Research statistical training on offer In SA and Victoria

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Grains researchers and agronomists in South Australia and Victoria are this year being offered statistical skills training support, thanks to the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry (SAGI) program.

Workshops aimed at upgrading the research statistical skills of grains industry practitioners will be held in Adelaide and Clare in SA throughout the year, and Birchip and Horsham in April.

The practical, interactive workshops are designed to foster widespread adoption of efficient and consistent statistical methods in agronomic research and practice to ultimately better inform growers’ decision making.

The GRDC launched phase three of its SAGI initiative in 2017, involving the creation of four nodes (three regional and one national) to deliver high quality statistical science to underpin the scientific rigour of hundreds of research investments.

The SAGI-3 investment over five years will be essential in supporting rapid advances in crop varieties, agronomic knowledge and farming practices – contributing to enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.

SAGI South is led by the University of Adelaide, with co-investment from the University and the South Australian Research and Development Institute, a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA. The SAGI South team is based at the Biometry Hub at the University’s Waite campus. The team leader is Dr Olena Kravchuk.

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In addition to providing statistical support to almost 40 research projects, SAGI South is presenting a capacity building program for statistical and data analytics skills in the region. The program is aimed at researchers, consultants and agronomists and includes four modules, according to SAGI South team member Sharon Nielsen, who manages the training program.

“We can now offer four modules to our training participants: the first is an introduction to ‘R’ which is a leading and open-source data analytics and statistical software which gives participants a common language for design, analysis and reporting; the second is an introduction to design of agronomy trials; the third is an introduction to analysis of agronomy trials; and we are now offering a concluding module which is an introduction to report writing with R,” Ms Nielsen says.

“Each module is one day long, with the exception of the introduction to analysis of agronomy trials module which is delivered over two days. Modules can be taken sequentially one by one on separate occasions over the calendar year or all together over a five-day session.

“Having researchers and agronomists skilled in using R software enables a quick dissemination of tailored and benchmark statistical procedures for design, data analysis and reporting in the region, improving the transparency and the quality of research and extension.

“The overall program is structured and designed so that participants can start from ‘ground zero’ – they learn to handle their data via the R software, progress to being able to design and conduct reproducible analyses of standard agronomy trials with simple responses, and finally present a quality report document, which can be revised by a statistician if necessary,” Ms Nielsen says.

Participants who completed all four modules are invited to participate in Q&A webinars conducted monthly by Ms Nielsen to help researchers and agronomists put their learning into the context of their trials.

In SA, Adelaide workshops will be on February 4-8, June 3-7, September 30-October 4, and November 4-8. Clare workshops will be from August 12-16.

In Victoria, the first module will be conducted at workshops in Birchip on April 3 and Horsham on April 4, the second module workshops will be at Birchip on April 5 and Horsham on April 8, and the third module workshops will be in Birchip on April 9-10 and Horsham on April 11-12. Dates are yet to be set for the fourth module workshops.

For personnel working on GRDC research investments, there is no charge to undertake the training. Workshop positions permitting, non-GRDC-supported parties can also attend for a cost-recovery level fee.

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