WALRC: Western Australian Livestock Reseach Council
New faces at WALRC
Three new producer members have joined the WA Livestock Research Council (WALRC) this month and one of their first tasks will be to review the initial round of R&D applications that have been submitted under the current call for projects.
WALRC is funded primarily by MLA producer levies with the charter of helping extract meaningful red meat research and extension priorities from the producers across the lower half of the state.
Kojonup sheep producer Lynley Anderson; Nannup lot feeder and beef producer Matt Camarri and Gascoyne pastoralist Clint Thompson of Wyloo station were formally inducted into the WALRC process this month.
“The beef industry has been very good to our family and we have gained a tremendous amount both personally and financially from the industry and it is now time for me to give something back,” said incoming councillor Matt Camarri.
According to WALRC chairman, Pingelly sheep producer and veterinarian Tim Watts, the strength of the WALRC process is the calibre and geographic spread of its producer council members, which is designed to ensure a comprehensive collection of what research activities will provide tangible on-ground benefit to beef and sheep producers. “We have eight producers on the Council but importantly, we also have strong industry representation with contribution from the Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants and the NRM sector,” Dr Watts said. “Our five major agricultural research institutions - DPIRD, UWA, CSIRO, Murdoch and Curtin are also at the table providing a structure that really ensures collaboration between producer and researcher from the start.
Matt Camarri (left),
Esther Jones and
Meanwhile, WALRC has also announced the appointment of a new secretariat service, with experienced agricultural services executive officer Esther Jones replacing retiring secretariat Sarah Hyde of the Facey Group. “Sarah has been with WALRC since its inception and has played an excellent support role to both myself and my predecessor Erin Gorter,” Tim said. “She has been instrumental in setting up the processes and protocols under which we now operate and we are really appreciative of that.”
Dr Watts and his Council hold the expectation that WALRC’s responsibilities and scope will grow over the coming years to be more aligned with the style of its sister organisations in the North and East of the country.
Red Leaf Clover Disease
WALRC wants to know: Is red leaf clover disease of concern to your enterprise?
A partnership between impacted growers and researchers has been critical to gaining a base understanding Subterranean clover red leaf syndrome - or more commonly known as Red Leaf Clover disease - in the southern region of WA.
Outbreak investigations over the past two seasons is supporting the researchers’ hypothesis that soybean dwarf virus is the primary cause of the disease and that aphids enable its spread.
“As soon as we saw evidence of the outbreak last year, WALRC was a facilitator of the first round of research funding in a collaboration between MLA, AWI, DPIRD and UWA as there were parts of the state that experienced devastating impact from the disease and we needed to understand the basics,” said WALRC chair Tim Watts.
The research team recovered the Soybean Dwarf
virus from 80pc of clover plants with the telling red led leaves - and confirmed that it was
predominantly Pea and Foxglove aphids colonising these plants. However, as the aphids are green and camouflage well in sub-clover and predominantly colonise the base of the plant, it makes them
difficult to see.
Of greater consideration however, is that non-colonising species that are common in the
wheatbelt, such as Cereal aphids, could also spread the virus but this species would be even more
difficult to detect due to their ‘move-on’ behaviour.
Clover displaying red leaf clover disease syndrome
Researchers have told WALRC that the virus often establishes in individual plants which act as an infection focal point and manifests itself as growing patches of reddening plants in the pasture. It is important for producers be able to note the difference between a red leaf clover infection and a nutrient deficiency. “With the red leaf disease, reddening of leaves being on the outer leaf margins and eventually spreads inwards across the whole leaf before the cells begin to die,” said UWA researcher Kevin Foster. “But unlike some nutrient deficiencies, it is uncommon for the stalk to redden.”
WALRC has been highly supportive of the current DPIRD/UWA work to further understand the range of clovers that will play host to the disease and to assess which species of aphids will act as vectors. This has involved a number of farms providing data for the project survey this spring. “But we think a lot more work is needed and critically, we want producers to tell us whether this work should continue,” said WALRC chair Tim Watts.
WALRC is keen to hear from producers who have experienced outbreaks of Red Leaf Clover disease this spring and gain feedback on the importance of research in this space. “The next phase of research activity does not have any industry funds supporting it and in order to pitch a case for levies to be used to support the work we need to have evidence that producers see it as a high priority,” Tim said. “We would appreciate hearing from anyone who has encountered the disease over the last two years and the extent of the impact it has had on your production system.”
A comprehensive fact sheet has been prepared by DPRID and UWA and can be found at
Please tell us what you’ve found: Email email@example.com and tell us if you’ve been impacted by this disease and to what extent has the impact been. Let us know if you would support further work in this space. Or raise this issue with a WALRC producer councillor.
Find your local rep at www.walrc.com.au.
WALRC is an initiative of MLA with support from Curtin, CSIRO, DPIRD, Murdoch & UWA