Evan Ryan travelled the world looking at trace element nutrition in broadacre cropping

A Yarrawonga farmer believes “biofortification” of grain with trace elements will become a trend in the future.

Evan Ryan said trace element biofortification of grains – supercharging them with elements such as zinc, boron, selenium or other micronutrients – was a novel way of solving human health and nutrition problems.


Mr Ryan said there was evidence overseas and in Australia that food manufacturers would pay for base ingredients, such as flour, which were biofortified with trace elements.

But he said any premiums for specialty crops would have to be driven by consumer demand.

Mr Ryan said Laucke Flour Mills in South Australia was selling Biofort Plus, a baker’s mix with high levels of selenium.

An international group operating out of Washington DC in the US was running Harvest Plus, a program trying to biofortify crops with trace elements through plant breeding. Funding came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The program aims to biofortify existing crops with iron, zinc or Vitamin A to help overcome malnutrition in Third World countries.

Mr Ryan said if consumer demand pushed food companies to pay for grain fortified with trace elements, it would be “good for farmers and good for consumers”.

He said farmers might be able to supercharge their crops with trace elements by adding them to fertiliser or foliar sprays.

As a Nuffield scholar, Mr Ryan travelled to four continents for six months last year looking at trace elements and their impact on human nutrition and health.

He will speak on crop trace elements at the grain farmer research update in Corowa next week run by Riverine Plains Inc and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Other speakers include CSIRO scientist Clive Kirkby, who will talk on the nutrients required to build organic matter and humus formation.

Barry Haskins, of the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, will speak on improving seeding systems, including maximising pre-emergent herbicide efficiencies and sowing equipment.

The research update will be held at the Corowa RSL on February 18 from 9am to 3pm.

The cost is $30 for Riverine Plain members and $40 for others, which includes proceedings, morning tea and lunch.

For more information and registration, email Fiona Hart at [email protected] or phone (03) 5744 1713.

The Corowa forum will be preceded by the GRDC farm adviser research update in Wagga Wagga next Tuesday and Wednesday. Topics include hybrid and genetically modified canola, biochar and how the Copenhagen climate summit will impact on Australian farmers.

Adrian Johnston, of the International Plant Nutrition Institute in Canada, will speak on cutting-edge nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser research from around the world, including foliar application of phosphorus.

The Wagga Wagga research update will be held at Charles Sturt University, starting at 9am on February 16 and 8.15am on February 17.

Via Weeklytimes Now