Mouldboard ploughing trials whet grower appetites

16/05/2018 Posted by admin

TRIALSof mouldboard ploughing to alleviate non-wetting soils near Corrigin haveproduced impressive initial results including high crop yields and low weednumbers in what was a poor performing paddock.
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But the research, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation(GRDC) Regional Cropping Solutions (RCS) initiative, also confirms there aremany lessons yet to be learnt about the use of the tool.

The Corrigin Farm Improvement Group (CFIG) is conducting some of the region’sfirst trials of mouldboard ploughing, already used by a number of growers inWestern Australia’s northern grainbelt, but less common farther south.

The CFIG research is also investigating other options for non-wetting soilsincluding wetting agents, winged points and in-row seeding (as opposed tointer-row seeding) and is one of five RCS non-wetting soils projects in thewestern part of the Kwinana port zone.

Farmers and agronomists recently inspected the CFIG site located on theproperty of Neville and Glenys Turner between Corrigin and Quairading.

Local farmer, CFIG member and trained agronomist Simon Wallwork said the CFIGapplied to the GRDC Kwinana West RCS Network to fund research in the area afternon-wetting soils were identified as a worsening local issue.

“CFIG were also interested in mouldboarding as an option for non-wetting soilsafter seeing some pretty incredible results in 2011 on the Turner’s property,”he said.

“The site mouldboarded in 2011 yielded 3.8tonnes per hectare of wheat and wasthe highest yielding of any wheat crop on the property, even though it wasn’tseeded until early July.

“Although no pre-emergent chemicals were used for the 2011 trial, we foundthere were no weeds in the crop during the growing season and very few oversummer, with only a handful of wireweed coming through.”

However, weed numbers were higher in the 2012 mouldboarding trial, attributedto incorrect set-up of the ‘skimmer plates’ in front of the larger blades onthe plough.

Mr Wallwork said the trial results reflected findings from the northerngrainbelt which showed that mouldboard ploughing effectively changed the soiltype by bringing subsoil to the surface.

“This means that chemicals need to be applied with caution, particularly in thecase of trifluralin interacting with soils with low organic matter,” he said.

“Excessive clay brought to the surface can also reduce crop germination.”

Mr Wallwork said another factor to consider when mouldboarding was the soilmoisture content at the time of using the tool.

“Many believe that soil moisture must be good at the time of mouldboarding andthat seeding should occur within hours of the plough being used so that thesoil is still damp and wind erosion risk is reduced,” he said.

Mr Wallwork said the relatively low cost of the mouldboard operation at theCFIG site – $140/ha (including fuel) -combined with the better cropperformance and weed control, showed it could be an attractive option for localgrowers.

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