CSIRO research on Canola Varieties in the High Rainfall Zone

Kojonup’s Spring Field Day NVT tour looked at Southern Dirts Canola Trails and Dr Heping’s main take-home messages from the CSIRO research and his presentation on the day were:

  1. The CSIRO trials at Kojonup over the last five years showed that hybrid canola outyielded open-pollinated canola by 15-24% on average. Our economic analysis also showed that growing hybrid canola is more profitable than open-pollinated canola after considering the cost of hybrid seeds. Therefore, growers in the high rainfall (annual rainfall > 450mm)  zone of Western Australia can take advantage of hybrid canola. We recommend that growers gradually switch from open-pollinated canola to hybrids as growers increases their confidence in hybrids.
  2. The CSIRO trials at Kojonup showed that late flowering spring canola allows the crop to accumulate more biomass, set up high yield potential and produce a 5-13% higher yield than early flowering canola. If the early sowing opportunities present, growing late-flowering spring canola can also reduce the risk of frost.

GRDC funding for local farm trials

Southern Dirt have been awarded GRDC funding for several local projects of importance to our farmers. Through an extensive consultation with farmers we developed a priority list for funding and were successful in obtaining a number of grants.

The 4 trials we are implementing currently include:

Summer Cropping Demonstrations  – This project will be a demonstration of summer cropping and will evaluate the resultant impact on crop growth and yield on winter waterlogged soils in the Albany port zone.

Optimising Timing of Nitrogen – To enable growers to make timely and efficient nitrogen decisions by having a rule of thumb around the cost/benefit of feeding N to crops on waterlogged soils.

Ripper Gauge Trials – Growers will use the demonstration sites to increase knowledge and adoption of deep ripping and controlled traffic farming used for alleviating non-wetting soils, compaction and waterlogging on their particular soil types and farming systems.

Demonstrations of Legume Crops for Reliable Profitability –  The majority of growers in the port zones will have access to agronomy packages for pulses/legumes and to whole farm modelling tools for their own farms to determine if particular legumes are profitable in their system. 20% of growers will be actively using these tools to assess the risks and rewards in growing a legume for a break crop on their property by 2021.

DELIVERING ENHANCED AGRONOMIC STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVED CROP PERFORMANCE ON WATER REPELLENT SOILS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Funded by:                                           GRDC

Participating groups:                          SEPWA, Southern DIRT, West Midlands and Mingenew-Irwin

Project duration:                                  5 years (2014 – 2018)

Research advisor:                               Stephen Davies, DAFWA

Summary

Soil water repellence results in poor and variable water infiltration, incomplete wetting of soils and patchy and delayed crop, pasture and weed emergence. Soil water repellence significantly reduces crop and pasture productivity and typically results in (1) very inefficient use of soil water and nutrients, (2) poor weed control and (3) increased wind erosion risk. Nearly 3.3M hectares of Western Australia’s agricultural soils are at either affected by or at high risk of soil water repellence with a further 6.9M hectares at moderate risk. Estimates by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food suggest the opportunity cost from lost production due to water repellence is of the order of $250-330M per annum.

This project will provide opportunities to further enhance and refine management options for non-wetting soils; a particular benefit for Southern DIRT is that it will also provide a greater focus on water repellence on forest gravels in high rainfall south-west agricultural region. Understanding soil water repellence across a range of affected WA soil types and developing management options best suited to these soil types is a key aim of this project.

Together with other key grower groups including South East Premium Wheat Association (SEPWA), Mingenew-Irwin Group (MIG) and West Midlands Group (WMG), Southern DIRT will be supporting the field research, delivery and extension of project activities and will be providing important monitoring and evaluation feedback. Southern DIRT members will also be hosts to a number of demonstration sites which have been implemented this season, which will further address the need to be developing management options which are locally relevant.