Growers head out yonder to Yuna!
Six Liebe Group growers set off on a 1,300km adventure from Dalwallinu to Yuna in late
August, thanks to support from the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council.
The first morning of the three day bus trip kicked off with a visit with Wayne Parker, DPIRD to his soil reengineering sites in Carnamah. The site had a heavy clay soil where the clay particles typically clogged the soil pores, reducing the rate of water infiltration and drainage. Due to the lack to drainage, the crops were experiencing transient salinity.
The aim of the proof-of-concept project is to re-engineer the soil by digging out soil pits, then mixing the soil with compost, biochar and wheat chaff and then placing the soil back. This is the first year of the trial so it will be exciting to see the results in 2024.
Wayne’s second trial is investigating the use of gravel mulch. It was quite a striking concept which has already seen doubling in plant biomass compared to full and half stubble and burnt sites.
The group continued our journey to Three Springs where we visited CSBP nitrogen trials with different stubble management practices and comparing different N inhibitors and N inputs. The stubble heights did not seem to have an effect on Nitrogen Use Efficiency.
Next, we visited Mingenew Irwin Group’s lupin nitrogen trial with Project Officer Courtney Humphrey where the lupins looked fantastic and were knee-height tall. AGT also presented on their wheat trial comparing different sowing depths and herbicide applications where generally, deeply sowed seeds had fewer plants. We then pushed on to our hotel in Geraldton and enjoyed a lovely evening with some fresh seafood.
The second day was the Yuna Spring Field Day where our team were kindly hosted by the Yuna Farm Improvement Group. An early morning start saw over 70 participants join the long carpool of cars, utes and buses through the local countryside visiting crop research trials. Focus areas included both canola and wheat variety trials, herbicide trials, fallow and stubble management and nitrogen capture.
The Elders herbicide trial highlighted the price tag of different spray mixtures. The plots had a lot less radish and perennial rye grasses at $57/ha compared to the $31/ha ones but interestingly, the $92/ha plots looked rather similar to cheaper options.
Nick Eyres gave a quick talk on N capture after vetch and legumes and the many possibilities of soil N pool management. With the current fertiliser prices, this might be the year to take advantage of existing N pools!
There were lots of discussions about different varieties, crop management tricks, and the potential policies that might be coming into place, restricting greenhouse emissions by growers. The day finished with a lovely sundowner.
On our last day, we visited Spring Park Farms where they are optimising green-on-green spraying. They get 93% efficiency in lupin fields, targeting radish and with the precise nozzle calibration, they can save up to 89% of chemicals.
Last but not least, we visited herbicide with disc seeding and safflower trials with Jack Sawyer from Crop Circle Consulting. If the conditions are right, safflowers can have higher returns than canola and wheat in Australia. They have a lot of genetic diversity and perhaps a bright future so keep an eye out for these thistle-looking plants!
A huge thanks to all of the researchers, industry and growers for hosting us along the way.