Unprofitable paddocks making money again at Mukinbudin
- Grower Stories
- Product News
15 April, 2014
- Grower Stories
- Product News
15 April, 2014
Paul Smith said a few paddocks comprising rocky country and plenty of annual ryegrass, including resistant populations, were so poor the family was considering selling the block.
“We were going to leave these paddocks out because we couldn’t make money on them,’’ Paul said.
“Now, had someone bought it, they could have put a crop in and it would have paid for itself.
“We never ever dreamed we would get the wheat crops we got on them.
“I drove around them with my son (Blake) and we just marvelled. It was remarkable.
“All of a sudden the paddocks have become relatively profitable.’’
A strong cereal cropping rotation, long-term use of Group D and Group B herbicides and predominantly light, granite country that, ironically, was planted to annual ryegrass many years ago has been the recipe for weed control problems in a number of paddocks.
Paul and his wife, Serena, together with Blake, operate a continuous cropping program over their 4000 ha ‘Tourae’ farm plus 1600 ha of leased land.
Wheat-barley-wheat-barley forms the main rotation, with some oats grown for the export market and lupins also still grown, though over a smaller area. They have only cut hay in two of the past five years, however, last season it achieved export quality with yields of around 4 t/ha.
“We use barley as the main break crop for the wheat,’’ Paul said.
The Smiths have run into weed control issues in paddocks where Group D and B herbicides have been regularly applied and stubbles burned.
“We have been using trifluralin since the late ‘70s and it is not doing the job,’’ Paul said.
Three years ago, this prompted them to trial a tank load of the new Group K pre-emergent herbicide, Sakura® 850 WG, covering about 140 ha in a paddock comprising the most resistant ryegrass.
“The difference (in control) was huge,’’ Paul said.
“It didn’t get 100 per cent (of the population), but in some areas with heavy ryegrass, it completely cleaned it out.
“Yield was better too by around 0.5 t/ha and up to 0.8 t/ha’’
Containing the active ingredient, pyroxasulfone, Sakura is a highly concentrated granule from Bayer and has a low use rate of 118 g/ha. It controls annual ryegrass, barley grass, silver grass, annual phalaris and toad rush and provides suppression of wild oats and great brome in wheat (not durum wheat) and triticale crops.
The Smiths used the herbicide for more than half of their wheat program last year and were extremely pleased with the results despite less than ideal conditions to ensure its optimum performance. Unsuitable conditions can impact the herbicide’s efficacy for growers.
The family controlled mainly summer weeds with glyphosate before applying Sakura at the end of April in front of their knife point and press wheel sowing system set on 30 cm spacings and travelling at 10-11 kilometres per hour, allowing some soil throw for good chemical incorporation.
“Early rain events were limited last year. From the 20th of March to the 15th of June we had 24 millimetres over 12 days,’’ Paul said.
“The only moisture we had (at seeding) was down 3-4 inches (7-10 centimetres). The crops basically germinated on that moisture.
“In May we had a couple of 2 mm and 1 mm (events), but nothing to get the weeds going.
“We then had 9 mm on the 15th of June, but it wasn’t enough to get down to germinate the (weed) seed.
“On July 12 we had 17.5 mm. The wheat had probably got to the 4-leaf stage. It did then get the weeds germinating, but when we pulled them out of the ground you could see the root pruning – and they only had one root strand. You could see it on the barley grass and wild oats too and we also had a little bit of brome.
“There was some ryegrass there, but it was limited. We had a good result on all the grasses and it (Sakura) did a 95 per cent job on the ryegrass that was very bad.
“We had paddocks that were bad and we got a lot of wheat off them last year.
“Without Sakura, we knew we were going to be leaving some of these paddocks out.
“It is a significant cost, but you get the results. With 2 t/ha at $280-$300 /t and a $36-$37 /ha spray, there is still some good profit there.
“Last year was probably the worst seeding and it did a good job. We had quite a bit of trash too. To get a better result, we would burn the paddocks bare.
“We will probably do these paddocks twice (with Sakura) before rotating herbicides,’’ he said.
Darren Marquis, Landmark Mukinbudin, said the early season conditions in the area allowed excellent grass control with Sakura, which was becoming increasingly adopted by growers throughout the region.
“We were fortunate, with the conditions, that Sakura performed to its maximum,’’ Darren said.
“It’s a particularly good dry sowing option out here. Growers going in early can utilise Sakura and be confident that they are going into the season with excellent grass control.’’