Southern Dirt & Stirlings to Coast Farmers
Two years (2019-2021) Project extension to March 2021
- Jono Clifton – Ryansbrook 2018/19 (Discontinued)
- Harold Wass – Mayanup 2019/2020
Emma Russell and Tracey Hodgkins, Southern Dirt
The summer cropping demonstration sites were sown at two different stages in the season. Ryansbrook 35 km South West of Kojonup was sown 4th October 2018 into moisture and the Woodgenellup trial was dry sown on the 30th January 2019.
According to our producer rainfall records, since 2003, every four out of the five years they have had summer rainfall events in January and February. Unfortunately, in the 2018/19 summer there was minimal summer rainfall and the summer crops run out of moisture.
The C4 grasses persisted better with little to no moisture in the soil profile compared to the broadleaf crop types
More data is still to be collected including the following winter crop.
Albany and Esperance port zone growers who frequently experience waterlogging will know if ripping and/or summer/cover crops are viable tools to improve crop establishment, crop rooting depth, and yield in a waterlogging year on their property.
The Ryansbrook site was seeded on the 4th October 2018 to Ebony Cowpeas, Pearler Millet, Hyola 970CL and Sprint Sorghum with good germination. The site was grazed in January. With no significant summer rainfall events the summer crops did not persist, and the site was discontinued.
With grower interest in summer cropping continuing, GRDC has extended the project, and a further site has been in located in Mayanup.
The most valuable contribution that summer cropping can provide to farming systems into the Albany port zone is the potential increase in cropping area on individual farms (arable land). On current low capability areas, producers have been planting deep rooted perennial and/or annual pastures or accepting reduced winter crop yields and quality. Perennial and annual pasture phases ‘lock’ producers into a type of farming system whereby there is a phase that progresses more than one season. Short season summer cropping may enable producers to reap the benefits of a deep-rooted species and still plant a profitable and sustainable crop in the winter
Southern Dirt will collaborate with Stirlings to Coast Farmers to deliver two summer cropping demonstration trials.
The aim of the current project is to identify if summer cropping is a viable tool to improve crop establishment, crop rooting depth and yield in a waterlogging year. It will determine if summer cropping is a viable management farming system tool to increase winter crop area.
Two summer cropping sites have been established in the Albany Port zone in 2018/2019. The trials were established in Ryansbrook near Kojonup, and Woodgenellup near Mt Barker. Both sites experience high rainfall and waterlogging during the growing season. The trial design for both sites was pre- approved by SAGI wet prior to trials being implemented.
Pre seeding soil samples were collected from each site with 0 – 10cm and 10 – 30m samples collected. Predicta B tests were also taken and sent away for analysis.
Host: Jono Clifton, Fairbanks
The trial was seeded on the 4th October 2018 after a cumulative 10 mm rainfall event 1st – 3rd October 2018.
Table 1. Crop types for Ryansbrook site with seeding rate (kg/ha) and seeding depth (mm).
Figure 1. Diagram of the layout for Ryansbrook Summer Cropping demonstration sown on 4th October 2018. Each air-seeder strip was approximately 200 m long and 11 m wide.
Table 2. Summary of the rainfall over the previous seven months at Frankland. Data taken from the BOM weather station ‘Frankland’ (009635).
The site was knocked down with 3 L/ha of paraquat on the 3rd October 2018. The crops were sown with 80 kg/ha of MAP down the tube at seeding.
The site had an insecticide spray of 300 ml/ha of Affirm with a surfactant applied on the 3rd November 2018, targeting diamond back moth and green peach aphids. A second spray was followed up on the 6th December 2018. The site was grazed between the 10th January to the 17th January 2019.
Plant establishment counts were collected on the 13th December with four counts of one metre taken at 20 m intervals (three locations) along the plots with a total of 12 counts each plot.
NDVI assessments were collected from the trial on 13th December 2018 and 8th January 2019. The Green seeker was held one metre above the crop and run from left to right across the plot rows. This was repeated three times in each plot over a ten metre distance.
The demonstration site germinated well with plenty of moisture in the soil. In January the site only had 2 mm of rain and nil rainfall in February. The trial was grazed in January and the sheep were able to utilise the green feed available. By the end of January after no rainfall and grazing, the crops were struggling. The C4 grass seemed to persist compared to the broadleaf crops which had died.
WOODGENELLUP (Stirlings To Coast Farmers)
Hosts: Brad and Steve Lync, Wilgi Creek
The trial was knocked down on the 27th January 2019 with 3 L/ha of Paraquat. The demonstration was dry sown on the 30th January 2019. It was sown with 60 kg/ha MAPSZC: MOP mix (Ratio) 5:1.
Table 3. Crop types for Woodgenellup site with seeding rate (kg/ha) and seeding depth (mm).
Table 4. Summary of the rainfall over the previous five months at Mt Barker. Data taken from the BOM weather station ‘Mt Barker’ (009581). Approximately 20 mm of rain on 7th March 2019, which should see the crops in the demonstration germinate from.
Figure 2. Diagram of the layout for Lynch’s Summer Cropping demonstration sown on 30th January 2019. Each air-seeder strip was approximately 250 m long. The trial was sown in very dry soil.
The trial was dry sown late January before a rainfall event. Since the trial has been sown the site has received 35 mm of rain, while the germination has been patchy the moisture has allowed the plants that have grown to develop biomass.
The host growers Lynches main aim for summer cropping has always been to dry out the soil profile to reduce waterlogging during the winter cropping season. The growers are keenly interested to see if there will be any difference between the treatments in the coming growing season regarding reduced waterlogging stress.
The site germinated well, there were good plant numbers in many of the plots, however there was the odd bare patch where no plants had germinated. We were unable to complete the third NDVI reading as the crop had died at that point with no greenness observed.
Table 5. Averaged NDVI readings and plants per square metre from the 13th December 2018, and the 7th January 2019, at the Ryansbrook Summer Cropping demonstration site 2018/19.
Figure3a. Sprint sorghum and hyola 970 CL (on top), and pearler millet (on bottom), photographed at Ryansbrook Summer Cropping Demonstration 13th December 2018.
Figure3b. Sprint sorghum and hyola 970 CL (on top), and pearler millet (on bottom), photographed at Ryansbrook Summer Cropping Demonstration 13th December 2018.
Figure 4. Sprint sorghum (left), and ebony cowpea (right), photographed at Ryansbrook Summer Cropping Demonstration 29th January 2019.
Figure 5. Hyola 970 CL (left), and ebony cowpea (right), photographed at Woodgenellup 21st March 2019.
There does not appear to be any major differences between crops and soil depth recached with the push rod assessments at the Woodgenellup trial.
Table 6. Averaged NDVI readings from the Woodgenellup Summer Cropping Demonstration 17th April 2019.
Ideally a summer crop would normally be sown in December to give it the opportunity to develop significant biomass, however with not much opportunity from lack of rainfall and harvest, this was the best possible date to sow the trial. It has performed well despite the late sowing date.
The host grower (The Lynches) main aim for summer cropping has always been to dry out the soil profile to reduce waterlogging during the winter cropping season. The growers are keenly interested to see if there will be any difference between the treatments in the coming growing season regarding reduced waterlogging stress.
Figure 6. Penetrometer measurements depth (cm) from the summer crop treatments with ripping strips implemented at Woodgenellup site in 2019.
Figure 7. Penetrometer measurements depth (cm) from the unripped summer crop treatments at Woodgenellup site in 2019.
The Ryansbrook trial germinated well and utilised the rainfall from October to December 2018. The crops started to run out of moisture with only 2 mm recorded over January and February, 2019.
There are more data to be collected from the summer cropping demonstration, including soil testing before the winter crop is sown.
The Ryansbrook site ripping strip will be implemented with a Plozza Plough at the end of March 2019.
According to our producer rainfall records, since 2003, out of the five years we have had summer rainfall events over the months of January and February. In the 2018/19 summer, there was minimal rainfall. This negatively affected the crops moisture content.
The Ryansbrook grower was able to utilise the small amount of green feed available from the summer crop, with the sheep not only eating the crop but also the summer weeds; which is likely to improve weed control in the following winter crop.
The C4 grasses persisted with little to no moisture in the soil profile compared to the broadleaf crop types by the end of February 2019.
Due to the dry summer in the Albany Port Zone, the Stirlings to Coast Farmers trial was delayed, and dry sown on the 30th January 2019. There was 6 mm of rainfall the week prior to the sowing of the demonstration, with a significant rainfall forecast a few days after the sowing date.