NVT is a national program of comparative crop variety testing with standardised trial management, data generation, collection and dissemination. The NVT program is part of GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation).

What is the National Variety Trials (NVT) program?

Answer: The National Variety Trials (NVT) program is an independent approach to variety evaluation, generating credible information for growers and advisors about newly released varieties. It is a national program established by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and includes the most advanced lines from all plant breeding programs in trials across Australia. NVT replaces the previous Crop Variety Trials which were also designed to aid public breeders in making their variety release decisions. Under the new system, breeders will be expected to make their release decisions prior to nominating lines for testing in the NVT. As a result, NVT data will be more relevant to growers as varieties in the trials will be close to public release.

What is the main purpose of NVT?

Answer: NVT aims to provide growers and their advisers with independent and sound information on the performance and characteristics of grain crop varieties, so that they can make valid comparisons between available varieties, including performance information from nearby regional evaluation trials.

Who manages the NVT program?

Answer: NVT is managed by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

What is GRDC?

Answer: The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is one of the world’s leading grains research organisations, responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing RD&E to deliver improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.

How is NVT funded?

Answer: NVT is solely funded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) except in Western Australia. In Western Australia, the GRDC and the State Department of Agriculture are partners and co-investors in NVT. The total annual GRDC investment for the NVT program is approximately $5.5 million. This includes the managements of the trials through the various regional Service Providers, the seed production of commercial cereal varieties for the following year’s trials from a common seed source and the overall NVT program management.  It also includes the development of disease resistance ratings for wheat, barley, triticale and canola by state department and university pathology groups.

What crops are tested in NVT trials?

Answer: The NVT program tests potential new varieties for Wheat, Barley, Canola, Chickpea, Faba Bean, Field Pea, Lentil, Lupin, Oat and Sorghum crops which are all broadacre, rainfed and winter crops. It does not test any summer crops such as Sorghum, Sunflowers or Maize.

How many trials are there?

Answer: More than 650 trials are sown at over 300 locations each year in the NVT system. An additional 100 National Breeding Initiative trial results are also reported upon to expand and enhance the information available.  More information can be found on the NVT Results & Reports webpage.

How are the NVT trials managed?

Answer: The NVT trials are managed by regionally based teams of trial operators from various private companies or public state departments. The trials are conducted in accordance with the established NVT protocols. The Service Providers for the current 2010-2015 project agreement are shown in the following table:
State Crop/s Region/s Service Provider
NSW All All NSW Department of Primary Industries
QLD All (Wheat, Barley, Chickpea) All QLD Department of Primary Industries
TAS Wheat Northern Midlands SFS
VIC All All except Mallee Agrisearch Services Pty Ltd
VIC All Mallee SARDI (via Dodgshun Medlin)
WA Wheat, Barley, Canola Agzone 1, 2, 4, part 5, 6 Kalyx Agriculture
WA Wheat, Barley, Canola Agzone 3, part 5 Agrisearch Services Pty Ltd
WA Chickpea, Field Pea, Lupin, Oat All DAFWA

How are varieties selected for inclusion?

Answer: The unreleased entries are nominated into the NVT program on a regional basis by the breeding programs. These lines have to meet the acceptance criteria of being “available to growers to purchase on commercial scale” within two years from the first year of nomination. Thus, each line will be tested for up to two years before it is available to growers. If a line is released, it will remain in the trial for more years, depending upon how well it is taken up by growers in that area. The commercial lines are selected using information on the uptake of varieties, delivery percentages across a state and from feedback by the NVT Advisory Committees.

Where do I get NVT results?

Answer: The NVT trial results are available online on the NVT website. Trial results are also published in state based sowing guides and other research organisations’ publications.

How is the data collected?

Answer: Information on the NVT trials is captured, stored and made available on the NVT website and database. NVT trial managers use a computer-based system that is able to facilitate the trial management process (creating trials, producing field books and labels) and well as store and manage data.

What data is collected?

Answer: Along with the yield and grain quality information, NVT also capture site characteristics. This includes soil test results, rainfall, sowing & harvest dates, fertilisers & chemicals applied and paddock rotation histories which are collected at every trial. Commercial variety information and disease resistance ratings are also collected and made available to the public.

When are NVT trial results delivered?

Answer: NVT aims to deliver results as soon as possible after harvest. Results should begin appearing on the website from late October each year and trials will continually be released through to mid-January.

Does it cost to access the web site or the data?

Answer: No, there is no cost. Access to the NVT trial results is free and publicly available without the need to login to the website or database. Login functionality exists on the NVT database to allow Trial Managers and Breeding company representatives to securely update or view confidential information.

Can I access the NVT results on browsers other than Internet Explorer?

Answer: Yes, the NVT website AND database will run on most internet browser programs including Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Chrome and many more. All public information can be accessed through the website on these browsers. Historically, trial managers and breeding companies logging into the NVT database to access confidential information needed to use Internet Explorer. However, this was upgraded in 2014 so all functionality was available across multiple browser platforms.

With favourable data, seed companies may benefit from the trials. Do they contribute funds or in-kind to the trials?

Answer: There is no direct monetary expense for plant breeding companies to enter varieties into the NVT program. Canola breeding companies provide seed of the commercial varieties used in the NVT trials as well their new promising lines. Breeding programs regularly visit NVT trials and are pivotal in providing feedback to help ensure integrity in the trials and the data produced. 

What are the sowing windows for NVT trials and how are they determined?

Answer: NVT trials have set sowing windows for each crop and trial type across the different regions of Australia. These sowing windows aim to follow district best practice and are determined with input from the region based NVT Advisory Committees. For wheat, the Long Season trials are sown as early as possible from April onwards. Early season trials are not usually after May 20, but because the Mayrung and Willbriggie sites in NSW are fully irrigated they are exempt from the May 20 cut-off as later sowing is less of an issue. The Main season window stretches from May to early June. Sometimes a partial or weak autumn break will result in conditions being too dry for wet seeding but too wet for dry seeding. This can delay the sowing of the Early season trials to more closely match that of the Main season trials. Varieties of similar maturity are grouped together in each of the Long, Early and Main season trials which allows each specific trial to be optimally managed for that particular maturity group. This eliminates the risk of have some varieties still green at harvest time while others are shattering or dropping heads.

Sowing and spraying equipment can have an impact on plant establishment and ultimately yield. Given the majority of farmers are no-till planting into stubble. Are trials planted into stubble, and what equipment is used to sow and spray each trial site? Is this common across all trial sites?

Answer: Some NVT trials are planted into stubbles, but this is not always possible at all sites. Trial managers tend to have one seeder to handle all seeding conditions and all crops, obviously on a much smaller scale than broad-acre farm equipment. Trash clearance can be an issue and heavy stubble loads can adversely affect the establishment of plants in a trial. This can have a drastic affect on the evenness of results in a small scale trial while being less significant in a broad-acre crop. Trials are generally sown with 6-8 tyne seeders spread across two or three bars for straw clearance. Spraying is most often done with ute mounted booms. The equipment is general similar, but not identical, across regions.

How are trial sites selected? When selecting a site for a trial, do researchers utilise paddock history and previous yield, biomass or EM maps to minimise variability of soil-type or geographic influence in the yield data?

Answer: NVT trial managers work very closely with the co-operators who own or manage the land where the trials are sown. They aim to sow trials into a paddock of the same surrounding crop type on a well drained site with even soil type, away from trees, fence lines, sheep camps and anything else that might add variability. Paddock histories are recorded and paddocks with weed, disease or herbicide residue problems are avoided.

Single-season NVT trial results vary every year due to variables like growing-season rainfall and other climate related influences. Given the season ahead is unlikely to replicate that of the previous year, are longer-term averaged results for any variety available to assist growers make varietal decisions that may better fit the long-term average?

Answer: Each year, a long term MET (Multi Environment Trial) analysis is conducted by biometricians from the Statistics for the Australian Grain Industry (SAGI) project funded by GRDC.  The MET analysis produces yield comparisons using data from trials across numerous years, but the exact time-frame varies depending on the crop being analysed. Long Term MET reports are developed for each crop type on a regional basis and are published on the NVT website. This is the best source of information to gauge variety performance over multiple years. 

Seed costs or royalties can vary significantly, particularly for GM varieties. Given this cost variation can play a part in variety selection, are seed prices or royalties associated with each variety published?

Answer: NVT are very wary that seed costs and royalties play an important part in variety selection, which is why the NVT website provides links to the Variety Central website. Variety Central is an information source for Australian grain growers and industry, encompassing plant breeding, seed commercialization, varieties, royalties and other relevant information. It is a joint initiative, developed by the EPR (End Point Royalty) steering committee.

NVT Resource Library