Crop response to deep ripping across Mallee soils

Background

Deep ripping has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the production of crops grown on deep sandy soils across the Mallee. However, farmers within this region must manage multiple soil types within each paddock, and therefore need to know which of these soils are responsive to deep ripping and which are not. This trial site was established near Kooloonong in 2021 to identify which Mallee soil types should be deep ripped to return an economic benefits to Mallee farmers.


Method

A trial site was established across multiple soil types within a Mallee paddock grading from a deep sand on top of a dune to sandy loam mid-slope to clay loam on the swale. The site was a collection of 30 smaller trials from the transition from dune to swale. Each trial shared the following deep ripping treatments:

  • Depth of ripping: 300 mm v 500 mm deep
  • Timing of ripping: Early (2 months prior to sowing) v Late immediately prior to sowing


The intention of the timing of ripping treatments was to compare ripping when the soil was to deep ripping when the soil moisture content was higher. However, there was minimal rainfall at the site from the early ripping treatment (March) until the end of May. Therefore the second timing treatment was undertaken in early June before the site was sown on the 11th of June to Commodus barley.


Results

  • Positions 1-7 were the sandiest trial site locations and at each of these there was a large response to deep ripping.  Across all treatments the average yield benefit for the first 7 trial location was 0.7 t/ha. 
  •  At trial position 8 there was an abrupt change where the crop was not responsive to deep ripping at that soil type location.  There was no response to deep ripping from positions 8 to 14 where soil was much drier than the sand and the texture tended to be a loamier soil type. 
  • From positions 15-22 the soil type gradually increased in texture and had visible free lime present.  Across this group of soils there was a negative response to deep ripping.
  • Positions 23-29 had the highest clay content and across this zone there was a negative response to ripping to 500mm close to seeding.
  • Bay 30 abruptly transitioned back to a sandy loam soil texture and this corresponded with a strong response to deep ripping at this location.
Figure 1. Grain yield of barley at 30 separate trial locations on transitioning from a deep sandy on top of a dune to a clay loam on the swale. 

360 Virtual Tour

Double click for full screen


Acknowledgements

This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority with funding from the Australian Government.

Pulse crop x variety response to deep ripping at Tempy, 2021


Background and Method

Research over the previous two seasons (2019-2020) had shown that deep ripping led to substantial yield increases for most pulse crops grown on deep sands where pulse productivity is normally constrained.

Four separate trials were established on a sandy soil near Tempy in 2021 to continue to investigate the potential for deep ripping to increase the production of pulse crops grown on deep sandy soils within the Central Mallee region. 

Four leading commercial varieties or breeding line for each trial
Crop management details for each of the four trials

3d Model of the Central Mallee Tempy site, Captured August, 2021


360 Virtual Tours

A virtual experience was created on 5th of October, 2021 for each pulse crop in this trial


Results

Deep ripping resulted in significant yield increase for each crop (Figure 2-5).

For all pulse crops sown in our Central Mallee 2021 trial, the average grain yield produced was approximately 0.5 t/ha without ripping.

Crops sown following deep ripping, average grain yields were close to 1.5 t/ha for chickpea, field pea and faba bean. Average grain yield for lentils were 1 t/ha.

The percentage yield increase for each crop is shown below:

  • Chickpea: 236%
  • Faba Bean: 161%
  • Field Pea: 131%
  • Lentil: 79%

For each of the four pulse crops in this trial four different varieties were grown.

The variety selection has only affected grain yield in field peas, varieties PBA Butler and OZP1901 produced higher grain yield than the variety PBA Oura.


Acknowledgements

This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority with funding from the Australian Government.

The research featured in this virtual field day was completed as part of the Southern Pulse Agronomy project which is funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Agriculture Victoria. The trials are a collaboration between Frontier Farming Systems and Agriculture Victoria

Boosting profit and reducing risk on mixed farms in low and medium rainfall areas with newly discovered legume pastures enabled by innovative management methods

Background

The uptake of new pasture legume varieties in the Victorian Mallee is currently low. Annual medic and vetch remain the dominant crop choices however, there are a range of new pasture varieties which have potential in low to medium rainfall environments. A number of these pasture legumes come from the Western Australian breeding program and have limited evaluation in the Mallee. They possess different maturities, growth habits and are generally suited to neutral to acidic soil types.

A significant obstacle to the adoption of new pastures legumes is the high cost of pasture seed and difficulty in establishment. A feature of some of the new pastures under investigation is their aerial seeded habit and retention of seed, allowing seed to be grower harvested and re-sown with standard cropping equipment. This is in comparison to traditional medic pastures which require costly vacuum harvesting equipment.

The majority of medic and vetch currently sown in the region is established in autumn. A number of the new pasture legumes contain hard seed characteristics that provides a viable pasture after many cropping phases. The capacity to employ alternative establishment methods such as twin (sown with crop before the pasture phase) and summer sowing has been a particularly effective strategy across regions of NSW and Western Australia under a range of growing conditions including extreme drought (Nutt et al. 2021). Hard seeded pasture legumes offer capacity to develop flexible crop-pasture rotation systems that exploit this characteristic. Summer sowing was developed to utilise the opportunity of being able to header harvest pasture legume seed easily on farm and then successfully establish a pasture without needing to further process the seed. This project is examining the potential of different pasture legume species to be established more efficiently, reduce establishment costs and improve productivity from greater water use efficiency.

Aims

The Dryland Legumes Pasture Systems (DLPS) project was undertaken to improve the quality of annual pastures on mixed farms receiving less than 450 mm annual rainfall in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. A multi-season trial was established at Piangil, Victoria and aimed to;

  1. Aid growers with the selection of new pastures in comparison to traditional medic and vetch crops
  2. Improve pasture establishment using novel sowing strategies
  3. Assess seedbank regeneration of new pasture legumes
  4. Evaluate the harvestability of pastures using standard harvesting equipment
  5. Quantify the farming system benefits of regenerating legume pasture systems

Method

A replicated trial was established at Piangil from 2018 to 2021. The trial included 3 main plots (establishment method) x 7 subplots (pasture variety) x 4 replicates. The three establishment methods were used;

  • Twin-sown, where ‘hard’ pasture seed/pod was sown with Compass barley seed on 28 June 2018 for pasture establishment in 2019
  • Summer-sown (7 February 2019), where ‘hard’ seed/pod was sown in summer and softens to establish on the autumn break
  • Autumn-sown (control treatment), where ‘soft’ germinable seed is sown on the break   (13 May 2019) of the season
Figure 1. Pasture establishment methods (Flohr et al. 2022).

Seven pasture species were evaluated in this trial, Annual Medic, Biserrula, Bladder clover, Gland clover, Rose clover, Serradella and Trigonella.

The seeding rate of the pasture legumes was calculated on the basis of providing each species and establishment method with 100 germinable seeds/m2 in autumn 2019 (Table 3). This took into account seed regeneration from twin sowing and ‘soft’ seed percentages. Any 2018 germination from the twin sowing which remained in 2019 was chemically removed. Two comparison treatments were also sown in 2019: Barley to represent a continuous cereal system and autumn sown vetch that was browned manured in spring.

In 2020 the entire trial was sown to Catapult wheat on 28 April by direct drilling into the existing pasture, barley and vetch plots. Basal fertiliser was applied as 62.5 kg/ha of DAP S Z with 43 kg/ha urea top dressed on all plots on 19 June 2020. All pasture species were allowed to regenerate in 2021.

Pasture species included in this trial

Results

2019 Pasture Establishment and Production

Twin and summer sowing strategies were useful tactics when compared to conventional autumn sowing for some varieties. For bladder clover, gland clover and rose clover similar establishment rates were achieved from either autumn or twin sowing. Interestingly summer sowing was best strategy for Serradella and Trigonella. Autumn sowing was the best timing for Biserrula and annual medic.

Several new pasture legumes produced similar dry matter compared to commonly grown annual medic under tough growing where the site received less than half its long-term seasonal rainfall. Rose clover and bladder clover dry matter production was comparable to annual medic (Table 2). Biserrula and Serradella produced the next highest dry matter followed by Trigonella and gland clover.  However, all regenerating pastures had lower production than the sown vetch treatment.  Vetch which was terminated in September, still produced 3.2 t/ha of biomass. Similarly, the continuous cereal treatment was highly productive in the first year and produced a grain yield of 2.8 t/ha.


Break effects in the 2020 Wheat Crop

2020 pre-sowing soil nitrogen (kg N/ha, 0-1 m) , wheat grain yield (t/ha) and protein content (%) in response to seven pasture legumes, vetch and wheat sown in autumn 2019 at Piangil, Victoria.

Soil available nitrogen at the beginning of 2020 was high for all pasture species. The continuous cereal treatment has the lowest soil available nitrogen at 22 kg N/ha, clearly showing the benefit of having break crops in the system. All other pasture treatments and vetch had soil available nitrogen levels which ranged between 102 and 116 kg N/ha. Wheat grain yield and protein results highlighted the longer-term benefits of pasture systems. The continuous cereal treatment had the lowest grain yield of 1.8 t/ha and 10.7% protein. This was expected due to the low starting soil nitrogen (22 kg N/ha) compared to all other treatments. For all pasture and vetch varieties there was little difference in grain yield ranging 2.6 – 2.8 t/ha.  Grain protein levels were consistent across the pasture and vetch treatments averaging 12.3%


Pasture regeneration 2021

Pasture regeneration was adequate (>200 plants/m2) for five of the seven pastures in year three. Rose clover, bladder clover, annual medic, biserrula and gland clover were all greater than 231 plants/m2. The lowest regeneration at Piangil was observed for Serradella and Trigonella. Seredella has shown a number of favourable characteristics across the first two seasons in terms of biomass production and benefits to the following wheat crop.

However, in year three its persistence through the cropping phase was low which would be a problem for growers who want to maintain a seedbank. Dry matter regeneration was highest for Biserrula and rose clover across four sampling dates).  At various sampling times other pastures were also high yielding, for example, in September annual medic dry matter was higher than the other pasture options. Later in the season bladder clover and Serradella maintained similar biomass compared to Biserulla and rose clover.


360 Virtual Tour

Double click for full screen


Acknowledgements

This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority with funding from the Australian Government.

This project was supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation. The research partners include the South Australian Research and Development Institute, Murdoch University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Charles Sturt University, as well as grower groups.

Demonstration of French Serradella on soils in the Mallee

Background

Local research projects have found that French Serradella has the potential to provide a fodder option on Mallee sandy soils where lupins are normally grown. The potential benefits that serradella in the Mallee include:
• Adaptation to deep infertile, coarse textured soils
• Deep rooting and produces an extended green feed period compared to most annual legumes
• Potential for seed collection and cleaning with on-farm equipment
• Tolerance to pH (4.0< pHCa <7.5)
• Good tolerance to redlegged earth mite and aphids
• Very palatable to stock and high nutritive value
• No major anti-nutritional properties

There is also potential for Serradella to be established using novel methods aimed at reducing the cost of pasture establishment and improving productivity from greater water use efficiency. The methods are:
• Twin sowing where hard seed/pod is sown with the crop before the pasture phase. Little or no pasture is expected to establish in the crop phase. Hard seed “softens” over the summer period and germinates to produce a viable pasture in the following autumn.
• Summer sowing is where hard seed/pod is sown in the summer prior to the pasture phase where the hard seed “softens” and germinate to produce a viable pasture in autumn.

Demonstration Sites

A one hectare French Serradella demonstrations site was dry sown on the 1st of March at Ouyen. This site was was sown to lupin in 2019 and cereal in 2020. Treatment strips were 100 m long and ran from the near peak of an east west sand dune to the neighbouring flat. The site was intersected into 3 zones described as hill, mid-slope and flat. A block of Volga vetch was sown alongside to provide a comparative assessment of current local practice. The 0-10 cm soil pH (CaCl2) was less than 7 only on the hill location at Ouyen, increasing to more than 8 on the flat.

There was no measurable rain from seeding in March until late May. Rainfall was approximately 100 mm for the period from the end of May through to the end of September. A further 60 mm in October/November resulted in a total GSR of near 160 mm at both sites.

Serradella produced an extra 1 to 1.5 tonne biomass than vetch on the hill while vetch produced an extra 1 to 1.5 tonne of biomass to serradella on the midslope and flat (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Total serradella and vetch biomass (tDM/ha) in the 3 soil zones, at 3 sampling times at Ouyen.

360 Virtual Tour

Double click for full screen


Recommendations

The demonstration sites show that serradella could provide a dual purpose (hay, grain, grazing) alternative to vetch on neutral to acidic deep sandy Mallee soils. These soil types are where lupins are commonly grown. Serradella can also provide operational benefits over vetch such as summer sowing and lower seeding rates.

To successfully establish a French serradella phase pasture we recommend:

  • Sowing in February early March. The time of seeding is necessary to continue the rate of seed softening of the shallow sown seedpods.
  • Sowing on-farm produced seedpod at 5 to 20 kg/ha. The seeding rate is based on the small seedpod size (10 kg/ha = ~250 seedpods/m2).  A soft seeded cultivar such as Eliza requires sowing at 5 kg/ha while 20 kg/ha is required for a hard-seeded cultivar such as Margurita pod.
  • Serradella and lupin share the same rhizobia species for inoculation(Group G/S rhizobia).  A history of lupin in the paddock reduces the the risk of inadequate nodulation and the need for inoculation, particularly where summer sowing of pod is used to establish the pasture.
  • Chemical weed control options include post-seeding pre-emergent Spinnaker (not Simazine) and/or post-emergent Broadstrike and grass selective herbicides plus a spring insecticide for Heliothis control.

Acknowledgements

This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority with funding from the Australian Government.

This project was supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation. The research partners include the South Australian Research and Development Institute, Murdoch University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Charles Sturt University, as well as grower groups.

Erosion Victoria, December 2021

Second visit during the 2021 Summer season to reassess the Victorian site locations from Autumn. Monitoring erosion risk based on dry aggregates and groundcover percentages.

This farm is located west of Merbein South in the Millewa.

Victoria, Grazed and Ungrazed

2021 Summer Erosion Victoria Grazed and Ungrazed

1. Grazed is a sandy loam which was bare through 2019, but established a crop in 2020 and where electric fencing was used to protect the eastern side of the paddock from grazing. 2. Ungrazed is a sandy loam on the western grazed side of the paddock directly adjacent to 1. Grazed. Summer monitoring showed 1. ground cover of 46% and dry aggregate of 24% with a medium risk of erosion and 2. Ungrazed with ground cover of 67% and dry aggregate of 39% with a low risk of erosion

1 Grazed
2. Ungrazed

360 Virtual Site

Victoria, Flat Calcareous Soil

2021 Summer Erosion Victoria Flat Calcareous Soil

Flat Calcareous Soil is a poor calcareous sandy loam flat that blew through 2018 and 2019 but established crop in 2020. Being near sheep feeders it has attracted reasonable grazing pressure and sheep tracks. Summer monitoring showed 3. Flat Calcareous Soil with ground cover of 27% and dry aggregate of 49% with a medium risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Victoria, Sandy Soil

2021 Summer Erosion Victoria Sandy Soil

Sandy Soil or Sandy Loam during Summer monitoring showed 4. Sandy Soil with ground cover of 48% and dry aggregate of 27% with a medium risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Acknowledgments

This project “Practical tactics to improve ground cover and ensure soil preservation following successive low rainfall seasons” (MSF2010-002SAX) has been funded by GRDC.

Thank you to our landholder collaborators Ben Pollard, NSW, and Chris Hunt, VIC, for their time and input. 

Erosion New South Wales, December 2021

Second visit during the 2021 Summer season to reassess the New South Wales site locations from Autumn. Monitoring erosion risk based on dry aggregates and groundcover percentages.

This farm is located northwest of Wentworth, with very low rainfall and high kangaroo pressure during drought.

New South Wales, Calcareous Soil

2021 Summer Erosion NSW Calcareous Soil

Calcareous Soil is described as the poor calcareous loam that grows very poorly in dry years and is very prone to wind erosion. Summer monitoring ground cover of 16% and dry aggregate of 43% with a medium risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, Low Graze

2021 Summer Erosion NSW Low Graze

Low Graze is a sandy loam rise at the north end of the paddock that would have attracted the least amount of grazing since harvest. During the drought years kangaroos came through from the north baring out this area and contributing to the erosion. It is intended to compare this with site 4. High Graze which is on a similar soil type, but in an area of higher sheep activity. Summer monitoring showed ground cover of 74% and dry aggregate of 30% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, Eroded Mid Slope

2021 Summer Erosion NSW Eroded Mid Slope

Eroded Mid Slope is an exposed mid slope that has lost top soil down to a clay base, resulting in very patchy crop growth in 2020. This means that it has a high dry aggregation, but not for the right reasons. The farmer is looking to drag some sand back over this site to be able to re-establish crop growth. Summer monitoring showed ground cover of 9% and dry aggregate of 60% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, High Graze

2021 Summer Erosion NSW High Graze

High Graze is within the same paddock but at the south eastern corner near a trough, thus attracting far more grazing activity since crop harvest on this sandy loam area. Summer monitoring showed ground cover of 76% and dry aggregate of 26% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Acknowledgments

This project “Practical tactics to improve ground cover and ensure soil preservation following successive low rainfall seasons” (MSF2010-002SAX) has been funded by GRDC.

Thank you to our landholder collaborators Ben Pollard, NSW, and Chris Hunt, VIC, for their time and input. 

AWI Improving sheep nutrition core samples

Improving sheep nutrition through assessment of regional feed base deficiencies

Background

The low rainfall Mallee of NSW, Victoria and SA covers around 7 million hectares and is an important wool-growing region, with 70% of farmers running mixed farming enterprises.

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) has identified a knowledge gap that exists around feed and nutrition values in the low rainfall zone. Feedback from MSF members has identified the need for a better understanding of the digestibility, energy value and mineral content of a number of low rainfall pastures, in addition to a range of crop types not traditionally considered for grazing.

Farmers are looking to build flock numbers or reintroduce sheep, however, to manage risk and seasonal variability there needs to be flexibility in grazing management and more information available to address nutritional deficiencies in low rainfall pastures and alternative grazing crops such as pulses.

The aims of this project are:

  • Identify the nutritional value and mineral content of a range of Mallee pastures and grazing crops.
  • Develop a dataset of the nutritional value and mineral content of low rainfall pastures for use by producers and industry.
  • Increase producer confidence in making sheep management decisions by using the data in Lifetime Ewe Management training delivered in low rainfall regions.

Podcast


In this MSF Farm Talk Podcast Episode, Hamish Dickson, Principal Livestock Consultant, AgriPartner Consulting discusses:

  • How feed varies in different environments and why this project is so important for Mallee farmers.
  • The types of pastures we will be targeting and what we are measuring in this project.
  • The key differences we need to be mindful of when it comes to animal health and nutrition in low rainfall environments.
  • The benefits of being part of a Lifetime ewe group and what farmers can get out of it.
  • Plus more!


Methodology

The six different pasture types have been sampled throughout the year at various Mallee locations. Each pasture sample was analysed by feed test to provide a comprehensive analysis of feed quality. Each of the tabs provides a summary of the Crude Protein, Metabolsable Energy and Digestibility of the “green” and “dry” components of each pasture type at different sample times throughout the season. Please contact the project team to access a comprehensive analysis report for each sample than contains the following data:
• Moisture
• Dry Matter
• Crude Protein
• Neutral Detergent Fibre,
• Digestibility (of Dry Matter and of Organic Dry Matter)
• Metabolisable Energy
• Water Soluble Carbohydrates
• Acid Detergent Fibre
• Minerals: (Boron, Calcium, Chloride, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Sulphur, Zinc, Cobalt, Molybdenum, Selenium)

For Further information please contact MSF:


This project is monitoring the annual pasture growth and quality cycle for six pasture options available to Mallee farmers.  The following pasture options were monitored in 2020 and 2021

2020 Results


2021 Results


Lentil Varieties for the Northern Mallee, Pinnaroo


Trial Methodology

The trial was sown on the 15th of May. Each variety was sown at the seeding rates specified in the table below. The trial was sown with a tyned seeder fitted with paired row Root Boot. Granulock Z was supplied as starter fertliser at 50 kg/ha. All varieties were inoculated with a group E/F Tagteam Granular. Simazine (200 g/ha), Diuron (200 g/ha) were applied as pre-emergent herbicides and were incorporated before sowing (IBS).


Pinnaroo Lentil Trial Results
Lentils produced excellent grain yields in 2020 with PBA Jumbo2 topping the trial with 3.4 t/ha.
PBA Highland, PBA Bolt, GIA Leader and PBA Hurricane all had similar grain yields.
Grain yields of PBA Hallmark and PBA Kelpie were significantly less than PBA Jumbo2, PBA Highland and PBA Bolt.


Acknowledgement
This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

The research featured in this virtual field day was completed as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded project:
• Understanding the implications of new traits on the adaption, crop physiology and management of pulses in the southern region (DAV00150)
This trial was managed by Frontier Farming Systems and Agricultural Victoria

Erosion New South Wales, March 2021

Initial visit during the 2021 Autumn season to assess the New South Wales site locations. Monitoring erosion risk based on dry aggregates and groundcover percentages.

This farm is located northwest of Wentworth, with very low rainfall and high kangaroo pressure during drought.

New South Wales, Calcareous Soil

2021 Erosion NSW Calcareous Soil

Calcareous Soil is described as the poor calcareous loam that grows very poorly in dry years and is very prone to wind erosion. Autumn monitoring showed a residue height of 25cm, ground cover of 32% and dry aggregate of 48% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, Low Graze

2021 Erosion NSW Low Graze

Low Graze is a sandy loam rise at the north end of the paddock that would have attracted the least amount of grazing since harvest. During the drought years kangaroos came through from the north baring out this area and contributing to the erosion. It is intended to compare this with site 4. High Graze which is on a similar soil type, but in an area of higher sheep activity. Autumn monitoring showed a residue height of 28cm, ground cover of 69% and dry aggregate of 22% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, Eroded Mid Slope

2021 Erosion NSW Eroded Mid Slope

Eroded Mid Slope is an exposed mid slope that has lost top soil down to a clay base, resulting in very patchy crop growth in 2020. This means that it has a high dry aggregation, but not for the right reasons. The farmer is looking to drag some sand back over this site to be able to re-establish crop growth. Autumn monitoring showed a residue height of 6cm, ground cover of 14% and dry aggregate of 66% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

New South Wales, High Graze

2021 Erosion NSW High Graze

High Graze is within the same paddock but at the south eastern corner near a trough, thus attracting far more grazing activity since crop harvest on this sandy loam area. Autumn monitoring showed a residue height of 20cm, ground cover of 59% and dry aggregate of 17% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Acknowledgments

This project “Practical tactics to improve ground cover and ensure soil preservation following successive low rainfall seasons” (MSF2010-002SAX) has been funded by GRDC.

Thank you to our landholder collaborators Ben Pollard, NSW, and Chris Hunt, VIC, for their time and input. 

Erosion Victoria, March 2021

Initial visit during the 2021 Autumn season to assess the Victorian site locations. Monitoring erosion risk based on dry aggregates and groundcover percentages.

This farm is located west of Merbein South in the Millewa.

Victoria, Grazed and Ungrazed

2021 Erosion Victoria Grazed and Ungrazed

1. Grazed is a sandy loam which was bare through 2019, but established a crop in 2020 and where electric fencing was used to protect the eastern side of the paddock from grazing. 2. Ungrazed is a sandy loam on the western grazed side of the paddock directly adjacent to 1. Grazed. Autumn monitoring showed 1. Grazed with a residue height of 9cm, ground cover of 63% and dry aggregate of 25% with a low risk of erosion and 2. Ungrazed with a residue height of 1cm, ground cover of 13% and dry aggregate of 19% with a high risk of erosion

1. Ungrazed
2. Grazed

360 Virtual Site

Victoria, Flat Calcareous Soil

2021 Erosion Victoria Flat Calcareous Soil

Flat Calcareous Soil is a poor calcareous sandy loam flat that blew through 2018 and 2019 but established crop in 2020. Being near sheep feeders it has attracted reasonable grazing pressure and sheep tracks. Autumn monitoring showed 3. Flat Calcareous Soil with a residue height of 1cm, ground cover of 13% and dry aggregate of 19% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Victoria, Sandy Soil

2021 Erosion Victoria Sandy Soil

Sandy Soil or Sandy Loam during Autumn monitoring showed 4. Sandy Soil with a residue height of 11cm, ground cover of 47% and dry aggregate of 22% with a low risk of erosion

360 Virtual Site

Acknowledgments

This project “Practical tactics to improve ground cover and ensure soil preservation following successive low rainfall seasons” (MSF2010-002SAX) has been funded by GRDC.

Thank you to our landholder collaborators Ben Pollard, NSW, and Chris Hunt, VIC, for their time and input. 

Sandy Soils – Sands Impact Validation Trial, Ouyen 2020

Background

Sub-optimal productivity is commonly reported for the deep sands that make up 20 to 30% of the cropping soils in the low rainfall Victorian Mallee region. Diagnosis of local constraints have pointed to low fertility and the physical restriction of rooting depth as the most likely constraints to production on sands in the Victorian Mallee. To explore this further, a trial was established at Ouyen in 2017 to investigate the potential the interactions between crop water use, physical disturbance by rotary spading, and the incorporation of organic amendments.

Methods

Treatments
Six different types of organic matter were incorporated to a depth of 30 cm depth in 2017 using a one pass spade and sow operation (Table 1). Each organic amendment was applied at a rate which supplied 2.5 t/ha of carbon, but varied in carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Spaded organic matter treatments were also compared to spading only, spaded urea (supplying equivalent quantity of N as vetch hay) and a non-spaded control.

Management
The trial was sown to barley in 2017 with subsequent years rotating between wheat and barley. Each season the trial received DAP S Z (16:17:0:8; 0.5%Zn) @ 62.5 kg/ha at seeding and 47 kg/ha of Ammonium Sulphate and a foliar application of copper, zinc and manganese was applied during tillering.


TreatmentApplication Rate (t/ha)C:N RatioTreatment N Input (kg/ha)
Spaded Vetch Hay616:1156
Spaded Oaten Hay5.972:135
Spaded Vetch + Oat Hay3.3 + 2.725:1102
Spaded Chicken Litter6.816:1218
Spaded Compost15.810:1252
Urea0.34N/A156
Spaded controlNilN/A
Non-spaded controlNilN/A
Table 1

Results

2020 Grain Yield

Here was a 0.75 t/ha increase in grain yield in 2020 between the non-spaded control and all other treatments which were spaded in 2017.  There was no significant difference between spaded treatments, therefore there was no effect of organic matter in 2020.


Cumulative Yield Benefit (2017-2020)

Spading chicken litter compost in 2017 has provided increased grain yield by 3.4 t/ha relative to the on-spaded control.  The effect of spading was 1.3 t/ha, therefore the long term yield benefit of the application of 6.8 t/ha chicken litter was 2.1 t/ha.  The next most effective organic matter source was compost while on-farm organic matter sources such as vetch hay has provided not provided long term benefit over and above spading.


Acknowledgement
This virtual field day has been developed as part of the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) project:
“Facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing of Mallee sustainable farming practices”
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

The research featured in this virtual field day was completed as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded project:
• Increasing production on sandy soils in the low-medium rainfall areas of the southern region.
The trials are a collaboration between Frontier Farming Systems and Mallee Sustainable Farming, CSIRO and UniSA.