
Pilot Studies:
The workshop was followed by participatory rural appraisals (PRAs) conducted in October and November 2009 in the two identified pilot locations Legundi Village and Serampad Village. Protocols and questionnaires were formulated to guide the conduct of the PRA (see annex 6). From these PRAs, the following information was gathered: a) transect map of Serampad village; b) problems in banana production systems and disease management in both villages; c) the possible solutions/ interventions to improve productivity; and d) a schematic diagram of the banana supply chain of both villages (see annexes 4 & 5).
In Lampung, it was found that banana production systems are based only on farmers’ knowledge and farmers have no formal training or information on banana production, disease management and IPM/ ICM, a situation leading to low productivity. The varieties planted in the area are not popular varieties in the market, thus commanding a low price in the market. The analysis and interpretation of the complete dataset will be published in the near future as more field information is collected.
In Serampad, it was found that banana is planted in mixed cropping systems with high-value crops such as maize, chilli and other vegetables, where banana is only the secondary crop. Banana production and disease management technologies that increase productivity are generally lacking.
Risk analysis tool:
In Australia, a risk analysis tool is being developed for the banana industry to determine the risk of developing Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense) (Foc) on banana plantations in Australia. The tool will comprise 3 sections: a checklist to assess the risk of Fusarium, a flow diagram of the risk of developing Fusarium wilt at different stages of the crop production cycle, and further information on how to deal with and manage the risk of Foc. The checklist has been developed prior to project inception, and is currently undergoing review with banana industry personnel. This tool will be validated in this study in managing Foc Race 1 in Australia
Research to refine management practices:
Studies to understand the dynamics of Foc infection particularly on the effect of soil supression were intiated in Indonesia and Australia. GMU and DEEDI scientists started interacting to harmonize methodologies in carrying out soil supression studies. A workshop was carried out in GMU between GMU, DEEDI, and Bioversity researchers in March 2010. A hands-on training between the Australian and Indonesian researchers was done in GMU. Protocols on sampling, analyses of various soil samples to determine physico-chemico-biological properties and relate it to soil supression to Foc was agreed upon. The various soil properties will be related to Foc severity or fungistasis both in controlled experiment as well as field data from farmers’ fields.
In Indonesia, some soil samplings have already been carried out from various places with known disease severity, based on actual observations and on accounts by farmers’ interviews. A survey was conducted comparing five paired organic and conventional banana plantations. From each plantation, soil samples were collected from three separate fields and analysed on chemical, physical and biological soil health indicators using the methods described in the protocol manual. The ability to suppress Fusarium wilts in bananas and tomatoes was also tested for the soils collected. Disease progress was recorded once a week from day 21 to day 58 post inoculation. The area under the disease progress curve (AUC) for each plant was calculated, and these are currently being analysed along with the soil indicators. Glasshouse trials are currently ongoing to clarify the potential for soils collected from the survey of organic and conventional banana plantations to suppress Foc.
Furthermore, surveys of banana growers in north Queensland and northern NSW growing banana cultivars susceptible to Foc are taking place. Currently, four sites have been sampled in north Queensland and five sites with suppressive and conducive soils have been identified in northern NSW. Preliminary experiments are being conducted for the characterization of the soil samples based on chemical and biological properties. Soil samples were collected from locations with healthy and Foc infected soils. Preliminary isolation of bacterial colonies for characterization is still being conducted. Labile Carbon (C) concentration experiments in healthy and infected soil samples on-going for the purpose of identifying relationships between the labile C and Foc infection. Experiments for other chemical soil characteristics will be conducted later in the project. Soil samples from other locations will also be tested later.
A field demonstration was established on a Ducasse (ABB, Pisang Awak) plantation infected with Foc Race 1. The experiment had five treatments: T1 - a combination of two Effective Microbes (EM) products on fresh compost; T2 - aged compost; T3 - Natural Silica (ground diatomaceous earth); T4 - a combination of T1-T3; and T5 - an untreated control. The EM treatments were reapplied fortnightly, over the duration of the experiment. All treatments were managed organically according to BFA (Biological Farmers Association) standards. Disease progress was recorded every two weeks and growth was measured once a month. Soil samples were taken initially, after two months and at the end of the experiment at four months post application. Soil samples are being analysed for characteristics described in the protocol manual, and results will be available in the next report. The potential for the treatments used in the demonstration trial to suppress Foc is also being tested in glasshouse trials.

Introduction
The overall aim of this project is to develop an integrated approach in banana crop production to effectively manage wilt diseases and enhance productivity and livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Indonesia and Australia.
During the reporting period, encouraging progress has already been made towards achieving the project’s three objectives of:
1. Developing packages of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/Integrated Crop Management (ICM) guidelines for rehabilitating and improving the livelihoods of banana farmers.
2. Evaluating and adapting packages of IPM/ICM technologies to develop sustainable and profitable banana production systems.
3. Undertaking research to refine management practices using IPM/ICM principles.
Piloting IPM/ICM packages to improve banana productivity and livelihoods of banana farmers (Indonesia)
Based on the results of the project inception meetings during the first year of the project, two communities, namely, Serampad Village, Cianjur in West Java, and in Legundi Village, South Lampung, Sumatra, were chosen for the establishment of pilot studies. Participatory rapid appraisals (PRAs) were conducted among farmer groups Dinas, Balai Pengkajian Teknologi Pertanian NAD (BPTP) and Indonesia Tropical Fruit Research Institute (ITFRI), results of which were used to formulate plans for the pilot plots in each village. Production problems and opportunities were identified and discussed among the various stakeholders. The following IPM/ICM options were considered in the pilot studies: (1) land preparation; (2) banana population management ; (3) crop diversity; (4) use of disease-free planting materials; (5) nutrient management; (6) soil-water management; (7) early disease monitoring and eradication; (8) plant protection (fruit bagging and deflowering); and (9) quarantine. The pilot studies are now work-in-progress.
In Cianjur, a total of 15 farmers agreed to participate in the pilot study, of which 3 farmers agreed to implement the complete set of management options. The rest of the farmers chose different levels of management options according to their interest and capacities. In Lampung, of the 20 farmer-participants, 3 farmers agreed to implement the complete set while the others chose to use options appropriate to their capacities and cropping systems. Many of the farmers in Lampung practice mixed cropping of bananas with maize, peppers and other vegetables.
The major component of this pilot study is the provision and use of affordable and sustainable supply of clean planting materials, grown with appropriate cultural practices. Thus, the main activities during this period of reporting were the provision of banana seedlings and capacity-building on the production and care of banana seedlings, as well as cultural practices. Two seedling systems were ‘adapted’, namely seedlings from bits derived from corms and tissue culture seedlings. The farmers in both locations were taught the conventional propagation method of banana bits. This included the actual protocol of bit-production and the necessary nursery management. This activity was complemented by the establishment of the banana bit nursery in Legundi in 2010. ITFRI, in collaboration with Dinas and the farmer groups in the village, facilitated a village level training on corm bits nursery establishment, from corm selection to seedbed preparation and nursery maintenance. Similarly, farmers were also taught nursery management of seedlings derived from tissue culture. Tissue culture meriplants were sourced from ITFRI tissue culture laboratory, while efforts are on-going to establish a more sustainable source of meriplants from private tissue culture laboratories. Farmers in the village plant varieties based on market preference and demand. Currently, the village nursery sells and maintains a number of banana varieties (e.g. Pisang Serei, Pisang Mas, Raja Bulu etc.) from bits. The small village nursery is now becoming a potential livelihood for local farmers. The village farmers who manage the nursery collaborated recently with Dinas to supply the banana seedling requirement for its local banana project.
ITFRI and BPTP extension technicians have regularly monitored and documented the activities of collaborating farmers. At the onset of the pilot studies, the farmers agreed the options that they are going to implement. However there were some variations in implementation depending on the prevailing situation, such as rainfall level, availability of irrigation„ cropping system type, and preference to tissue culture versus bits. The actual practices of the participants were recorded and these will form the basis for analysing changes in productivity and income. Detailed descriptions of activities are included in the Annex Section.
Pathogen virulence and cultivar resistance studies (Indonesia)
Virulence studies of the various strains of Foc to different Indonesian cultivars is carried out at the screenhouse at ITFRI. Selected cultivars representing important genomic groups are inoculated with Foc vegetatively compatible groups (VCGs) that were characterised in previous ACIAR projects. Varieties included: (1) Berlin (AA); (2) Calcutta (AA); (3) Kilita (AAB); (4) Klutuk Awu (BB); (5) Barangan (AAA); (6) Ambon Hijau (AAA Cavendish type); (7) Ambon Kuning (AAA Gros Michel); (8) Ketan (AAB); (9) Perancis (ABB); (10) Kepok (ABB Saba); (11) Tanduk (ABB Plantain). The virulence of the various VCGs vis a vis the resistance of the various cultivars are evaluated. Results will pave the way to identifying resistant cultivars to specific VCGs, which is likely to be important in cultivar deployment as a means of disease management, and the development of differential host cultivars for diagnostics of Foc Races. This study is being validated in the field using the same set of cultivars, but testing against the most virulent Tropical Race (TR) 4, the VCG1213/16. Field evaluation is implemented in naturally Foc TR4 infested soil in Aripan Experimental Farm, Solok, West Sumatra. The experiment was set up following the randomised complete block design with 12 treatments (11 varieties, plus uninoculated Pisang Hijau, as a control ), with 3 replicates having 10 plants per replicate. To ensure Foc TR4 infection, hardened seedlings for field evaluation were inoculated with VCG 01213/16 before planting. Visible symptoms of Foc TR4 infection such as leaf yellowing, pseudostem splitting, petiole buckling and wilting are being observed among the test plants. The studies are work-in-progress.
Soil characterisation study to understand soil Foc-suppression to refine disease management approaches
(Australia) Trials are currently ongoing to clarify the potential for soils collected from the survey of organic and conventional banana plantations to suppress Foc. The potential for the treatments used in the demonstration trial to suppress Foc are also being tested in glasshouse trials. Furthermore, surveys of banana growers in north Queensland and northern NSW growing banana cultivars susceptible to Foc are taking place. Four sites have already been sampled in north Queensland, and five sites with suppressive and conducive soils have been identified in northern NSW. Field surveys have taken place on 4 farms (8 fields) in northern NSW and 3 farms (9 fields) in north Queensland. All farms are primarily focused on Lady Finger (Pome, AAB) production, as Lady Finger commands a higher market price relative to Cavendish. In northern NSW, both of the soil enzyme analyses (FDA and -glucosidase) indicated lower levels of microbial activity associated with the blocks where Fusarium wilt (FW) was more severe. Further analyses of soil samples for chemical and biological properties have taken place and will be related to disease severity and progression.
Preliminary results from the survey and the pot experiment suggested that it is possible to use the selected biological indicators to assess the effects of different banana crop management practices on disease incidence and soil microflora. Current rapid screening techniques to determine the soil suppressiveness of Foc need to be improved. The use of biological indicators in the soil from farms did not necessarily relate to suppression of the pathogen but had an effect on the plants’ ability to tolerate the disease and enabled plants to continue to grow even though infected with the pathogen.
A second field demonstration was established on a Ducasse (AAB, Pisang Awak) plantation infested with Foc Race 1. The site was flattened by cyclone Yasi, where any bunch-bearing plants had been knocked down. This created more uniform cropping since all plants were knocked down and the second crop will start from the new suckers. Thus, bunch production would be delayed in the trial, and bunch harvests would not commence on the demonstration site until October 2011. The experiment had four management treatments, which comprised multiple practice changes: (1) ‘A’ practice - aspiration practice that may reduce severity of FW, which includes treatments that are currently available to banana growers; (2) ‘B’ practice - best practice - practices that are currently available to banana growers and can be easily implemented; (3) ‘C’ practice - current practice - the growers’ current method of banana management; and (4) ‘D’ practice - worst practices - include practices used by banana growers that are believed to enhance the severity of FW. The trial has only been established for three months and to date, no treatment differences have been observed.
(Indonesia) Soil samples from small-scale banana farms and commercial Cavendish plantations with histories of different incidence of Foc were collected and analysed in the laboratory of Agricultural Biotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture at UGM. The soils were characterised as to their physical, biochemical and biological properties to understand the mechanism and potential of soil suppression on the management of Foc. Soil samples were collected from (1) a private banana company in Lampung (GGPC and NTF), farmers’ farms in (2) West Java and (3) South Lampung, and (4) an institutional farm belonging to Balai Benih (Seed Institute) in Salaman, Central Java. The soil samples consist of Foc-infected soil samples (bases were the recorded Foc incidence in the area) and healthy soil samples (soils collected from healthy plants). Soil samples were obtained from the banana rhizosphere of both Foc-infected and healthy banana plants.
Preliminary results showed that more diverse microbial community profiles were associated with soil samples from farms that were managed using the following: (1) crop rotation with cassava, pineapple, maize and (2) application of organic fertiliser (cassava and the decomposed cassava material). There is an indication that known Foc-antagonistic species such as Pseudomonas fluorescens were found and isolated from root rhizosphere of healthy Cavendish (variety DM2) plantation in NTF. Higher Fluorescein diacetate Fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis assays can be used to measure enzyme activity produced by microbes in a sample. A bright yellow glow is produced and is strongest when enzymatic activity is greatest. This can be quantified using a spectrofluorometer.
(FDA) values were observed from Foc-infected soil samples; high FDA values may be associated to the higher population of Foc. On the other hand, PNG (-nitrophenyl -D-glucopyranosidase) values were high in NTF, which may be related to high microbial activity in the soil. Soil samples from West Java and Central Java were found with low microbial activity compared to the samples from NTF. The amount of C labile from the resistant plant (DM2) soil samples may have come from the decomposition activity of antagonist microbes against Foc, while the C labile from the susceptible plant (CJ20, Ambon Kuning and Raja Bulu) samples may have come from the high Foc activity in the soil. Other physical and chemical soil characteristics related to the suppression or development of Foc are still being conducted in the laboratory. Experimental plots in the glasshouse and in the field will be conducted later to validate the data collected from the field soil sample analyses, and the historical Foc incidence from the fields where the samples were collected. This study is a work-in-progress.

The overall aim of this project is to develop an integrated approach in banana crop production to effectively manage wilt diseases and enhance productivity and livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Indonesia and Australia.
During the reporting period, encouraging progress has been made towards achieving the project’s three objectives of:
1. Developing packages of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/Integrated Crop Management (ICM) guidelines for rehabilitating and improving the livelihoods of banana farmers.
2. Evaluating and adapting packages of IPM/ICM technologies to develop sustainable and profitable banana production systems.
3. Undertaking research to refine management practices using IPM/ICM principles.

Collaborating Institutions
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Indonesian Tropical Fruit Research Institute, Indonesia
University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
Indonesian Centre for Horticulture Research and Development, Indonesia
Directorate General of Horticulture, Indonesia
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

Mitigation of the threat posed by two diseases of bananas - namely fusarium wilt (caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc) and banana blood disease (caused by Pseudomonas celebensi) - has been the objective of two recent ACIAR projects. Foc is devastating smallholder banana farms in Indonesia because of the occurrence of a virulent race, TR4, which overcomes resistance mechanisms that Cavendish bananas demonstrate to other fusarium races. Within Australia the project will seek to develop management strategies to slow the spread of fusarium wilt race 1 which has become a major issue for Lady Finger growers on the Atherton Tablelands. These ACIAR studies will improve the livelihoods of small-scale banana farmers in Indonesia and the income of banana producers in Australia by improving production practices, including the effective management of banana wilts. The project will use a holistic approach and integrate known control tactics with appropriate cultural and production practices in two pilot study areas. The scientists will study best-bet farm management practices and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. Complementary studies which will look to address knowledge gaps in relation to fusarium wilt (more specifically TR4) will further improve understanding and ability to manage wilt diseases.

Project Budget
$1,198,093.00
Grant Report Recipient
Bioversity International
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
Grant Report Finish Date
31/03/2014
Grant Report Start Date
23/06/2009

Improving added value and small medium enterprises capacity in the utilisation of plantation timber for furniture production in Jepara region

Project Leader
Associate Professor Barbara Ozarska
Email
bo@unimelb.edu.au
Fax
03 9250 6917
Phone
03 9250 6878
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project Coordinator Phone
0419 496 579
02 6217 0549
Project ID: 
FST/2006/117
Start Date
01/01/2009
Project Coordinator Fax
02 6217 0501
Reference Number
SB-201810-35558
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Final Progress Report

Indonesia is the world’s eighteenth largest furniture exporter, with exported products worth US$2.8 billion in 2013. Jepara, located in Central Java, is well known for its crafted wooden furniture, which is made primarily from teak and mahogany from plantation/community forest. The furniture industry in this region employs approximately 170,000 people and is characterised by around 12,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a small number of large, mainly export oriented producers. The competitiveness of the furniture companies has been constrained by weaknesses in production and product quality skills, process and technology deficiencies and low wood recovery rates.The ACIAR project ‘Improving added value and small medium enterprises capacity in the utilisation of plantation timber for furniture production in Jepara region’ was developed with the overall aim to support the Indonesian furniture industry by enhancing value-adding from plantation timber production based on teak and mahogany. The research focussed on the development and implementation of optimal and efficient processing techniques to facilitate a broader range of new designs and high-quality new products.
The project was led by the University of Melbourne with the project partners representing education, research and training institutions as well as industry organisations and furniture SMEs. The members of these organisations have formed a cohesive network with a strong culture of collaboration. The project was focused on applied research and development activities, with the dissemination of research outputs to the industry through extensive training provided by the project partners. A network of sixteen ‘Industry Champions’ companies was established which represented the various types, sizes and models of the Jepara furniture industry and the various aspects of wood processing and manufacturing (from sawing to finishing). The project team members worked closely with these companies on the implementation of the project methodology scaling up the dissemination process to companies outside the network. This approach was effective.
The project provided a significant contribution to wood science and technology both in Indonesia and internationally, and to the timber industry sector by increasing the utilisation of timber from young plantations in the production of furniture for domestic and export markets. Research studies conducted by the project’s research teams have been well documented and published. The list of the project publications is impressive and comprises: 48 scientific publications and 96 project reports and data sheets. In particular, a valuable output of the project research activities is a book entitled ‘Furniture from plantation timber. A manual for furniture manufacturers in the Jepara region of Indonesia’ The 221-page manual comprises a series of guides, prepared in both English and Bahasa, which combine the knowledge of Australian and Indonesian wood scientists involved in the project working closely with local sawmillers and furniture manufacturers in Jepara. The aim of the manual is to contribute to improved processing efficiency, product quality and worker safety.
The key research findings include the development of drying schedules, treatment methods and improved manufacturing technologies for plantation timbers. The intermediate scientific outcomes are that both researchers and wood manufacturing companies at Jepara are already using the information produced by the project to improve their efficiency and the quality of their wooden products.
The project has encouraged the reduction of waste in sawmilling and furniture production by introducing more efficient wood processing and manufacturing methods, decreasing wood drying degrades, utilising small dimension timbers and wood off-cuts for various wood components, and introducing new technologies such as wood bending and laminating. These value-added methods will result in the more efficient use of timber, thus it will enable companies to produce ‘more from less’.
The project placed a strong focus on improving health and safety aspects of timber processing and manufacturing. Many of the current practices are unsafe and may cause serious injuries and deaths of factory workers. Standard safety signs were placed in the factories and the team has also donated personal protection equipment to many enterprises.
A strong emphasis was placed on disseminating the research findings to furniture companies in the Jepara region, including those outside the industry cluster groups. This was done through involving these companies in project workshops, seminars and training courses and disseminating the project outputs through newsletters, training notes and data sheets. Twenty training courses were provided, which were attended by over 500 industry members. Course notes were prepared for each participant in Bahasa Indonesia. The training participants rated the courses very highly.
The results of the impact assessment undertaken close to the project completion date revealed that there has been a 40% increase in sales turnover of the Industry Champions after various training courses provided by the project, and their income has increased by about 50%. It is estimated that 50 firms have undertaken some adoption of the project outputs.
It is believed that the network that was developed within the project will provide sustainable long-term capacity improvements and will offer significant benefits to the Jepara furniture industry, such as the following:
enhanced research capacity of the project partner organisations will have direct benefits to the industry by educating and training technical experts in wood processing and manufacturing, product development, waste management, quality control and production efficiency
improved training for the timber and furniture industry
improved technical skills within the industry
strengthened networks between Jepara furniture companies
improved design network through the establishment of links between designers and the furniture companies
increased awareness of workplace safety and export product quality requirements.
The following recommendations have been developed for future research and development activities, which would cover gaps in the value chain leading to a successful furniture industry based on sustainable plantation timber resources:
A future project should be developed which would extend research and technology transfer activities to other furniture industry regions in Indonesia.
The technical research expertise of the FST/2006/117 project and value chain analysis approach of the FST/2007/119 project should be combined. This would significantly strengthen the capacity of the project teams by merging technical and social skills and expertise needed in addressing key elements of the value chain in processing plantation grown timbers.
Further research on wood drying, preservation and manufacturing technologies applicable to young plantation timber species in Indonesia should be conducted.
Activities on improving design of wood products by involving existing design schools and designer groups should be continued.
The proposed concept for a new research program is well aligned with the industry and government strategic directions by addressing the challenges and synchronising the production of wood products based on sustainable timber resources

Finish Date
31/12/2013
Extension Start Date
01/01/2014
Commissioned Organisation: 
University of Melbourne, Australia
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Project Coordinator Email
bartlett@aciar.gov.au
Commissioned Organisation
University of Melbourne, Australia
Extension Finish Date
31/12/2014
Overview Collaborators
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Forest Research and Development Agency, Indonesia
  • Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia
  • Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
  • Technical College of Wood Technology, Indonesia
  • Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia
  • Forum Rembug Kluster, Indonesia
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Mr Tony Bartlett
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Although the Project start date was 1 January 2009, delays in obtaining signed Project Agreements between the contractual parties meant that research activities of the project did not commence until the beginning of May 2009. Despite the delayed start, the project has made an impressive progress during Year 1 with active participation of all project partners.

The major activities and achievements during the first year are as follows:
1. The Project Steering Committee was formed consisting of two representatives from each partner organisation.
2. The assessment of research capabilities of each partner organisation involved in the project was undertaken to facilitate the development of networking arrangements between the project members. This knowledge and experience will be essential in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project outcomes and will enable the participating organisations to take the role of the “value-adding experts” after the project is completed.
3. The criteria for the selection of the Industry Champions were developed by the project partners. Sixteen companies were selected as the members of the Industry Champions representing various types of sizes and models of the Jepara furniture industry and various aspects of wood processing and manufacturing. The Industry Champions will be the first beneficiaries of the project outcomes as the improvements and implementation of manufacturing methods, designs and products, will be firstly undertaken by these companies.
4. The Project Field Officer, Mrs Nurul Izza, was appointed to the project and is based at the project office in Jepara. The Field Officer is playing an important role of linking the project researchers with the Industry Champions.
5. Five teams of researchers conducted a detailed analysis of the current capabilities of the 16 Industry Champions, which included all major processing and manufacturing stages of the production process:
 Sawing.
 Preservative Treatment.
 Drying.
 Manufacturing.
 Finishing.
A detailed report was prepared on each specific aspect of the production process for each Industry Champion. The individual reports were then combined into five final assessment reports: Sawmilling, Treatment, Drying, Manufacturing Process and Finishing. The reports provide details on the assessment of all aspects of processing and manufacturing processes applied by the Industry Champions, as well as provide general comments on the current industry practices and recommendations for improvements and changes. A General Assessment Report has been developed which provides the summary information on the assessment of five processing and manufacturing stages of the wood products production process without revealing any confidential information on the Industry Champions. The report will be made available to the government organizations, all industry stakeholders, NGOs and other relevant organizations.
6. Priority research projects were identified and teams of researchers to carry out the studies were formed. The projects include the study on alternative species which could be used for high value wood products, research on preservative treatment and developing drying schedules for teak and mahogany. The review of standards related to furniture products, both Indonesian and Australian standards, has commenced.

Significant progress has been made during Year 2 across each of the four main objectives of the project.
The major activities and achievements are as follows:
1. The First Annual Workshop was held on 6th August 2010 in Jepara with the aim to update the Industry Champions and the project stakeholders on the progress made during the first year of the project term. Presentations by the project team leaders were made on the results of the assessment of the current capabilities of the Industry Champions companies which were undertaken in Year 1. The presentations were followed by an open discussion on the industry’s major problems and the ways to find optimal solutions. The industry Champions expressed willingness to work with the project team on the implementation of improvements and changes recommended by the project teams.
Implementation of these recommendations was one of the major project activities carried out during the Year 2.
Implementation visits to the Industry Champions companies having drying, manufacturing and finishing facilities were made by the relevant teams in March 2011. The team members spent a lot of time with each individual company explaining the details of the recommendations and discussing which improvements are feasible taking into account financial or other constraints. Detailed reports have been written summarising the visit to each company with confidential information for each company. Follow up visits will be made on regular basis (every 6-7 months) until the project completion.
2. Good progress has been made on the project research activities carried out by the five research teams: sawing, drying, preservative treatment, manufacturing and finishing. Each team has developed a detailed working plan for research studies to be completed within the project term. Many research and industry activities have been already completed or are in an advanced stage of development. Some of these studies are summarised below:
Sawing:
A sawing recovery study was completed in five Industry Champions’ facilities in Jepara and a report completed. The study revealed that the sawing recovery in Jepara is higher than that stated in the Regulation for sawn timber recovery issued by Ministry of Forestry.
A report “Using metal detectors in sawmills - recommendations for Jepara” was completed and distributed to the project partners. The report provides concise descriptions of several metal detecting options available for the timber industry and provides recommendations for handling incoming logs in a typical Jepara sawmill facility. In addition to sawmillers, the information may also be of interest to manufacturers who encounter metal in their timber feedstock.
Preservative treatment:
Studies have been completed and reported by the Treatment Team that outline decision processes on the preservative treatment of wood products manufactured in Jepara and describe various treatment processes that might be used by the Jepara wood processing industry.
Heat treatment of teak to reduce the colour difference between sapwood and heartwood has been completed.
A program of research was developed into steaming followed by soaking in preservatives of teak (Tectona grandis L.f. - Verbenaceae), mahogany (Swietenia sp. - Meliaceae), mindi (Melia azedarach L. - Meliaceae), and trembesi (Samanea saman Merr. - Mimosaceae). Treated material will then be exposed to beetle and termite attack.
Wood structure assessment by macroscopic observation of vessels size of teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia sp.), mindi (Melia azedarach), and trembesi (Samanea saman) has been conducted to determine the possibility of penetration by beetles’ eggs.
Investigation on the impact of microwave pre-treatment on the penetration of wood preservatives into teak sapwood has been completed.
Vacuum pressure treatment of teak has been carried out using various wood preservatives. Non-pressure treatment of teak using boron based preservative has been carried out. Techniques include: dip diffusion, cold soak and hot & cold processes. This research will continue on other species: mahogany, mindi and trembesi.
Demonstration treatment plants have been constructed (steam-cold soak, hot & cold, vacuum pressure). It is planned to use these plants for demonstration and training.
Laboratory research into the decay durability of heat treated teak has been completed.
Preliminary research into the impact of ammonia fumigation on the colour of teak has been completed.
Wood drying:
Drying trials have been conducted on four primary wood species used in Jepara: teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia sp), mindi (Melia azedarach), and trembesi (Samanea saman). The results from this work will be provided in technical brochures to interested kiln operators throughout Jepara and presented at the future training sessions.
Manufacturing:
Collection and review of international standards and specifications for furniture at SMEs has been carried out. The aim of this work is to collate Indonesian and international standards, methods and specifications related to furniture production methods, quality control and requirements for furniture applicable to SMEs. The data and information will be then used for the development of quality control assessment methods and tests applicable to SMEs in Jepara.
Collection and review of basic properties of the alternative species for furniture: jabon (Anthocephalus cadamba) and sungkai (Peronema canescens) is in progress.
The literature review on alternative species of mangium (Acacia mangium) and trembesi (Samanea saman) is in progress.
A study on the utilization of selected Lesser Used Species for manufacturing of furniture has been completed,
A study on the current recovery of furniture components has been undertaken. The results will be used for developing recommendations for making improvements in recovery and waste reduction.
Finishing:
A research study on the enhancement of surface appearance of tropical woods from community forest has been carried out by application of ammonia fuming technique. The experimental result showed that ammonia fuming could change significantly the natural color of nangka (Artocarpus heterophyllus), waru (Hibiscus tiliaceus Bl.), afrika (Maesopsis eminii), akasia mangium (Acacia mangium Willd.), mahoni (Swietenia sp.), teak (Tectona grandis) and puspa (Schima wallichii). The woods treated by ammonia fuming showed an increase in resistance against termite attack.
3. To ensure the project sustainability after its completion, a strong emphasis has been placed on the establishment of a comprehensive training program. Two training courses were provided to the Jepara SMEs: on sawing processes and wood drying.
The sawing training was carried out by the members of the Sawing Team on 19 April 2011 in Jepara. The session was attended by 16 participants from the furniture industry, including representatives of the Industry Champions and the Jepara Small-scale Furniture Producers Association (APKJ) The training included the following subjects: basic physical and mechanical properties of wood, target size, standard efficiency and safety.
The wood drying training will be held on 22-23 May 2011. The training will include presentations by the members of the drying team (in Jepara) and practical sessions at PIKA training facilities in Semarang.
4. The SWOT Analysis of the furniture industry in Jepara has been undertaken that will enable the industry to focus on strengths, minimise weaknesses, address threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.
5. An important goal of the project has been the establishment of collaborative linkages with SMEs in Jepara. The project team believes that it is essential that the companies respond with trust and confidence to the project members and clearly understand the project’s objectives and related activities. This goal is being achieved through frequent consultations and discussions with the Industry Champions, consolidation meetings, field visits and training.
Abbreviations Used in the Report
ACIAR Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
UoM The University of Melbourne
DEEDI The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.
FORDA Forest Product Research and Development Center, Forestry Research and Development Agency, Ministry of Forestry
IPB Bogor Agricultural University
UGM Universitas Gadjah Mada
PIKA Technical College of Wood Technology
CIFOR Center for International Forestry Research
APKJ Jepara Small-scale Furniture Producers Association

The ACIAR Forestry RPM mid-term review was conducted on 30 October 2011 with the overall finding that “The project is progressing extremely well and is on track with almost all of its planned activities, which is very pleasing considering the complexity of the project design and number of partners (8 research partners and 16 private sector collaborators)”.
The 2nd Annual Workshop and Steering Committee meeting were held on 29-30 October 2011 in Jepara. FORDA Director General, Pak Fathoni, emphasized the priority that the Indonesian Government gives to this project.
Regular visits to the Industry Champions have been undertaken with the aim to implement the recommended improvements and changes in processing and production methods.
The project research activities conducted by five research teams; sawing, preservative treatment, drying, manufacturing and finishing, are progressing very well with significant achievements made which have been documented in reports, journal publications and conference proceeding and disseminated at the project workshop, training courses and in data sheets tailored for the industry. Some of the research studies are summarised below:
Sawing:
In-mill recovery studies were completed to provide benchmark data and a journal article. A review of metal detectors was completed and recommendations provided to the sector. The model regarded as most suitable assessed by cost, ease of use, portability and accuracy is now circulating in Industry Champion facilities.
The principles of lean management and waste minimisation as relevant to sawmilling practice were reviewed, summarised and translated for the benefit of the Industry Champions and other SMEs in Jepara.
A review of the availability and cost of personal protective equipment was undertaken by PIKA in an effort to implement a culture of safety awareness in the industry.
Preservative treatment:
Above ground field exposure trials were established in Australia to evaluate the performance of heat treated, clear finished teak and unfinished controls.
Work on timber treatment specifications within Indonesia is being investigated.
Options for equipment and chemicals for effective treatment of lyctus-susceptible timber was discussed with Industry Champion company Raisa.

Drying:
 A demonstration kiln has been constructed in Jepara.
 Drying trials have been conducted on four primary wood species from young plantation forests used in Jepara: teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia sp.), mindi (Melia azedarach), and trembesi (Samanea saman).
 Solar drying trials on preservative treated wood and kiln drying schedule development for a range of timbers are in progress.
 A study on the use of solar kilns in Indonesia has found that drying of timber using solar energy is feasible in the majority of Java. Given the low cost of solar kilns and the abundance of solar energy in the region, a moderately sized solar kiln (i.e. 22 m3) may be accessible for most SME furniture companies.

Manufacturing:
 The review of Indonesian and international standards related to furniture has been completed.
 Analysis of the current recovery rate in furniture production has been completed and documented.
 The development of database on alternative species has been completed and documented. The FORDA book “Alternative wood species for furniture and creative industry” presents data on 21 plantation/community forest species.
 Literature review on options for products made from low quality, small dimensions timbers is underway.
 Wood bending and gluing/laminating have been identified as the priority technologies for future implementation by the Industry Champions.
 A survey is being developed with the aim to identify design skills, design education and training available to furniture manufacturers in Jepara.
Finishing:
 Research study on ammonia fuming was completed and the results published.
 Trials on the application of oil based and water-based wood finishes were completed. Both finishes obtained good performance results with oil-based finish showing better resistance to mechanical damage.
 The investigation of the effect of heat treatment on wood properties and finishing quality is in progress.
By industry request a strong focus was placed on regular training activities and five training courses were held during the reporting period..
Collaborations between project participants have developed over the year with increasing networking and joint problem solving. It is particularly noted during research activities, training and technology transfer.

The project is now in the final year of its duration. During the last 12 months further progress was made towards achieving the objectives of the project. The team members are confident that the project’s goals will be achieved on time and the outcomes will assist small and medium furniture enterprises in Jepara to significantly improve the quality of their products and to become more efficient and skilled.
The major activities during the 4th year of the project term are as follows:
The 3rd Annual Workshop was held on 8 December 2012 in Jepara, attended by Dr. Iman Santoso, the Director General of FORDA, the project partners, invited stakeholders and 35 members of the Industry Champions and APKJ.
An extensive training program was developed by the project team aiming to increase skills and knowledge of the industry members in various aspects of wood processing and manufacturing. Each training course was well attended not only by Industry Champions and APKJ members but also by other SMEs in the Jepara region.
Regular implementation visits to the Industry Champions and APKJ companies have been carried out by the project team members with the aim to implement the recommended improvements and changes in processing and production methods
Some of the research studies are summarised below:
Sawing:
Research on girdling teak trees is in progress.
Wood machining characteristics from West Java and Banten were analysed on six species for five machining operations: planing, moulding, sanding, boring and peeling. Total percentage of defects was determined.
‘Quality Operations Manual on Sawing’ is in preparation.
Preservative treatment:
Research study on the durability of six furniture wood species from plantation forest against post powder beetle was completed.
The effectiveness of the current preservative treatment methods used by SMEs in Jepara was tested under laboratory conditions. It was found that timber which is treated with traditional preservative methods in Jepara is not protected against insects.
Research studies on wood durability of several wood species against subterranean termite attack were conducted.
Drying:
The signficant achievement of the drying activities was the completion of a demonstration drying chamber (kiln) for SMEs in Jepara, which was funded and supervised by PUSTEKOLAH team, FORDA. A small and affordable wood drying chamber (pilot project) with size (6 x 4 x 3) m3 was completed in August 2012.
Study on wood drying properties and development of drying schedules for six wood species from Community Forest in Banten Province was completed.
A study on the potential use of solar kilns in Indonesia indicates that drying of timber is feasible using solar energy in the majority of the locations studied around Java
Manufacturing:
Research on wood bending has made a very good progress.
Research on gluing/laminating properties of six furniture wood species from plantation forest has been completed.
A review of design skills in Jepara has been conducted.
A Furniture Design Competition has been initiated with the aim to identify good designers and to link them with furniture companies.
Finishing:
Two research studies on the durability of the water-based wood finishes coated on fast growing wood species were completed. In total seventeen species were tested. The test results showed that ammonia fumigation method increases the aesthetic value of wood (colour and pattern look natural) and increases durability of wood. In addition, a strong resistance of the finishing layer of the water-based lacquer was observed.
A research study has been completed, and the results published, on the determination of juvenile and mature transition ring for fast growing sengon (Paraserianthes falcataria) and jabon (Anthocephalus cadamba) timbers.
The investigation of the effect of heat treatment on wood properties and finishing quality has been carried out. Two types of heat treatment methods were used in this research, i.e. oven and steaming methods.
The project has made significant achievements in capacity building, mainly through the development of strong network linkages between education, research, training and the industry. During Year 4 a strong emphasis was placed on disseminating the project findings not only to the Industry Champions but also to APKJ members and other small and medium companies in the Jepara region.
It is believed that the network developed within the project will provide sustainable long-term capacity improvements which will provide significant benefits to the Jepara furniture industry.
The research results have been widely published in international scientific journals, conference proceedings and research reports and disseminated at the project workshop, training courses, project website, newsletters and in data sheets tailored for the industry.

The project is now in the final year of its duration. The completion date, originally due on 31 June 2014, has been extended by ACIAR until 31 December 2014, without additional funding, to allow for the completion of the project activities.
During the last 12 months further progress was made towards achieving the objectives of the project. An increased effort has been put into disseminating project research results through an extensive training program for Jepara companies, both Industry Champions and other companies (e.g. Jepara Small-Scale Furniture Producers Association APKJ members), developing technical manuals, guidelines and training materials as well as publications for international journals and conferences.
The major activities during the 5th year of the project term are as follows:
The 4th Project Annual Workshop was held in Jepara on 7 December 2013, attended by the project partners, invited stakeholders and 35 members of the Industry Champions and APKJ. The workshop allowed members and stakeholders to get an update on the project progress and discuss the priorities for the next year activities.
The Project Steering Committee meeting was held on 8 December 2013, at PIKA, Semarang. The meeting allowed the Committee members to discuss the project outputs and their benefits to the industry.
In total eight training courses were conducted on various topics selected by the industry as the priorities. Each training course was highly attended not only by Industry Champions and APKJ members but also by other SMEs in the Jepara region. Course notes were prepared for each participant in Bahasa Indonesia. Enthusiasm and positive feedback from the participants shows that the training program provided to date has been successful.
A book entitled “Furniture from plantation timber. A manual for furniture manufacturers in the Jepara region of Indonesia” has been completed. The manual of 220 pages is a series of eight guides, prepared in both English and Bahasa Indonesia, which covers critical aspects of the key stages of furniture production: sawmilling, drying, preserving (treating) timber, and manufacturing the final furniture products. The manual will contribute to improved processing efficiency, product quality and worker safety.
The performance of a demonstration drying chamber, constructed in 2012 for the Industry Champions and APKJ is being tested and monitored on continuous basis. The kiln is being used by a group of 5 - 10 SMEs. A similar kiln but of a larger capacity has been recently built by the company which manages the kiln to dry timber for their own and other SMEs needs.
A Furniture Design Competition has been successfully completed. The aim of the competition was to identify good designers and link them with furniture companies. The competition included two categories of designers: professional designers (task - to design a chair) and students (a coffee table). The competition was open to all participants from Central Java province, including Yogyakarta. In total 22 submissions were received and three winners from each category were selected. The first and second winners of each category were awarded with an intensive furniture design training at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
An impact assessment of the project has been undertaken by a team from CIFOR. The study was conducted to obtain empirical validation on the effectiveness of the project in achieving its goals. According to the study’s results, the companies involved in the survey reported an increase in sales turnover by 40% after attending various training courses, and their income has increased by about 50%. The data indicates positive economic impact of the project on the development of furniture industry in Jepara.
The project team is confident that the project will have substantial outcomes which will provide significant improvements in SMEs capacity in the utilization of plantation timber for furniture production in the Jepara region.

Collaborating Institutions
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Forest Research and Development Agency, Indonesia
Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia
Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
Technical College of Wood Technology, Indonesia
Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia
Forum Rembug Kluster, Indonesia
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

The furniture industry is one of the ‘big four’ Indonesian pillars for export (along with rubber, palm oil, and footwear). The industry relies heavily on timber as its raw material, with an annual requirement of up to 7.5 million cubic metres. Wood species used as raw material for furniture (mainly teak and mahogany) come from natural forest and plantation/community forests. Jepara in Java is particularly known for its crafted wooden furniture, and the industry there involves 15,000 companies, mostly small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). But the furniture manufacturing processes in Jepara, as in other regions of Indonesia, are characterised by poor production management and lack of optimisation in production systems - affecting production efficiency, timber recovery rates, and quality of products while creating a significant amount of timber waste. These SMEs would capture higher value if they adopted better drying, treatment and finishing processes, and this project aims to support the Indonesian furniture industry by enhancing value-adding from plantation timber production. The project’s main objectives are to increase timber recoveries and furniture quality through the improvement of processing and manufacturing methods for teak and mahogany timbers, and to explore new manufacturing technologies for new products and designs that would be competitive on international markets. As well the project will increase Indonesian timber processing research and training capacity and also monitor and analyse economic impact of improvements and innovations introduced to SMEs during the project.

Project Budget
$1,097,209.00
Grant Report Value
$1206930
Grant Report Recipient
University of Melbourne
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
3121
Grant Report Finish Date
31/12/2014
Grant Report Start Date
19/12/2008

Mariculture development in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

Project Leader
Professor Paul Southgate
Email
paul.southgate@usc.edu.au
Fax
07 3408 3535
Phone
07 54301234
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
FIS/2010/054
Start Date
01/05/2012
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
CH-202510-57539
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
30/04/2016
Extension Start Date
01/05/2016
Commissioned Organisation: 
James Cook University, Australia
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Extension Finish Date
30/09/2016
Overview Collaborators
  • National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • University of Natural Resources and Environment, Papua New Guinea
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Chris Barlow
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The first project meeting took place at the Nago Island Marine Research Facility (NIMRF) in Kavieng in June 2012. Roles and responsibilities for partner institutions were reviewed and agreed upon, and a Project steering committee was established to meet on a six-monthly basis. The meeting reviewed the facilities and equipment required at the NIMRF to support project research and a plan and timetable for fitting-out and fine-tuning the NIMRF was developed. A number of key facilities were developed at NIMRF in preparation for the first hatchery run with sea cucumber in October 2012. These include a dry laboratory, micro-algae culture laboratory, a more efficient water supply and reticulation system and defined hatchery culture and quarantine areas within the NIMRF. Equipment required to fit-out the laboratories was sourced and deployed. These activities were assisted by appointment of the Project Scientist, Rowan McIntyre, in July 2012, who took up his position in Kavieng in October 2012. A formal project inception meeting was held at NIMRF in November 2012.
A major focus for project research so far has been hatchery production of sea cucumbers. Three hatchery runs have been made with two of them successfully producing juveniles. These results are encouraging given the expected teething problems associated with a new hatchery facility. Extensive water quality and bacterial testing have been conducted during hatchery runs and the results used to fine-tune the water delivery system at NIMRF. Hatchery-produced juvenile sea cucumbers were used to establish a community-run grow-out pen at a collaborating village (Limanak) to enable collection of long-term growth data and involve villagers with husbandry and field-based culture activities. Several additional community study sites have been assessed and negotiations commenced to establish project activities there. Research to determine the genetic structure of sand fish populations in the Kavieng region, and within a broader regional context, has begun. The results will be used to develop a protocol for responsible transfer of sand fish, which will become an important consideration should hatchery production become established.
A primary site for spat collection of edible oysters was identified and a long-tem spat collection program was established in April 2013. The spat collection program will be expanded to other sites over the next 12 months and resulting spat will be used to establish growth trials at a number of sites around Kavieng. At least two species of edible oysters recruit to hard substrates around Kavieng. Confirmation of the target species as the black-lip oyster (Saccostrea echinata) and identification of the second is required. A value-chain and business case study was begun in May 2013 to determine potential markets for cultured oysters beyond the Kavieng area.
A review of the marine ornamental industry in PNG was completed in 2012 to identify the main markets, key species and bottlenecks to further industry development. There is clear international demand for fish and coral from PNG (particularly endemic species or forms) but issues relating to transport, both domestic and international, remain an impediment. A survey of high-value marine ornamental species in the Kavieng area, that may support captive breeding programs, was begun in May 2013. A value-chain and business case study was begun concurrently to determine potential markets for marine ornamental from the Kavieng area, and to identify key components of the value-chains for these commodities.
Building long term institutional mariculture training capacity and mariculture capacity within NFA, provincial fisheries, NGOs and local communities is a major component of this project. Numerous training activities have been conducted with project partners covering both generic research skills and specific laboratory- and field-based mariculture skills. Training activities will increase over the next 12 months of the project as the scope of research with all target commodities increases. Consultation meetings between National Fisheries College (NFC), University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) and James Cook University (JCU) were held in early 2013 to establish priorities for curriculum development at NFC and UNRE. A working paper was developed as a basis for further consultation later in 2013. This process will be facilitated through an Australian Volunteer for International Development (AVID) position linked to the project which was taken up in March 2013.
In summary, a considerable proportion of the first year of this project has been dedicated to equipping and preparation of the new NIMRF for mariculture research and hatchery production. Preliminary hatchery runs with sea cucumbers have been successful in producing juveniles but, perhaps more importantly, have allowed fine-tuning of the system to support more efficient future hatchery production. Progress in all components of the project has been good and strong collaborative links have been made between project partners and with local communities and NGOs. These activities will provide a strong platform for research in the second year of the project.

The second year of this project has required on-going modification of the Nago Island Mariculture and Research Facility (NIMRF) water flow system to better support project research. Fine-tuning of a newly constructed marine research facility is not unexpected. Issues relating to system design, water supply and quality and useability are commonly ironed out once the facility becomes operational and the level of use increases. While longer-term modifications to the system have been identified and will be on-going, the NIMRF system is now well set-up to support hatchery production of invertebrates and live foods culture, broodstock and juvenile husbandry, and ornamental fish breeding. As a result, significant progress has been made with the land-based components of this project, particularly hatchery production of sea cucumbers and breeding of ornamental reef fish (clownfish).
Over the past year, hatchery production of sea cucumbers at NIMRF has become routine and reliable with three hatchery runs completed and each producing thousands of juveniles for release into the wild. Sea-based nursery culture (in bag nets and sea pens) has increased as a result of improved availability of sandfish juveniles. There is insufficient land-based capacity at NIMRF to on-grow small juveniles to an ideal release size of >3 g and a practical and effective ocean-nursery system is therefore required to produce commercial quantities of larger juveniles. To address this, juveniles from recent hatchery runs have been reared in ocean-based bag nets similar to those used in the Philippines (sea) and Vietnam (ponds). Results indicate that the use of this type of nursery system will be confined to sites with specific characteristics (habitat, water quality and ocean conditions) and will not be suitable for all communities. On this basis, ocean nursery will not simply be an early release of juveniles to the care of the community (although this will be possible in some locations) but an extension of the hatchery phase. A tentative model is that juveniles will be transferred to ocean nurseries for accelerated grow-out to a minimum size of 3 g and then distributed to communities for release into the suitable habitats under their ownership or right of access. In addition to initial ocean nursery experiments established at the village of Limanak, two new villages, Ungakum and Enuk, are now involved in project research. All are involved in a new release experiment run collaboratively with research partners in the Philippines, northern Australia and Vietnam as part of FIS/2010/042. Investigations into the socio-economic aspects of sea cucumber mariculture have two components: community member interviews and trial sea-pen husbandry. In the latter, the first cohort of hatchery-produced juvenile sandfish was transferred into nine 25 m2 pens at Limanak, where they are attended by individual family-groups. This research will examine how community groups manage pen culture; sea cucumber growth and environmental parameters within the pens will be monitored by Project staff. Research has confirmed that there are no differences in the genetic structure of sandfish populations in the Kavieng region. In practical terms, this means that broodstock and their hatchery-produced progeny can be responsibly transferred between sites within the project area without concerns about genetic differences.

A primary site for collection of edible oyster spat was established at the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) wharf in Kavieng. This site has high natural recruitment of oysters and restricted public access. However, very low numbers of spat recruited to spat collectors during much of the past year and damage to collectors resulted from strong wave action and other factors. Changes made to the spat collecting system to reduce these problems resulted in the first significant numbers of spat recruiting to collectors in February, March and April, 2014. The species recruiting are Saccostrea cucullata and S. mordax. Assisted by a partner Non-governmental Organisation (NGO, Ailan Awareness) other suitable spat collection and grow-out sites for edible oysters have been identified and negotiations with landowners are underway. Generally poor recruitment to spat collector during the past year has limited the extent to which growth trials could be established. A grow-out trial conducted at the main NFA wharf site with spat collected in early 2014 experienced close to 100 % mortality as a result of predation by Cymatium sp. A modified inspection and sampling protocol will be developed for future oyster culture trials. A value-chain and business case study into the feasibility of commercial oyster culture in Kavieng was begun in May 2013. Completion of this assessment will require more information on recruitment, growth rates and culture inputs

A comprehensive species survey of coral reef fish with aquarium potential was conducted in June 2013 with a focus on identifying high-value species in the Kavieng area. A value-chain and business case study was begun concurrently to determine potential markets for marine ornamental from the Kavieng area, and to identify key components within the value-chains for these commodities. Preliminary indications are that a major bottleneck to development of an aquarium export industry in Kavieng is that of restricted transport or freight options. However, full assessment of this potential requires data from NFA relating to prior aquarium export activities, and this has not yet been made available. Several members of the subfamily Amphiprioninae (clownfish) were identified to have regionally endemic phenotypes representing a high-value commodity in the aquarium trade. A second, more detailed, survey focusing exclusively on this group of fish is planned for July 2014. Construction of larval rearing facilities at NIMRF was completed in May 2014. Thirty-six pairs of clownfish were collected in October 2013 from the Kavieng Lagoon and are currently maintained at NIMRF. Appropriate husbandry and culture parameters for broodstock have been determined for 7 species of clownfish with several broodstock pairs now spawning reliably in captivity at NIMRF. Although importation of live food organisms (rotifers) necessary for larval culture has proven problematic (quarantine issues), production of larvae and juveniles of key species is expected to be achieved by November 2014.

Building long term institutional mariculture training capacity and mariculture capacity within NFA, Provincial Fisheries Officers, NGOs and local communities is a major component of this project. Numerous training activities, covering both generic research skills and specific laboratory- and field-based mariculture skills, have been conducted with project partners. Training activities will increase over the next 12 months of the project as the scope of research with all target commodities increases. Consultation meetings between National Fisheries College (NFC), University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) and James Cook University (JCU) were held to establish priorities for curriculum development. An Aquaculture Training Package which meets the requirements of the National Training Council (NTC) was developed and will be endorsed by the Fisheries Training and Advisory Committee (FTAC) at its annual meeting later this year.
In summary, a considerable proportion of the second year of this project has been dedicated to further improving the hatchery and culture systems at the NIMRF facility. The facility now provides a basis for routine hatchery production of sea cucumber and the breeding of a number of species of clownfish. Field-based research activities have also expanded during the past year with a number of village-based sites establish for sea cucumber culture, development of more appropriate spat collection methods for edible oysters and commencement of oyster growth trials. Progress in all components of the project has been good and strong collaborative links have been made between project partners and with local communities and NGOs. These activities will provide a strong platform for continued research in the third year of the project.

Ongoing modification of the Nago Island Mariculture Research Facility (NIMRF) over the past year includes extension of general indoor and outdoor culture facilities supporting replicated experiments with larvae and juveniles, and additional raceways. A seawater pond has been constructed to hold adult sea cucumbers and for juvenile rearing experiments. Facility developments were made collaboratively with NFA to support ongoing project activities. Improved reticulation provides a more reliable water supply to culture tanks and supports routine production of target species and expansion of project activities.
Hatchery production of sea cucumbers continued with three successful hatchery runs. A standard hatchery protocol has been developed for sea cucumbers that supports routine production of juveniles. Simplification of the larval rearing protocol at NIMRF by replacing live micro-algae with commercial micro-algae pastes as a larval food source is an important development that eliminates many technical constraints often associated with hatchery production. A hatchery culture manual was developed for training purposes. Land-based husbandry of juveniles has become a bottleneck to production of release-sized sea cucumber juveniles at NIMRF. More research is required to address this issue which will be a major focus of experimentation in the final year of the project.
There are now three local communities engaged with sandfish grow-out trials. Two (Ungakum and Enuk) have hapa nets for first stage nursery culture of 3-30 cm juveniles transferred from larval rearing tanks. More research is required to improve survival and to reduce the time taken for hatchery produced juveniles to reach release size of >3 grams. Three communities also host 100 m2 sea pens for juvenile culture and growth, survival and biophysical parameters are regularly monitored. These data are collected using protocols that are standardised with those used in similar ACIAR funded research in the Philippines, northern Australia and Vietnam FIS/2010/042: “”Expansion and Diversification of Production and management Systems for Sea Cucumbers in the Philippines, Vietnam and northern Australia”
. They contribute to a multi-country, broad-scale experiment to identify optimum sea ranching habitats for sandfish. After 12 months, one culture pen at Limanak supported exceptionally high growth and survival of sandfish juveniles (compared to that reported in similar studies), two pens have performed well (on par with other studies) and one pen has suffered total mortality. Important information on the key biophysical parameters which drive growth has being collected. Multivariate analysis of bio-physical factors clearly separated the sea pen habitats, strongly differentiating the best-performing site from the others. Both hapas and sea pens are cared for by community wardens who liaise with project staff. Socio-economic data continue to be collected on past wild fishery practices with respect to sea cucumber, community-based fishery management and attitudes towards mariculture.
A primary site for spat collection of edible oysters was identified and the long-term spat collection program established in 2013 has continued. Collector design has been modified to better suit local conditions. PVC slats covered in a cement/lime slurry supported greater recruitment and better handling than other collector types and have been adopted as a ‘standard’ across all project sites. Other collector types that use locally available materials have also been assessed. The NFA wharf is still the main site for spat collection and oyster growth trials but research has been extended to two community sites (Losogul (Manne) and Panopai) over the past year. However, relatively poor recruitment to spat collectors has limited the extent to which growth trials could be established. A grow-out trial was conducted at the main NFA wharf site, but oysters suffered close to 100% mortality in all treatments over a month-long period through predation by Cymatium gastropods that recruit to oyster culture units. A follow-up trial was conducted using subtidal baskets on the floating pontoon at NIMRF and, after 9 months, Saccostrea cucullata spat reached an average weight of 3.75 g while S. mytiloides spat reached 9-16 g after 8 months. Survival of both was relatively low at around 40%. When S. cucullata spat were deployed in intertidal baskets at Losogul and Panopai, those at Panopai performed better and reached an average weight of 3.45 g after 6 months with a survival of 95%. Ongoing husbandry research will focus on the Panopai site although poor recruitment of oyster spat to collectors at all sites limits the scope of such research. Hatchery production of S. cucculata at NIMRF will be considered in the final year of the project.
Several members of the Amphiprioninae (clownfish) were identified to have regionally endemic phenotypes representing a high-value commodity in the aquarium trade and a total of 36 pairs of clownfish are currently being maintained at NIMRF by NFA staff. Appropriate husbandry and culture parameters for broodstock have been determined for seven species of clownfish with several broodstock pairs now spawning in captivity at NIMRF, including the two most commercially important species, Amphiprion percula and Premnas biaculeatus. In December 2014, NFA staff achieved survival of 85% for A. percula cultured to market size (3 months of age) and pairs of F1 offspring have been established for this species. Key coral species of significance to the aquarium trade were identified during a local species survey including several high-value species. Culture of key species has proven to be reliable in land-based culture systems at NIMRF. Aesthetically pleasing propagation substrates can now be produced on-site using local materials and experiments are currently underway to determine optimal culture parameters for three key species of Acropora in land based culture. Successful field-based culture of corals around NIMRF has proved challenging and suboptimal culture conditions resulted in large scale mortality. New sites have been identified for a second field-based culture trial in 2015.
Aquaculture curriculum development at the NFA National Fisheries College (NFC) has progressed via an Aquaculture Training Package (ATP) which meets the requirements of the National Training Council (NTC) and will be endorsed by the Fisheries Training and Advisory Committee (FTAC) later this year. Specific lesson plans have been developed for the ATP and an Aquaculture Instructor has been recruited by NFA to begin implementing and delivering the ATP through the NFC and NIMRF. A series of best practice booklets have been developed for aquaculture operations with a focus on NIMRF activities, including a hatchery manual for sandfish and ornamental fish. Similar manuals for other target commodities at NIMRF will be developed. Further consultation meetings between relevant training institutions have focused on possible mechanisms for broader capacity building in Aquaculture including institutional ‘twinning’ arrangements. These will be further developed in the final year of the project.

Over the past year there have been regular visits to NIMRF by project staff, commodity specialists and research students that have worked directly with NFA/NIMRF staff. Community members from Limanak, Ungakum, Belifu and Enuk have received training on field-based sea cucumbers culture, survey techniques and data collection, and one or two community members from three of these communities have been engaged to look after ocean nursery culture systems for sea cucumbers. Community members from all village sites have visited the NIMRF hatchery during operation and were given a live demonstration on aspects of life-cycle and culture methods. Short handouts have been developed to assist community awareness of field-based research activities with sea cucumbers and oysters. Both were developed through consultation with a partner local NGO (Ailan Awareness) and translated into Tokpisin. Larger more comprehensive extension materials will be developed to support future project activities. Regular community meeting are held to disseminate project research results and key points are delivered using a Tokspisin handout.

Collaborating Institutions
National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
University of Natural Resources and Environment, Papua New Guinea
Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

This project aims to provide a sustainable basis for development of a mariculture sector in Papua New Guinea and to build capacity within country partner organisations to support this development.
Papua New Guinea’s vast coastline supports numerous communities that depend on marine resources for their livelihoods. Communities do not take advantage of the economic and livelihood opportunities the coastline provides. Fishery resources have been affected, and the sea cucumber fishery, which was the main village-based fishery generating significant export income, has collapsed. In response, the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) implemented a nationwide moratorium. Economic activities are needed as alternatives to the sea cucumber fishery to provide livelihood opportunities for coastal communities in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea has no tradition of mariculture, so few people are aware of other possibilities. The recently completed NFA Nago Island marine hatchery and training facility at Kavieng can help to develop mariculture opportunities. Mariculture development in Papua New Guinea needs to build capacity and to identify local species that can support viable, sustainable mariculture industries for coastal communities.
This project partners with NFA and its National Fisheries College in Kavieng to address this, and to develop a strategy to strengthen Papua New Guinea’s institutional mariculture training capacity long-term.

Project Budget
$1,823,408.00
Grant Report Value
$2005749
Grant Report Recipient
University of the Sunshine Coast
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
4811
Grant Report Finish Date
30/09/2016
Grant Report Start Date
03/04/2012

Development of fish passage technology to increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong and Murray - Darling River basins

Project Leader
Dr Lee Baumgartner
Email
lbaumgartner@csu.edu.au
Fax
61 26059 7531
Phone
61 427 070 056 mob
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
FIS/2009/041
Start Date
01/10/2010
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
JM-200107-40967
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Final Progress Report

Background
River infrastructure, including dams, weirs and floodplain regulators are becoming increasingly used worldwide for food security and power generation. Any structure used to alter hydrology has inevitable environmental impacts; especially on fisheries sustainability. Construction of riverine infrastructure has been implicated in fisheries declines globally. The majority of structures block access to important spawning, feeding and nursery habitat thus preventing the completion of important life history stages. Fish need to move upstream, downstream and laterally, so it is important that any development activities allow fish to complete essential migrations.
Globally, fishways have been used to provide connectivity at riverine infrastructure which creates fish migration barriers. Fishways are a channel around or through a migration barrier which allow fish to move volitionally. Many designs are available to facilitate fish passage, but applying designs that have been developed for other species can lead to sub-optimal solutions that can limit recovery outcomes. It is important that any fish passage solution is based on the sound knowledge of local species and that design characteristics have been well formulated through scientific investigations.
The Lower Mekong basin is facing an unprecedented level of irrigation development. Many dams, weirs and regulators are being constructed on an annual basis and there are substantial concerns for the welfare of fisheries resources. There was little information available on (1) the level of current development; (2) information available on potential fish passage mitigation options or (3) social and economic impacts and benefits of maintaining fish passage. This project sought to address some of these knowledge gaps through the application of structured field research.
Project activities
The project sought to primarily develop the first criteria for fish passage developed for Lower Mekong species but also understand the extent of current irrigation development and quantify potential social and economic benefits. A series of field-based assessments was devised to specifically answer three research questions:
1. What is the current extent of floodplain development in Central and Southern Laos?
2. Can effective low-cost fishways be constructed to mitigate the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of floodplain regulators?
3. Does the construction of permanently-operating fishways provide quantifiable social, economic and environmental benefits to floodplain wetlands and communities?
The first question involved using a combination of desktop and field validation techniques to effectively enumerate, document and map fish passage barriers throughout two key catchments. The overall outcome was to generate a prioritised list that could be presented to donor bodies and investment banks to guide future restoration investment.
Question two was more focused on developing mitigation options for fish passage that could be applied at the range of identified and mapped barriers. A series of field experiments was devised to define the characteristics of fish passage that were preferred by Lower Mekong species. These characteristics were then used to construct a permanent demonstration fishway which was assessed to determine if it was possible to rehabilitate a floodplain wetland fishery.
The final question sought to determine whether it was possible to quantify if the fishway contributed to positive social and economic outcomes. These were assessed in two major ways. Firstly, to determine the overall value of the fishery to local communities. Secondly, to determine any perceived or real benefits arising from fishery recovery.
Achievements and new knowledge
Over 7,500 barriers to fish migration were mapped across two catchments; the Xe Bang Fai and Xe Champhone. Detailed characteristics of each barrier were documented and used to populate detailed geographic information systems databases. A prioritised list was generated and has been used to guide further investment opportunities in these catchments. The approach created a strong visual tool for highlighting the overall issue being addressed, which had been used in Australia with significant success
The project team developed the first design criteria, and fishway, for Lower Mekong species. The team demonstrated that an experimental in-situ approach was entirely appropriate for refining design criteria. Working with actual migrating fish in the field provided data that was unbiased from handling or laboratory effects. Fish were motivated to migrate which provided results that were directly applicable to effective design assessment. Constructing the first fishway designed for Lower Mekong species was a substantial achievement. Designed and built by the project team, with assistance from local labourers and contractors, the structure has provided passage for 177 fish species. Species passing through the fishway included three IUCN red-listed species, In addition, a range of larger catfish species was captured, mainly at night, providing hard information on the migratory habits of these species for the first time. Detailed information was also collected on small-bodied species, and also juveniles of large-bodied species entering nursery habitat. These are all new information that will help to advance the knowledge and management of Mekong species into the future.
Socio economic surveys demonstrated that wetland fisheries are valued by local communities but were perceived to have declined substantially since regulator construction. Overall the community felt that fishway construction was a positive outcome but also indicated that a strong management process will need to be in place to ensure long term success. Minimising overfishing, restoring habitat and implementing strategies to improve water quality were seen as valuable complementary actions to improve fisheries productivity. A survey following fishway construction revealed that fishers had caught species not observed for many years, indicating positive impacts.
Conclusions and recommendations
Developing robust fish passage outcomes requires an integrated and long term approach. Implementing a strategy that sought to identify the scale of riverine development, develop a widely applicable solution and also capture social and economic benefits was a sound approach that had wider support from government and investment agencies. Using migrating fish, under field conditions, to develop design criteria was a key factor contributing to project success. In fact, these design criteria have already been used to facilitate the construction of eleven other fishways in Southern Laos, under the auspices of the Lao Irrigation Department with funding from the World Bank.
In future work, it is strongly recommended that the project team disseminates the results widely to both government and donor bodies to improve opportunities for uptake at other sites. It is also important that barrier mapping work be continued in other key catchments to increase the spatial understanding of existing infrastructure development. Combining this information with an inventory of planned construction would provide a powerful tool for future investment opportunities.
Finally, it is recommended that any future fish passage work use local villagers and labourers as key project team members. Locals provided invaluable insights into regional issues. Their support and participation were key factors contributing to overall success.

Finish Date
30/09/2015
Commissioned Organisation: 
Industry & Investment NSW, Australia
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
Industry & Investment NSW, Australia
Overview Collaborators
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • National University of Laos, Laos
  • Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, Laos
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Chris Barlow
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

1.1 Background
The Murray-Darling Basin and the Mekong are two of the world’s major catchment systems. They drain similar areas, are both over 4,000km in total length and support over 60 million people combined. Both systems contain unique fish communities which are importance sources of biodiversity, food security and recreational opportunities. The Murray-Darling Basin has an active recreational fishery estimated to be worth between $AUD750K - 1,000K annually. The current annual production from the capture fishery in the LMB is about two million tonnes, which is approximately 2% of the total world marine and freshwater catch with a first-sale value between US$2,000-4,000 million per year.
Irrigation development in Australia and Lao P.D.R. has led to construction of numerous water regulation devices (over 10,000 in both countries) which limit migratory fish movement. Movements of fish (and other aquatic animals) between rivers and floodplains is subsequently restricted, or may be entirely prevented, and this has led to severe declines in fish production in many areas. Fisheries agencies in both countries are interested in increasing capacity to design manage and operate fish passage facilities on new and existing low-level water control structures in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of fish resources in each country.
This project seeks to undertake research and development activities that provide quantifiable evidence that fishway construction provides positive benefits floodplain fish species in the Lower Mekong and Murray-Darling Basins. A project team has been assembled which comprises scientists from New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, National University of Laos and Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre.
1.2 Inception Activities
The project has had an extended inception phase with has seen the initiation of three main objectives.
1.2.1 Analyse and prioritise infrastructure causing fish migration barriers to lateral migrations between the Mekong River and floodplain habitat
A preliminary prioritisation of all fish migration barriers in the Xe Champone catchment was completed. The purpose of this component was to provide a detailed list of potential rehabilitation works for consideration by donor bodies looking to identify areas of future investment. The work required an initial desktop phase which was followed by field validation of actual barriers using GIS-based technology. The team collected a large dataset which is currently undergoing detailed analysis and prioritisation. This will be reported and presented to donor bodies in early 2012.
1.2.2 Research the effectiveness of low-costs fishways for widespread application at floodplain barriers in the lower Mekong basin and the Murray-Darling Basin
The project team successfully progressed the construction and installation of an experimental fishway unit at a new experimental site in Savannakhet province. The unit was constructed under the supervision of Lao PDR and Australian scientists but was constructed and installed by local labour. Work was completed in late May 2011 and Australian scientists have now arrived in Lao PDR to perform field experiments during the Lao wet season (May-August 2011).
1.1.1 Quantify the biological, ecological and socio-economic benefits of floodplain rehabilitation using fish passage technology to mitigate impacts
A detailed socio-economic survey design workshop was held at Charles Sturt University in March 2011. The outcome of the workshop was the preparation of a draft survey instrument due to be piloted with villages in Bolikhamsay province in June 2011. The team also planned a detailed training schedule for university students who will be engaged to undertake the surveys. Surveys are currently being translated into local language for implementation.
1.2 Overall progress
So far the project is on-schedule and tracking to meet all scheduled objectives. No major problems have arisen and the project team have formed a strong collaboration. The project has attracted media and government interest in both Lao PDR and Australia. Outputs due for publication in the international literature are also expected to increase the project profile lead to scientific impacts in other tropical systems.

1.1 Background
The Murray-Darling Basin and the Mekong are two of the world’s major catchment systems. They drain similar areas, are both over 4,000km in total length and support over 60 million people combined. Both systems contain unique fish communities which are importance sources of biodiversity, food security and recreational opportunities. The Murray-Darling Basin has an active recreational fishery estimated to be worth between $AUD750K - 1,000K annually. The current annual production from the capture fishery in the LMB is about two million tonnes, which is approximately 2% of the total world marine and freshwater catch with a first-sale value between US$2,000-4,000 million per year.
Irrigation development in Australia and Lao P.D.R. has led to construction of numerous water regulation devices (over 10,000 in both countries) which limit migratory fish movement. Movements of fish (and other aquatic animals) between rivers and floodplains is subsequently restricted, or may be entirely prevented, and this has led to severe declines in fish production in many areas. Fisheries agencies in both countries are interested in increasing capacity to design manage and operate fish passage facilities on new and existing low-level water control structures in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of fish resources in each country.
This project seeks to undertake research and development activities that provide quantifiable evidence that fishway construction provides positive benefits floodplain fish species in the Lower Mekong and Murray-Darling Basins. A project team has been assembled which comprises scientists from New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, National University of Laos and Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre.
1.2 Inception Activities
The project has had an extended inception phase with has seen the initiation of three main objectives.
1.2.1 Analyse and prioritise infrastructure causing fish migration barriers to lateral migrations between the Mekong River and floodplain habitat
A preliminary prioritisation of all fish migration barriers in the Xe Champone and Xe Bang Hieng catchment was completed. The purpose of this component was to provide a detailed list of potential rehabilitation works for consideration by donor bodies looking to identify areas of future investment. The work required an initial desktop phase which was followed by field validation of actual barriers using GIS-based technology. The team collected a large dataset which is currently undergoing detailed analysis and prioritisation. We identified over 3,000 barriers to fish migration in the two catchments and presented these results to a project progress meeting in Vientiane (January 2012). The work was very widely received and is presently being considered by the Mekong River Commission for adoption to the entire catchment in all riparian countries. The project team has been asked to assist with a framework development which is currently being prepared by the MRC Fisheries Programme.
1.2.2 Research the effectiveness of low-costs fishways for widespread application at floodplain barriers in the lower Mekong basin and the Murray-Darling Basin
The project team successfully progressed the construction and installation of an experimental fishway unit at a new experimental site in Savannakhet province. The unit was constructed under the supervision of Lao PDR and Australian scientists but was constructed and installed by local labour. Work was completed in late May 2011 and Australian scientists performed field experiments during the Lao wet season (May-August 2011). Unfortunately the wet season arrived late and results on fishway success were inconclusive.
The project team subsequently re-established the experimental fishway site at Pak Peung (Central Lao) and have re-commended experiments. Initial results have been extremely promising with the team averaging catches of 200 fish per hour from up to 20 species per replicate. Work will continue well into the wet season and results will be analysed and presented upon completion.
1.2.3 Quantify the biological, ecological and socio-economic benefits of floodplain rehabilitation using fish passage technology to mitigate impacts

A detailed socio-economic survey was facilitated by Charles Sturt University and National University of Lao in September 2011. The team also planned a detailed training schedule for university students who will be engaged to undertake the surveys. Surveys were translated into local language for implementation and preliminary results were presented at a national fishway workshop.
1.3 Overall progress
So far the project is on-schedule and tracking to meet all scheduled objectives. No major problems have arisen and the project team have formed a strong collaboration. The project has attracted media and government interest in both Lao PDR and Australia. Outputs due for publication in the international literature are also expected to increase the project profile lead to scientific impacts in other tropical systems.

Analyse and prioritise infrastructure causing fish migration barriers to lateral migrations between the Mekong River and floodplain habitat
Detailed Mapping of fish migration barriers in the Xe Bang Hieng, Xe Champone and Nam Ngum catchments have been completed (Figure 1; Figure 2; Figure 3). Reports have also been produced outlining the prioritisation of barriers within the Xe Bang Hieng and Xe Champhone and the rehabilitation options available for the highest priority barriers. The purpose of this component is to provide a detailed list of potential rehabilitation works for consideration by donor bodies looking to identify areas of future investment. The top three barriers identified for rehabilitation works within the Xe Champone catchment have now been finalised (Figure 4, Figure 5 and Figure 6). The work required an initial desktop phase which was followed by field validation of actual barriers using GIS-based technology. The team collected a large dataset which is currently undergoing detailed analysis and prioritisation. We identified over 4,000 barriers to fish migration in the three catchments. The work has been very widely received as The World Bank and Mekong River Commission have funded extensions of the projects barrier mapping methods to other catchments including the Xe Bang Fei (Laos) and Stung Chinut (Cambodia). The project team has been asked to assist with a framework development which is currently being prepared by the MRC Fisheries Programme.
The World Bank have progressed this via direct contract to an external provider with the objective of generating a list of potential sites for development projects. The list will be used as a guide for investment. This is a direct result of initial mapping work conducted from this project.
Research the effectiveness of low-costs fishways for widespread application at floodplain barriers in the lower Mekong basin and the Murray-Darling Basin
During the 2013 wet season from May to July both Lao and Australian project staff assessed the effectiveness of the first permanent demonstration fishway constructed at Pak Peung wetland regulator (Figure 7; Figure 8; Figure 9). Diurnal sampling was conducted with a total of 43 days completed. The second round of fishway assessment will take place during the 2014 wet season from May to July. The 2014 fishway assessment will allow a considerable amount of time for fish to swim freely into the wetland. It is important that this occurs so the positive outcomes of the demonstration fishway can be realised through future socio-economic surveys. Results from both 2013 and 2014 fishway assessments will be prepared as both a technical report and scientific manuscript and used to justify the construction of other fishways throughout the Lower Mekong Basin.
Quantify the biological, ecological and socio-economic benefits of floodplain rehabilitation using fish passage technology to mitigate impacts
The socio-economic baseline survey results from 2011 were combined with the additional 2012 results and presented at the annual project meeting in Vientiane, August 2013 (Figure 10). No socio-economic surveys were conducted in 2013. The next socio-economic survey will be conducted in November 2014 and will be facilitated by Charles Sturt University, LARReC and NUOL staff and students. The overall benefits arising from the socio-economic work will be to track villager perception to the overall benefits from fishway construction. The work will demonstrate that species have recolonised the wetland, whether the villagers see the project as successful and whether livelihoods have improved as a direct result of fishway construction.
Overall progress
The project is on-schedule to be completed within the original timeframe meeting all planned objectives, activities and outcomes. No major problems have arisen and the project team have formed a strong collaboration. The project has attracted media and government interest in both Lao PDR and Australia. We have had the opportunity to present the project at international conferences, to high level government officials, to NGO meetings and via various organised workshops. Outputs due for publication in the international literature are also expected to increase the project profile leading to scientific impacts in other tropical systems.

Collaborating Institutions
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
National University of Laos, Laos
Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, Laos
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

The catchments of the Murray-Darling Basin and the Mekong drain similar areas. Both systems contain unique fish communities that are important sources of biodiversity, food security and recreational opportunities. But irrigation development in both Australia and Lao PDR has led to construction of numerous water regulation devices that limit migratory fish movement, and in many areas this has led to severe declines in fish production. Previous research in Australia and Lao PDR has demonstrated that there are fish-passage technologies with the potential to aid the movement of migratory fish past low-level (less than 6-metre) barriers. Fisheries agencies in both countries are thus interested in increasing capacity to design, manage and operate fish passage facilities on new and existing low-level water control structures. This project will identify and prioritise water infrastructure that creates migration barriers to lateral fish migrations between the Mekong River, its tributaries and floodplain habitat and undertake research to determine the effectiveness of low-cost fishways for widespread application at floodplain barriers in the lower Mekong basin. The researchers will also quantify the biological, ecological and socio-economic benefits of floodplain rehabilitation using fish passage technology to increase awareness and uptake of low-cost mitigation measures.

Project Budget
$1,837,834.00
Grant Report Value
$2021617
Grant Report Recipient
Industry & Investment NSW
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
2700
Grant Report Finish Date
30/09/2015
Grant Report Start Date
19/08/2010

Increasing production from inland aquaculture in Papua New Guinea for food and income security

Project Leader
Dr Jesmond Sammut
Email
j.sammut@unsw.edu.au
Fax
02 9385 1558
Phone
02 9385 8281
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
FIS/2008/023
Start Date
01/04/2010
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
NM-202307-56047
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
31/03/2014
Extension Start Date
01/04/2014
Commissioned Organisation: 
University of New South Wales, Australia
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
University of New South Wales, Faculty of Science, Australia
Extension Finish Date
30/06/2016
Overview Collaborators
  • National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Papua New Guinea
  • Highland Aquaculture Development Centre, Papua New Guinea
  • Ok Tedi Development Foundation, Papua New Guinea
  • Community Based Health Care, Papua New Guinea
  • Maria Kwin Training Centre, Papua New Guinea
  • University of Technology, Papua New Guinea
  • Bris Kanda Inc., Papua New Guinea
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Chris Barlow
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The project was officially launched in August 2010 in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province. The Year 1 activities focussed on broodstock performance trials to select the best breeding stock for tilapia, and a feed ingredients survey to underpin Year 2 studies on fingerling production and feed trials respectively. Year 1 activities also included: capacity building in Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing in Western Province and development of draft site selection criteria and mapping protocols; the strengthening of partnerships with lead farmers, farming cooperatives and small partner organisations; the reinvigoration of Fish for Schools and the Fish for Prisons Programs; and, contribution to inland aquaculture baseline surveys initiated by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).
The experimental design for broodstock trials was completed but the on-station trials were postponed until the end of August in 2011 due to delays in preparing suitable experimental sites. Initial plans to commence trials at Highland Aquaculture Development Centre (HAQDEC) were postponed to enable NFA to redevelop the centre’s research facilities. Attempts to run trials at private farms, as a surrogate ‘on-station’ option, were abandoned due to logistical problems, lack of ponds for replication of trials, and security risks. The redevelopment of HAQDEC commenced in March 2011. Ponds will be stocked for the trials at the end of August 2011. Ponds at Potsy Village, Morobe Province, were also prepared for parallel trials to compare data from high and low altitude sites and to provide a backup location. Broodstock from Yonki Reservoir and HAQDEC were collected and conditioned for the trials.
The Year 1 feed ingredients survey was completed for Morobe Province and Eastern Highlands Province. Samples of feed ingredients were collected from suppliers and other sources, catalogued and prepared for analysis. The analyses will be conducted in collaboration with the ‘Pacific islands aquaculture feed ingredients inventory’ (ACIAR and SPC) to enable comparison of data and to maximise the knowledgebase on feed ingredients for the Pacific region.
Secondary environmental and socioeconomic data were collected by OTFRDP from OTML archives. Mr Yanzan Aki, employed by OTFRDP to support the project, was trained in GIS and Remote Sensing techniques by the Gadjah Mada University team members. The training involved the preliminary analysis of the OTML spatial data; detailed analyses have commenced, and draft site selection criteria and mapping models have been prepared for the next stage of the mapping component. A final draft of site selection criteria will be produced in September 2011 to incorporate criteria for non-aquaculture commodities as an option for farmers in the Ok Tedi Mine impact zone.
Project team members engaged with new and existing cooperative farmers in preparation for Year 2 extension activities. During field visits, the project team conducted pond preparation and pond management demonstration activities, assessed the condition of ponds and provided technical advice to farmers in an effort to create uniform pond conditions for proposed on-farm trials in Year 2. Baseline surveys, designed by NFA, were conducted during the field visits to enable the project to measure the impact of its research on farm productivity and to assess changes in the socioeconomic status of farmers who adopt the research findings. The project team also re-established ties with secondary schools and the prison system to prepare for extension training. Training of Trainers (teachers and prison officers) was undertaken and will continue to the end of the project. A partnership with the PNG Defence Force was also established. The project team will be training existing and retiring army personnel in Morobe Province. The National Fisheries Authority and the project team have also implemented a ‘follow-up’ program for ex-prisoners involved in past fish farming training in prison in an effort to monitor their progress and identify training needs and other interventions. Training, technical support and demonstration activities were also conducted at field days, the Morobe Urban Youth Program and the Maria Kwin Centre. The project team is also working with HIV/AIDS programs to assess the benefits of fish in the diet of patients.

The second year of the project focussed on producing new generations of GIFT Tilapia broodstock for experimental work and to re-establish a broodstock management program in PNG. This was achieved and enabled the project to commence reproductive and growth performance trials for two families of GIFT Tilapia. Fish of a known age and origin have been raised to spawning size, and record keeping and broodstock management plans were implemented at HAQDEC and Potsy Village. Two GIFT Tilapia families were selected based on earlier assessment of the genetic status by Professor Peter Mather. The two families were re-established at HAQDEC, Aiyura and Potsy Village, Morobe Province, to test for reproductive and growth performance in two different climatic zones.
The facility at HAQDEC was refurbished under NFA funding with technical inputs from the project team. Ponds and canals were rebuilt, water supply from the reservoir was improved, and security fencing was installed to reduce theft. Other infrastructure, necessary for research and broodstock management, was also refurbished. The restored capacity of HAQDEC will be maintained by NFA and the project to re-establish it as the national broodstock management centre. Most of the refurbishment of HAQDEC was completed in late 2011 enabling the experimental work to commence in December 2011. Experimental work also commenced at Potsy Village. GIFT Tilapia at HAQDEC have grown at a lower rate than Potsy Village because of temperature differences. Trials have been conducted on egg removal for incubation work. The second stage of the experimental program involves comparing the reproductive and growth performance of fish from both families at the two locations. The commercialisation of ponds at Potsy Village has interrupted work and fish will now need to be relocated and reconditioned before the experiment can be restarted. The HAQDEC experiment will continue uninterrupted. Water supply difficulties at Erap will affect long-term broodstock management for the lowlands; NFA and the project team are investigating options.
A major feed ingredients survey was completed for Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) and Morobe province. The survey assessed availability, composition and cost of feed ingredients for each province. Proximate analysis of feed ingredients from all sources was completed and a feed ingredients database was created. The feed survey work will be expanded to include Madang and other locations. Feed formulations will be developed this year to prepare for feed trials that will follow on from growth performance trials. Preliminary trials on feed formulations, and associated work with lead and cooperative farmers, has enabled farmers to transition from expensive feed to lower cost, locally-produced feed. Profitability has increased for farmers who have replaced commercial feed with locally-produced pellets. Feed and growth trials were conducted at trout farms in Eastern Highlands Province in connection with an ACIAR mini project. The project has also provided assistance to trout farmers to improve the hatching success of imported eggs. Farmers are now independently hatching eggs.
The project team participated in an Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis Workshop delivered by UNSW to build scientific capacity. DEEDI provided field-based training of technicians involved in pond monitoring and management. The project team conducted training for lead farmers, cooperative farmers, model farmers, the PNG Military, primary and tertiary school teachers, prisoners at five prisons and NGOs. Partnerships with NGOs have been strengthened and collaborative dissemination and training opportunities have been cultivated.
Draft site selection criteria and mapping models have been developed further for the highlands and lowlands of PNG. The team has commenced developing extension and technical materials for site assessment, broodstock management, fish nutrition and fish husbandry. Efforts are underway to monitor and assess the impact of project interventions in EHP, WHP and Morobe Province.

Two GIFT families collected from Yonki Reservoir and residual stock at HAQDEC were re-established in late 2011 and maintained and improved in 2012 by selectively breeding fingerlings to create a new generation of fish of a known age and parentage. Subsequent generations were maintained at Potsy Village and HAQDEC. Fish for future broodstock and fingerling production, as well as quality fish for research trials, have been tagged and maintained in ponds and hapas at both locations. Broodstock management plans have been developed an implemented to ensure the new generations of fish are maintained for research and the distribution of quality broodstock and fingerlings to farmers across PNG.
Growth and reproductive performance trials commenced in the highlands at HAQDEC and in the lowlands at Potsy Village. Two locations were used to enable comparison of the two GIFT families under different environmental conditions and to manage risks. The HAQDEC trial was terminated due to theft of all fish from experimental hapas and ponds. Trials at Potsy Village were terminated shortly afterwards due to changes in site operations; pond owners terminated a long-standing agreement with NFA. Potsy Village intends to use the ponds for commercial fingerling production and supply. An emergency plan was implemented and fish were transferred to ponds at Erap. Fish from the Potsy Trial were also sent to HAQDEC to re-establish experimental broodstock and the fingerling production program. Fish at both locations were reconditioned and fish numbers are currently increasing under the broodstock management and fingerling production program implemented by the project. Plans to recommence the trials at HAQDEC were put on hold until mid 2013 due to the illness and subsequent death of Mr Wally Solato, and to rebuild numbers of fish.
A feed ingredients survey for Eastern Highlands Province, Morobe Province and selected areas around Madang was completed. Samples of feed ingredients and fertilisers were analysed at UniTech. Proximate analysis of feed ingredients was undertaken and compared to duplicate samples analysed by an SPC project to test data quality by comparing results from two different laboratories. Ingredients will be used to develop new, low-cost formulations that will be trialled at HAQDEC in 2013.
Draft site selection criteria were revised for tilapia, trout and carp. The criteria will be revised further following the completion of experimental work and trials on soil/pond management in 2014 and 2015 (under a project variation). Mapping models for Western Province are currently being applied to spatial data collected from OTML and other sources. Mapping outputs will be ground-truthed to check boundaries and mapping classes. Mapping in Markham Valley will be undertaken in 2014 following approval of a project variation.
The project team has continued to collaborate with NGOs to disseminate fish farming information in rural communities. Training in site selection, mapping, soil assessment, feed production, broodstock management, fingerling production and fish husbandry has continued. Training has been provided to NGOs, fish farming cooperatives, secondary schools, prisons, universities and other government agencies. Two scholarships for postgraduate study at UNSW have been awarded to project team members.
A mid-term review was undertaken in May 2013. The reviewers recommended a 2-year extension and variation of project activities. A project variation report and modified proposal is currently under development.

Growth and reproductive performance trials for two GIFT families were repeated during this reporting period following a series of thefts at the Highland Aquaculture Development Centre (HAQDEC) and loss of access to ponds at Potsy Village in the previous year. Experimental fish and broodstock were stolen from HAQDEC mid-experiment in previous years and also during this reporting period. The results of the repeated trials indicate that there is no significant difference in the growth and reproductive performance of Yonki and Aiyura families of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT). This result suggests that fish from Yonki Reservoir can be used as a wild pool of broodstock in the event that the Aiyura family is lost. The growth and reproductive performance trials will be repeated for GIFT collected from the Fly River where wild and farmed fish are reported to have good growth. Fingerlings will be acquired from LARDEC in mid 2014.
Earlier trials on growth and reproductive performance of GIFT were difficult to initiate because broodstock within and across families spawned at different times. Trials on synchronised spawning were undertaken to 1) enable comparison of growth and reproductive performance of the two GIFT families using same-age progeny from a range of broodstock and, 2) to improve the efficiency of fingerling production. The latter is important for long-term fingerling production as a service to the community. Farmers in Western Highlands Province (WHP) and Southern Highlands Province (SHP) have adopted the technology following training under the project. Unreliable fingerling supply has, until the trials, been an issue for lead farmers and HAQDEC. Syncronised spawning trials will continue to determine which environmental and management factors most effectively induce spawning. A second stage of trials will test whether hormones for egg formation and spawning in females are a viable option for mass production of fingerlings at HAQDEC and commercial hatcheries. Monosex trials are also underway; staff were trained in monosex fingerling production at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
Broodstock numbers were restored following the thefts. Broodstock for two families are now maintained in a more secure area at HAQDEC. Broodstock have also been distributed and maintained at other locations as a contingency. Maintenance of broodstock at Erap will cease due to unreliable water supply. Broodstock from Erap will be transported to HAQDEC. Broodstock for all families will also be maintained in secure floating cages at Sirinumu reservoir (Jonah Bobogi’s Tilapia Farm) near Port Moresby.
NFA funded a second stage of renovations at HAQDEC at a cost of K 200,000 to improve capacity for research, broodstock management and fingerling production. The ACIAR project team, particularly Billy Kerowa, managed the renovations, provided technical inputs on the redesign of ponds and canals, re-engineering of the water supply, creation of a facility for egg incubation and fingerling production, and re-establishment of broodstock management ponds. The renovations will continue through 2014 and 2015 and the ACIAR team will continue to coordinate the process with funding from NFA; PGK 4 Million that has been allocated by NFA to cover materials and labour. The second stage of renovations will include staff housing, accommodation for Police officers and high security fencing.
The feed ingredient database will be updated as new sources of feed are identified by the project or recommended by ACIAR Project ASEM/2010/053, ‘Enhancing the role of small scale feed milling in the development of the monogastric industries in Papua New Guinea’. Feed trials will commence in June/July 2014. Links to ACIAR project ASEM/2010/053 and SPC research programs are being developed to share findings, develop similar experimental designs for comparative work, and to co-develop extension materials on feed formulations and feeding practices.

Collaborating Institutions
National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Papua New Guinea
Highland Aquaculture Development Centre, Papua New Guinea
Ok Tedi Development Foundation, Papua New Guinea
Community Based Health Care, Papua New Guinea
Maria Kwin Training Centre, Papua New Guinea
University of Technology, Papua New Guinea
Bris Kanda Inc., Papua New Guinea
Program Areas
Overview Objectives

This project aims to develop aquaculture planning systems for management agencies and to improve fish husbandry techniques for primarily small-scale fish farmers in PNG.
More than 10,000 small-scale fish farms in Papua New Guinea already produce tilapia, carp or trout for home consumption and sale, and interest in aquaculture continues to climb. The government has given high priority to aquaculture development in recognition of its potential to help achieve food security, particularly in the inland areas, but production levels are low compared with South-East Asian systems. Constraints include lack of capability within management agencies to identify appropriate sites for pond development, inadequate supply and poor quality of fingerlings, limited availability and high cost of pond fertilisers and suitable feeds, and a general lack of knowledge and training on aquaculture husbandry skills.
Focused on the Western, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands and Morobe Provinces, the project will address the farming requirements of different fish species and environmental challenges.
The project builds directly on research undertaken with support from ACIAR - one project on land classification for aquaculture development in Indonesia and three others on inland aquaculture in PNG.

Project Budget
$1,700,010.00
Grant Report Value
$1870011
Grant Report Recipient
University of New South Wales
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
2052
Grant Report Finish Date
30/06/2016
Grant Report Start Date
03/03/2010

Sustainable intensification of maize-legume cropping systems for food security in eastern and southern Africa (SIMLESA)

Project Leader
Dr Mulugetta Mekuria
Email
m.mekuria@cgiar.org
Fax
+263 4 301327
Phone
+263 4 301945
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
CSE/2009/024
Start Date
01/01/2010
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
TA-202201-56502
Project Type
Multilateral
Project Status
Active
Finish Date
31/12/2013
Commissioned Organisation: 
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Zimbabwe
dockey
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Zimbabwe
Extension Finish Date
30/06/2014
Overview Collaborators
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Murdoch University, Australia
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia
  • Agricultural Research and Technical Services, Malawi
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Tanzania
  • Mozambique Agricultural Research Institute, Mozambique
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya
  • Agricultural Research Council, South Africa
  • Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, Uganda
  • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, India
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr John Dixon
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The aim of this four-year (July 2010-December 2013) program in eastern and southern Africa is to improve farm-level food security and productivity, in the context of climate risk and change, through the development of more resilient, profitable and sustainable farming systems that overcome food insecurity for significant numbers of farm families in eastern and southern Africa. The program promotes the use of maize-legume technologies of adapted varieties and develops comprehensive agronomic packages that increase productivity and sustainable intensification of maize-legume cropping systems. The key focus areas of the program are farmer and stakeholder participation and economic evaluation of the new technologies. The program has a comparable set of activities in the five SIMLESA implementing countries in eastern and southern Africa. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) supports the program which is being managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (as the commissioned organization) in collaboration with the NARS of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), the International Center for Research for the SemiArid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation of Queensland (QDEEDI/QAAFI), and Murdoch University in Western Australia. Support for NARS researchers is provided through the participation of partner institutions (CIMMYT, ACIAR ASARECA, ICRISAT, QAAFI and Murdoch University).

SIMLESA has made significant progress during the first year and laid the foundation for stronger performance in the coming years. Most of the activities planned during the reporting period were implemented and significant results produced in all the program countries. In Objective one, baseline surveys of 4,600 randomly selected households from and surveys of maize-pigeon pea, maize-beans, maize-groundnuts, and maize-soybean cropping systems in 580 villages in five countries were conducted by a total of 101 enumerators (25 of whom were women). Community
level data was also collected from these villages to complement and provide a broader socioeconomic context for the farm household data. The surveys covered several districts distributed in two agro-ecological zones in each country. The survey instruments and tools were developed by NARS staff, with additional input on gender provided by ASARECA staff. Data clearing, verification and analysis is already underway to develop various research reports in the following period.

Under objective 2, a total of 215 on-farm exploratory, 13 researcher-managed trials and 14 participatory variety selection sessions were carried out in the five countries. Different treatments of maize-legume intercrop and rotations were demonstrated in farmers’ fields. The field days which took place to enhance farmer-to-farmer cross pollination of ideas, also created more interest in community awareness initiatives. Local innovation platforms were established in four out of five countries and are showing promising results. Farmers reported challenges with weed and residue
management in some trial sites for testing agronomic and conservation agriculture systems in the target countries in the first year and this will be addressed in the following seasons.

Under Objective 3 farmers and stakeholders selected pre-released varieties suitable for their farming systems. The following maize varieties were selected: (Ethiopia-hybrids(BH661;BH543), OPVs (Melkassa 2,Melkassa 6Q, Gibe 2 & Gibe 3); Kenya-hybrids (KH500-39E, KDH3, WH105, KH500Q, KH631Q, H624, H520, KH533A & KM0406), OPVs (KDV1, Embu Synth, KKSynth2, WS303 & KM0403); Malawi-hybrids (MH26 & MH27), OPVs (ZM523, ZM623, ZM309 & ZM721); Mozambique-hybrids (CZH511 & Olipa), OPVs (ZM523, Tsangano & Chinaca) and Tanzania-hybrids (Selian H308,
Selian H208, SAH779, SAH638 & SAH636), OPVs (SA523 & SA525). Farmers considered some or all of the following factors when making their selections in the participatory variety selection (PVS) trials: yield level, early maturity, drought tolerance, pest resistance, medium height and palatability/taste. It was clear that farmers’ active assessment and strong stakeholders’ involvement (private seed companies, fertilizer companies, input dealers, local authorities, and extension) are key for the success of the PVS initiatives in both countries.

Under Objective 4, the ASARECA-SIMLESA team conducted a gender mainstreaming training workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. In addition, twenty-three NARS scientists participated in the M&E framework development workshop in Nairobi, facilitated by ASARECA. Substantial progress was made in terms of capacity building under Objective 5. Five NARS and two ASARECA scientists attended a SIMLESA/ACIAR M&E and Impact Assessment (IA) workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Two NARS scientists from Mozambique attended a BECA Scientific writing workshop held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2010. Two scientists attended the BNF training workshop at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The first SIMLESA annual partners review and planning meeting and PSC meeting were held in March 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya. Sixteen SIMLESA researchers participated in the APSIM modeling training workshop from 19 to 24 March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All participating partners undertook their year 1 and some year 2 country planning meetings during the reporting period.

Six 4WD double cabin all-terrain vehicles were procured for use by the SIMLESA country teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique for field activities and research related trips. This has substantially improved infrastructural constraints for the national programs and enhanced the ability to implement field activities in less accessible areas, often bypassed and unable to benefit from farming systems research. Plans are underway to procure two vehicles for the Tanzania SIMLESA teams. Various pieces of research equipment have already been purchased for the country
teams and more is being procured. A number of students were selected for Ph.D. studies.

SIMLESA is a four-year (July 2010-December 2013) project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The aim of main SIMLESA and Expanded SIMLESA Ethiopia projects is to improve farm-level food security and productivity as well as livestock productivity (Ethiopia only), in the context of climate risk and change, through the development of more resilient, profitable and sustainable farming systems that overcome food insecurity for significant numbers of farm families in eastern and southern Africa. SIMLESA promotes the use of adapted maize-legume technologies as well as improved varieties and develops comprehensive agronomic packages that increase productivity of maize-legume intercropping systems at farm level. The key focus areas of the project are farmer and stakeholder participation and economic evaluation of the new technologies. The project has an identical set of activities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. SIMLESA project is being managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) - as the commissioned organization - in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and private seed companies from the five SIMLESA implementing countries, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), the International Center for Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) in association with Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation,(QDEEDI/QAAFI-Australia), and Murdoch University in Western Australia. Technical support for national agencies is provided by partner institutions (CIMMYT, ACIAR, ASARECA, ARC-SA, ICRISAT, QAAFI and Murdoch University).

Baseline surveys for 4,600 randomly selected households from 38 districts in two agro-ecological zones and surveys of maize-pigeonpea, maize-beans, maize-groundnuts, and maize-soybean cropping systems in 580 villages in five countries were conducted. Three baseline survey reports have been produced and writing of two reports is in progress. Eight posters and eight scientific papers were developed and presented at the second SIMLESA Annual Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM) in March 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania. Draft farm typologies have been developed for Tanzania and Kenya.

The project facilitated 230 on-farms exploratory and 22 on-station trials, and 19 field days that were attended by 5948 participants, as planned under Objective 2. Five in-country and the annual review and planning meetings were done while all stakeholder inception and planning meeting for Ethiopia Expansion project have been undertaken. The second SIMLESA Annual Review and Planning and Project Steering Committee meetings were attended by regional and international partners. This year’s conference had a session for a SIMLESA village where partner countries exhibited and showcased their achievements since 2010. ACIAR commissioners graced this year’s SIMLESA meetings. Four participants from SIMLESA spillover countries participated in the meetings. The meetings combined with the commencement of the Mid-Term Review of the SIMLESA project. Local innovation platforms have been strengthened or established in the five countries to help farmer groups and partners exchange experiences and share knowledge among themselves and key stakeholders.

Under Objective 3, the project established 50 sets of regional trials and mother baby trials (MBT) in collaboration with active 10 partner institutions. In addition, 19 maize and 18 legumes on station trials were establsihed in the five SIMLESA countries. Materials under evaluation include drought tolerant germplasm dispatched to SIMLESA target countries. ICRISAT supplied 104 medium, 245 long, and 37 Short duration varieties of pigeonpea to Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Seed road maps were developed for each country with the active participation of local private and public partners.

Under Objective 4, the ASARECA-SIMLESA team conducted a gender mainstreaming training workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities centred on further development of the M&E frameworks which included the results framework, the performance monitoring plan, the performance measurement framework and populating it with data from the field. Twenty-three NARS scientists participated in the M&E framework development workshop in Nairobi, facilitated by ASARECA. The technology inventory and knowledge transfers as well as spillover enabling conditions study was carried out.

Substantial progress was made in terms of capacity building under Objective 5. A total of 77 NARS researchers participated in an ARC-SA coordinated and facilitated capacity building that targeted at three modules: Biometry; CA principles; Soil Science and Innovation Platforms for five days. Two NARS scientists from Mozambique and Tanzania attended an IRRI coordinated workshop held in Manila, Philippines in July-August 2011. An additional 4WD double cabin all-terrain vehicle was procured for use by the Mozambique SIMLESA country team. Various pieces of research equipment have already been purchased for the country teams and more are being procured. Six PhD candidates have been awarded the AusAID and ACIAR scholarships for 2012 while 30 candidates have enrolled for MSc and three for PhD in local universities under SIMLESA.

Collaborating Institutions
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Murdoch University, Australia
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia
Agricultural Research and Technical Services, Malawi
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Tanzania
Mozambique Agricultural Research Institute, Mozambique
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya
Agricultural Research Council, South Africa
Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, Uganda
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, India
Overview Objectives

This program is part of the Australia Food Security Initiative for Africa. It builds substantially on completed ACIAR projects in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It focuses on maize as the main staple and legumes as an important dietary protein source for the rural poor. Combined rainfed maize-legume cropping systems show considerable promise in boosting productivity and helping reverse the decline in soil fertility that is a fundamental cause of low smallholder productivity in the region.
To intensify maize-legume cropping systems in a sustainable way while reducing yield variability requires an integrated approach to the complex production and marketing system for these crops. Through participatory research and development with farmers, extension agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and agribusiness along the value chains, the program aims to improve maize and legume productivity by 30% and to reduce the expected downside yield risk by 30% on approximately 500,000 farms within 10 years.

Partner countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Australia, with input from South Africa. CIMMYT, as commissioned organisation, will manage the project in collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), partner country research entities, other CGIAR centres and Australian partners.

Project Budget
$21,649,935.00
Grant Report Recipient
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
Grant Report Finish Date
30/06/2014
Grant Report Start Date
15/03/2010

Soil fertility management in the Papua New Guinea highlands for sweet potato based cropping systems

Project Leader
Dr Neal Menzies
Email
n.menzies@uq.edu.au
Fax
+61 7 5460 1704
Phone
+61 7 3365 2059
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Project ID: 
SMCN/2004/067
Start Date
01/04/2007
Project Coordinator Fax
Reference Number
NM-202510-33052
Project Type
Bilateral
Project Status
Active
Final Progress Report

The July 2014 estimate of PNGs population is just over 6.5 million with about half residing in the Highlands provinces. With population growth at 2-3% per annum and little or no expansion of the area under agricultural production in the Highlands, the pressure on the land resource has resulted in land use intensification via shortening of the fallow phase between cropping cycles. The majority of land users are subsistence farmers who do not use mineral fertiliser to maintain soil fertility. Consequently, unprecedented pressure is being placed on the land resource to increase productivity of sweetpotato (SP), the main staple, to support the burgeoning population. The overall aim of this project was to improve the livelihoods and food security of Highland farmers in PNG by helping them to increase the productivity and longevity of their sweetpotato-based cropping systems. Specific objectives of the project were to evaluate current fallow management practices and the resultant nutritional value of SP crops via an exploratory survey, to identify factors limiting crop yield and evaluate improved nutrient management options, and to test and out-scale best-bet systems for maintaining soil fertility. The work was done in collaboration with NARI in PNG, providing capacity building support to this organization.
The initial exploratory survey conducted in late 2007 showed that cropping cycles in the Eastern Highlands Province, Simbu and Jiwaka were short (1-2 crops over 1-2 years) followed by a short fallow (3 months to 1 year). These short fallows were bush fallows, primarily voluntary grasses, and there were no planted fallows or biomass burning. No mineral fertiliser was used in the SP systems and slash-and-carry of biomass to improve or maintain soil fertility was not practised. Amongst the commonly grown SP varieties average starch content was just under 60% and did not vary significantly between varieties. The same was true for in-vitro starch and K digestibility. However, in terms of human nutrition value, digestibility is governed more by method of food preparation. Sweetpotato starch content tended to be higher in soils with high total N and plant available S. These exploratory results confirmed that focus should be given to within-garden soil management practises that improve nutrient use efficiency through reducing nutrient losses. Although soil fertility appeared to have some impact on tuber nutritional value, it was not possible to pursue this further in this project.
Three sites (Humept in Aiyura, Aquept in Simbu and Aquist in Tambul.) were selected to test soil management practise in relation to soil fertility. Nutrient omission trials conducted on these soils showed that S and N were most limiting to biomass production, followed by Mo and P. There was a strong indication that Nickel was limiting to biomass production in two of the three soil types. These potential micro-nutrient deficiencies, and in particular Mo deficiency, should be followed up, given the importance of Mo to peanut - a possible fallow or intercrop in the SP system. Since farmers do not use mineral fertiliser, management of N is probably the highest priority.
Field experiments were started in 2008. They were maintained in Aiyura for 4-years, in Simbu for 2 years and in Tambul for 1 year. The earlier than planned termination on two of the three sites was due to security issues. It was not possible to locate alternative sites. The field experiments investigated a range of factors influencing soil fertility and cropping potential, including the use of small composted mounds, comparisons between mulching and burning, and between back-to-back SP and SP followed by a short bush fallow, the effect of a legume phase (peanut) and the use of raised beds.
Cumulative yields over the duration of the project were highest with back-to-back SP cropping. Even though yields per season were lowest, the cumulative yields were highest over the 4 years in Aiyura, because SP generated yield while other treatments were under fallow. From a farmers perspective this seems the best practise albeit it cannot be sustained indefinitely. Based on plant tissue analysis of tubers, a 10 t/ha SP crop will remove around 18 kg of N, 45 kg of K and 2 kg of S. Replenishment of the N, K and S supplies in soil are dependent on the amount of fallow biomass and the quality of the fallow species. Leguminous fallow (e.g. Mimosa in Simbu) produced lower crop yields than the grass fallow (May-grass in Aiyura), but both were able to offset nutrient removal. Even biomass returned from a SP crop (fallow) can be sufficient to balance nutrient removal. The only fallow for which biomass accumulation was insufficient was peanut, due to its poor growth (and also to theft). Whilst farmers are interested in peanut, not only as a good source of protein but as a source of N for a subsequent SP crop, it is necessary that the crop achieves sufficiently high yield. This may not be possible in areas which are simply too cold for peanut production; the earlier observation of Mo limitations may also need to be investigated in more detail since alleviation of this deficiency might help to improve peanut yields in some areas. These calculations are based on a 10 t/ha SP crop which is low compared to possible yields of over 50t/ha. It is obvious that nutrient removal of high yielding SP crops will outstrip nutrient accumulation even on a very productive fallow. Practice change towards balancing nutrient removal with nutrient replenishment probably has no other option than using mineral fertiliser or engaging in slash-and-carry of high nutrient biomass to SP gardens. Composted mounds are amongst the best fertility management options. In the field trials they did not out-yield other treatments, but farmers were interested in this practice; i.e. a downsizing of the very large Engan mounds to an adoptable practise outside Enga Province.
Our on-farm farmer managed trials gave clear indication that small composted mounds are able to achieve higher yields than normal mounds on poorer soils. The slash-and-carry of biomass included Tephrosia, Piper and Tithonia. An additional benefit reported by farmers was weevil control due to possible pesticidal properties of some fallow species.

Finish Date
31/03/2012
Extension Start Date
01/01/2013
Commissioned Organisation: 
University of Queensland, Australia
dockey
ACIA-73U6DZ
Project Coordinator Email
Commissioned Organisation
University of Queensland, School of Land and Food Sciences, Australia
Extension Finish Date
31/12/2013
Overview Collaborators
  • National Agricultural Research Institute, Papua New Guinea
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
  • Lutheran Development Service, Papua New Guinea
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Gamini Keerthisinghe
Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The project commenced with an induction meeting held in June 2007. Participants included NARI and LDS project staff, Australian collaborators and visitors from DAL and the University of Goroka. We agreed on a work plan for the first objective of the project; to assess and quantify soil and water processes. Part of project objectives 2 and 3 overlap with the first objective and only a tentative timeline was developed.
Dr Gunnar Kirchhof visited NARI twice for a month in October 2007 and March 2008 to provide training on experimental design and operating of field equipment, assist with setting up sweetpotato nutrient omission and field trials, and design a project database.
Nutrient rate trials where the application rate of all of the basal nutrients were altered together have been conducted for the soils on all three sites. The aim of these trials was to determine an appropriate ‘all’ treatment for subsequent omission trials, in this way optimizing the capacity of the omission trials to identify deficient nutrients. The pot trial was run for around 5 weeks. The equivalent nutrient rates for a ‘normal’ rate were based on common fertiliser application rates.
Whilst the rate trial for the Aiyura site showed quite clearly that a 2x normal rate resulted in optimum growth, the results for the Simbu and Tambul site were too variable and are currently being repeated. Nutrient omission trials were conducted using the same experimental procedure as the rate trial but using the 2x normal rate. An omission trial is based on omitting one nutrient at a time from the ‘All nutrients’ treatment, in this way identifying which nutrients may limit plant growth. Nutrient interactions are not identified in the omission trial approach.
On the Aiyura soil, only the minus Mo treatment was significantly different to the control. However, although the minus S treatment did not differ significantly to the control (P=6%), very distinct S deficiency symptoms were observed, i.e. the leaves were pale green to yellow in coloration. This indicated that, besides biomass, observations of plant nutrient deficiency symptoms are particularly useful.
On the Tambul soils N, P, S, Mn, Zn, Mo, Ni were significantly different to the ‘all’ treatment with minus S having the most significant impact on shoot production. On the Simbu soil significantly different to the control were: minus N, P, Ca, S, B and Mn with minus S and N having the most significant impact on shoot production.
A limitation of these trials is that nutrient availability under field condition may differ to those we observed under pot trial conditions. This is of particular importance for P owing to its interactions with mycorrhiza under field conditions. Hence field trials are needed to confirm pot trial observations. S-limitations were important in soils from two of the three sites supported the results from the scoping study. The confirmation that N-limitations were important, despite the high organic matter content of these soils, also supported our hypothesis about an imbalance between the release of N from the soil organic matter and plant demand for this nutrient; something which will be monitored and assessed during the field trials.
The exploratory survey to help design best-bet treatments for the process study was conducted in late 2007. Key findings were that farmers are not using improved fallows where they strategically establish fallow vegetation. Fallows are weedy regrowth; primarily voluntary grasses. Half of the farmers we interviewed were female, this is important for our on-farm trials and the inclusion of female farmers as decision makers. Green manure and compost are mainly grasses. They grow in the garden and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of slash and carry. Availability of organic material for mulch and/or compost seems to be a major problem. The survey confirmed results from the pilot project that cropping cycles as well as fallow periods are becoming shorter.
Sweetpotato samples were collected during the exploratory survey. Total starch was analysed by the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences. The average starch content was 56% and there was no significant difference in total starch content between sweetpotato varieties.
All mother trials have been set up, completely instrumented and planted with sweetpotato. We used our ‘at present’ best management options as treatment allowing several important comparisons: opportunities to use of large Engan mounds outside Enga, effect of compost type and quality, evaluation of burning vs mulching and impact of short leguminous fallows or intercrops. These trials will run for at least the next two years.

Sweetpotato tuber samples from the exploratory survey of farmer’s fields were analysed for total starch content and digestibility and K-digestibility using in-vitro time-course digestion procedures Required note by Dr Peter Sopade: “The author acknowledges the technical support of Ms Yun Liu, and Drs Houda Sabboh and Peter Sopade of the Centre for Nutrition & Food Sciences, University of Queensland on the total starch and digestibility studies”.. Starch content of tubers ranged from 50 to 67%, and was lowest for varieties Bayer and Carot kau kau, and highest for varieties Nillgai and 1 mun. Bayer kau kau also tended to have the fastest starch digestibility, which may be linked to its low starch content. Nutritionally, this implies that Bayer kau kau tubers have a high glycaemic index, and are capable of raising blood glucose levels faster than tubers from other varieties. The samples differed significantly in their K-digestibility, the fastest K-digestibility being observed for varieties 1 mun and waghi besta, and the slowest for variety 3 mun. Assuming favourable conditions, high K-digestibility can translate into high K-absorption in the digestive tract leading to high K availability after consumption. There was no relationship between plant tissue nutrient concentrations and tuber starch content or digestibility. However, tuber starch content was highest on soils with high organic carbon, total N and plant available S concentrations.
Field sites in Eastern Highlands (Aiyura station), Simbu (Kondiu High School) and Western Highlands (Tambul station) provinces were prepared for sweepotato planting in April 2008. All sites were brought into cropping from a non-sweetpotato or fallow phase. The treatments applied investigated a range of tillage methods (large mounds, small mounds, or beds), coupled with mulch application and composting using different plant material, both burnt and unburnt. Sweet potato was grown for 6 months at Aiyura and Simbu, and for 9 months at Tambul; the longer growing period at the latter station was needed because of the colder temperatures at high altitude. Soil water content and potential were monitored on selected plots. Soil solution samples were collected several times to investigate nitrate leaching. Tubers were harvested and separated into different size classes.
Tuber yields at Aiyura ranged from 17 to 30 t/ha. The lowest yield occurred on the large composted mound treatment, and was significantly different to the yields on several other treatments. This treatment produced the lowest mass of medium size tubers but also the largest number of small or rejected tubers. It is possible that, if harvested later, these small tubers would have grown and eliminated the yield difference with the other treatments. Yields on the other treatments ranged from 21 to 30 t/ha but were not significantly different. The general lack of treatment effect was probably due to the long fallow period and thus the absence of any soil fertility limitation.
Yields at the Simbu site were similar to those at Aiyura and ranged from 15 to 30 t/ha. However, unlike at the Aiyura site, the large composted mound treatment produced the highest yield. Furthermore, the small mound with compost treatments produced higher yields than those with mulch. This suggests that composting at the poorer Simbu site was beneficial for tuber production.
The high altitude Tambul site had very low yields; 1 to 10 t/ha. These low yields were no doubt largely due to the low inherent fertility of the soil. The trial site is situated on an old swamp which had been cleared and drained for grazing a few decades ago. Under these conditions the soil fertility (e.g. CEC topsoil ~1.5 and subsoil <0.5 cmol+/kg) is extremely low despite the very high organic carbon contents (21% topsoils and 10 % subsoil). The site had never been cultivated prior to the trials. Under continuous cultivation the CEC of the soil will improve as organic matter breaks down and soil fertility increases leading to the relatively high sweetpotato yields observed in Enga from the large composted mound systems. However, farmers explained that it takes at least 3 years of cultivation before these soils begin to give satisfactory yields.
The average hydraulic gradients at the Simbu site were slightly negative at all depths throughout most of the sweet potato phase indicative of minimal leaching potential. Accordingly, nitrate leaching was lowest at this site. At the Aiyura site the hydraulic gradients were negative in the topsoil and positive in the subsoil indicative of a stronger leaching environment. Here, nitrate leaching was highest and no doubt reflected the large amount of biomass present on this site at the start of the sweetpotato phase. Average hydraulic gradients were positive at all depths in Tambul indicative of a strong leaching environment. However, nitrate was only observed within the mounds but not in the subsoil supporting our observation that the soil on the site had low fertility status.

The second sweetpotato cropping cycle was completed early 2010. Average total yields at both sites decreased by about 20% compared to the first cycle, with significant differences between soil fertility management treatments, though this was not consistent between sites. The Engan mound treatment at Aiyuira had the highest yields with 35 t/ha, about 1.5 times higher than during the first cycle. This may be due to the sequential harvesting we used this cycle to overcome the problem of harvesting immature tubers. However, at Simbu, the yield for the Engan mound treatment decreased compared to the last cycle, but with 33 t/ha it was still the highest in this cycle. The small composted mounds maintained a moderate yield of 26 t/ha in Aiyura but yield decreased at the Simbu site. A 50% yield decrease was observed for back to back sweetpotato production at both sites. Part of this large yield reduction over time was compensated by having a short sweetpotato crop during the time when other treatments were under fallow. A third cycle will be needed to assess how aggressive back to back sweetpotato is over longer times.
The back to back treatment in Aiyura had unusually high yield which is probably due to the high nitrate values measured in this particular treatment. At present we are uncertain why these plots express such good soil fertility levels. The second highest nitrate levels were observed in the Engan mounds. Nitrate levels at the Simbu site where similar for all treatments, though the mulch treatment had the highest levels. There is a reasonable indication that soil solution nitrate levels are a main contributor to tuber yield.
The largest differences in yield between the two sites were due to mulching. In Aiuyra the yields of the mulched plots were lowest, and with a 50% difference relative to the first cycle, showed the largest decrease in yield. In contrast, mulching increased yield at Simbu. These subtle differences may be associated with the differences in climate and evaporative demand and leaching of nutrients. The Simbu site is located at Kondiu and close to the Waghi valley which makes the climate warmer than Aiyura, despite very similar altitudes.
Our observations on direction of water movement were similar to the last cycle, i.e. a leaching environment in Simbu with little nitrate detected in the soil solution of the rooting depths, and an upward redistribution environment at Aiyrura with nitrate present in the root zone.
Trials at the high altitude site in Tambul have been discontinued following concerns amongst the research team regarding how representative of typical farmers’ fields the site was.
Good progress is being made in the outreach program, with Joseph running training programs and interacting with farmers. Training has now commenced in Eastern Highlands province (EHP) and baby trials are being set up. Proper baby trials in Western Highlands (WHP) and Simbu are also underway for basic data collection and reporting. Site selection and treatment layout have been completed. Farmers have been tasked to prepare the sites for trial planting. All planting will be completed by June 2010. Documentation of the practices used and data from these trials will assist with the development of the most appropriate soil fertility management options for farmers, that are suited to their soil and climate.
Following the success of the first “Farmer Field Day” in Banz, WHP in December 2009, at least three more events have been scheduled for this year to coincide with the harvest of baby trials in the three provinces. These field days will be an excellent opportunity for participating farmers to showcase what they are doing. Preparation of posters and brochures for those field days has been planned, and materials for the field days will be developed after baby trials are established.
Further training in the importance of using clean, virus-free sweet potato planting materials has been scheduled for 26-27 May 2010. Joseph and a lead farmer will attend this training organised in Aiyura under the companion project CP/2004/071.

A third sweetpotato cropping cycle was planted at the Aiyura site early 2011. This was later than expected due to unusually dry conditions throughout the Highlands and data collection is ongoing. Back to back sweetpotato yields over 4 consecutive seasons at Aiyura degreased from 44, 25, 24 to 11 t/ha. This yield decline was more pronounced at the poorer soil at the Simbu site: 28, 13, 15 to 7 t/ha. Topsoil solution nitrate levels were always higher at the Aiyura site (17ppm) compared to the Simbu site (2ppm) which would account for the yield difference. It also corresponds to differences in topsoil organic carbon contents (3 and 6%). Leaching of nitrate from the topsoil is possible in Simbu were we continued to observe an average downward movement of water, while in Aiyura, on average water tended to move upward towards the rooting zone. Although these observations help explain the total yield differences between the two site, they do not explain the reduction in yield over time. There was no detectable decline in release of nitrate or decrease in organic matter since monitoring commenced mid 2008. No nitrate was observed at 100 cm depth. Climatic conditions during the duration of the trial are also an unlikely cause for the yield decline under back-to-back sweetpotato cropping. No differences in the outbreak of pests or diseases were observed since the trials commences. It is possible that nutrient decline other then nitrogen limit yield under continuous cropping. Following our observation during the scoping study, sulphur is a possibility, in particular in Simbu.
Field trials at the Simbu site had to be discontinued late 2011 due to ongoing problems with the upkeep of the trials and concerns about data reliability.
The outreach program run by Joseph Kuru has made excellent progress. Farmer field schools continued in the Eastern Highlands province, Simbu, Jiwaka and Western highlands Province. Baby trials have been set up and are running at all villages where training was provided. To date an estimated 2200 framers have participated in the farmer field schools. It is particularly interesting to note that many farmers started to experiment using their own variations of composted mounds. This includes different size and shape mounds to suit their needs, coupled with different intercrops and using a range of composting materials.

Collaborating Institutions
National Agricultural Research Institute, Papua New Guinea
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Australia
Lutheran Development Service, Papua New Guinea
Overview Objectives

Population growth of 2-3% in the PNG Highlands is placing unprecedented pressure on the land resource and on the long-term productivity of sweetpotatoes, the main staple. An earlier study confirmed the potential for improving productivity of sweetpotato-based systems by addressing soil fertility as a major factor in yield decline. There is also a clear farmer awareness of the problem and interest in becoming engaged. This project will assess and quantify soil and water processes in Highland soils, work with farmers to develop and implement improved nutrient and water management options for sweetpotato-based cropping systems (with a focus on existing indigenous soil management systems), and enhance PNG’s soil research capacity.

Project Budget
$1,166,273.00
Grant Report Value
$1282900
Grant Report Recipient
University of Queensland
Grant Report Recipient Post Code
4067
Grant Report Finish Date
31/12/2013
Grant Report Start Date
23/03/2007