Bringing a little country to the city!

Date posted: 19 July 2013

Here at the Botanic Gardens it’s no secret that we love plants, so much so we grow thousands of different species. However, last year we realised our gardens were missing some of the most important plants – cereal crops.  Cereals such as wheat, barley, rice and oats help feed the world.  So, in recognition of their importance we have planted our own mini crop – right in the middle of Adelaide.  

Our feature crop for this year is barley. Following wheat, barley is the most widely grown crop in Australia. Each year Aussie farmers grow almost four million hectares of barley. This produces around 7.9 million tonnes of grain – or 316,000 semi trailer truck loads full! 

Australian farmers need to produce lots of good quality grain to feed humans and animals... Thankfully, Australia has some of the best scientists and farming groups which have worked hard to breed varieties suited to Australia’s weather conditions.  We have chosen to grow a new variety called Navigator. Navigator is resistant to many damaging plant diseases and produces large plump grains which are perfect for soups (pearl barley soups), barley artesian and speciality breads, breakfast cereals, muesli bars, stock feed and malting. Note that malted grains are used in milo, mars bars, maltesers, malted milk shakes, in stocks and gravies, plus for beer production.     

Our crop was sown on 7 May 2013 with the help of the SARDI research team and their ‘eight-row plot seeder’. The seeder drives along in straight lines preparing the soil... Baker boots (a fancy shovel) create a furrow in the soil, a seed tube then delivers the grain into the soil and specialist finger harrows (another type of shovel) covers the grain with soil. Each seed is planted four cm deep and the rows are spaced 150mm apart. 

With the combination of nutritious soil, a good rain and sunlight our crop will germinate in 8-12 days.

So come down to Adelaide Botanic Garden to see our barley crop for yourself. It will continue to change rapidly over the next few months and we will continue to track its process here, so watch this space!

Watch the video below to hear Rob Wheeler from SARDI talk about the planting of the barley seeds!