Project Outcomes

Completed Projects


Date Completed 08/06/2017
Project Title SEPWA - Laying Lime for the Future project
Project Summary

There were four lime trials implemented across the Esperance port zone which can be assessed for results over a number of years into the future.  These lime trials were implemented using PA technology and farm scale equipment.  The ongoing assessment and monitoring of the trials will be via DAFWA and future SEPWA projects.

The lime trials have been laid out prior to seeding in 2016. These trials are located at Hopetoun, Condingup, Cascade and Ravensthorpe.

Each trial is composed of three treatment rates of lime; 0, 2 and 4 tonnes per hectare and replicated three times. This has been spatially captured by application map from the spreaders used to apply the various rates. 

Treatment widths are three times the header front width, and are 100-200m long. They will be analysed using yield data for the next three years. Soil samples were taken prior to liming and soil pH (CaCl2) results for each site were obtained.

Although the project only covers the implementation of these trials, there is scope however to extend this type of work to a broader audience across SEPWA members, and the WA grower groups, and farmers through SEPWA newsletter articles and presentations. Results will be displayed at talks, if feasible and meaningful.

Importantly, trials such as these show the commercial implications of relevant alternative rates on different soil types, possibly showing economic strengths and weaknesses, which can lead to improved application strategies in the future.

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Date Completed 15/05/2017
Project Title Plan Farm N-Broad acre app - Nitrogen decisions made easy
Project Summary

The new Nitrogen app called N-Broadacre is the highest selling nitrogen decision tool in Western Australia. The iPad based tool was produced by consultancy company Planfarm Pty Ltd. with funding from the Council of Grain Growers Organisations (COGGO).

Currently 260 apps have been sold to agronomists and consultants who are using it to simplify their nitrogen decisions. This is well above expectation and the comments below from farmers using N-Broadacre may indicate why.

N-Broadacre can be as simple or as complex as you like.  It is very quick to come up with a recommendation.  It’s well laid out and easy to use and I tend to use it the most when I am out in the paddock looking at the crops.”  Glenn Thomas (Tawarri Farms) – Mullewa, Western Australia.

 

N-Broadacre doesn’t take the place of a nutrition person but is a really good guide.  I found the layout of N-Broadacre very straight forward for someone who is not really a computer person”.  Chris Gillam (Gillam Farms) Irwin, Western Australia.

Another factor contributing to the high uptake of the new tool is that this year growers needed to be on their A-Game when deciding on N rates for various paddocks. Richard Quinlan from Planfarm said a clear understanding of N requirements was needed this year for the following reasons...

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Date Completed 15/05/2017
Project Title W.M.G. - Develop and test practical methods for incorporating lime into acidic sandplain subsoils
Project Summary

A trial concept was developed with local farmers and industry experts to develop experimental techniques to incorporate lime that can easily be adopted by farmers that have a deep ripper currently and are cheaper than current methods e.g. spading.

The final trial concepts for the first trial in 2014 that the group decided on were the Shallow Leading Tyne Ripper (SLTR) supplied by DAFWA, Deep Digger a new deep tillage implement supplied by McIntosh & Son, and three experimental attachments to bolt on the back of tynes of the SLTR. These attachments were: (1) Angle iron attachment from Peter Horwood a farmer at Mingenew; (2) Railway line joining plates or Fish plates; and (3) peanut cutter sweeps. The experimental attachments are very cheap and easily modified to attach onto a deep ripping tyne.

The trial was established at Peter Negus’s Dandaragan property. The site was spread with 3t/ha of lime and incorporated with the different methods. Initial results of the incorporation of lime from the trial were taken by Stephen Davies (DAFWA) using a universal pH indicator. Results below:

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Date Completed 15/05/2017
Project Title Synergy Consulting - Research the use of Residual Herbicides for effective summer weed control
Project Summary

Two trials were established as a part of this project. The first trial was established on the 14th January at the property of John and Jill Holmes Coalseam Road Mingenew. The second trial was established on the 11th February at the property of Des and Vicki Miguel Scotsman Road North Wialki.

The trial at Mingenew was sprayed on the 14th January with the forecast of rain in the next five days shown by computer models to be significant. There had been no significant rain from the start of November to the start date of the trial. There were no weeds present at the time of spraying.

No significant rainfall was received for the months of January, February and March on this site. A total of 23mm was received for these months. There were no germinations of summer weeds within the trial site or the surrounding paddock at this location. There was no significant differences throughout the year in crop growth or plant numbers establishment numbers throughout the growing season. The trial was not harvested.

The aim of the trial was to...

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Date Completed 12/05/2017
Project Title DAFWA - Can aphids cause yield loss in canola under good growing conditions
Project Summary

Project aim: To determine thresholds for spraying for aphid feeding damage on canola and include the impact that beneficial organisms are having on suppressing aphid numbers.

One glasshouse trial has been completed to test existing aphid thresholds on unstressed canola. This led to a field trial, funded by GRDC project DAW0027, Tactical Break Agronomy, to test the findings from the glasshouse trial.

One glasshouse trial was completed to determine if prophylactic sprays affect colonisation of canola by cabbage aphids and one glasshouse trial was completed to determine if predators can suppress the development of cabbage aphid colonies on the flowering spikes of canola.

Results from the field and glasshouse trials found...

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Date Completed 01/05/2017
Project Title Using Farmers Strips and Electronic Sensors to Diagnose Crop Growth Limitations
Project Summary

The aim of the project was to help growers answer the questions “are the crops in this paddock performing up to potential?” and “if not, why not” specifically with respect to crop nutrition.

Direct diagnosis of soil nutrient problems did not catch the imagination of growers in the West Midlands Area.

Despite the resultant lack of participation in the diagnostic project considerable value was gained from opportunistic sampling and diagnostics associated with observed growth variations in paddocks from crops across windrows and from better growth patches.  There is widespread K deficiency in crops as well as some manganese (Mn) deficiency as indicated by paired samplings. 

Of the crop monitoring equipment purchased for this project, the most useful was the hand held green seeker which could be used by growers to readily establish relative crop growth differences and, with calibration, could be used for determining absolute biomass levels.  The heat sensitive temperature probes also helped determine the relative stress levels in crops but the results could be misleading without careful interpretation

While the use of the protocol developed in the first year of this project and the uptake of self-diagnostics of crop problems by growers was almost zero, there is no denying the fact that when major yield variations in paddocks are followed up with diagnostic sampling, the implications for management and economic returns are large.  However, despite consistent urgings, growers recognise these facts either because they are already aware of the reasons for the problems, or they have too little time to follow up with diagnostic sampling.

On a personal level, because of the magnitude of some of the responses and the economic implications of those, I thought that this project would be a winner and would have a major impact on crop nutritional management in WA. I am disappointed and wrong.  Casual enquiries about non-participation led to foot shuffling and mutterings about the lack of time and timeliness of such investigations.  So my assertions that the two major questions facing growers (“Is this paddock performing up to potential?” and “If not, why not?”) were wrong.  Certainly, offering free sampling and interpretations of major growth differences in crops was not a motivation for answering such farmer specific questions.

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Date Completed 01/03/2017
Project Title SEPWA - Headless Barley - some direction for growers
Project Summary

The result of this project is to enhance growers agronomic strategy for their barley crop management. 

This “Headless Barley” project was designed to utilise data from the SEPWA barley variety trials to quantify yield losses on farm due to head loss characteristics of barley in the south coast region. Headloss data has been compiled and analysed between 2010-2016, therefore offering an up-to-date look at current varieties, and their susceptibility to head loss. Using this information, all results are in graph format available to all growers online at...

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Date Completed 01/01/2017
Project Title Planfarm Pty Ltd - The Hedge Calculator App Subsequently renamed ‘Salesmate – A COGGO funded app
Project Summary

Many growers find selling grain a stressful job, primarily stemming from the emotions involved with selling into a fast moving market and the information overload that many are faced with.

SalesMate® aims to simplify the decision making process into three core considerations; price, production and the farmer’s propensity to sell.

The SalesMate® app has been created by a collaboration between Planfarm Marketing and Profarmer Australia, with funding from the Council of Grain Grower Organisations (COGGO).

The app uses a live feed of current prices and decile values based on 5 years of historical price information. Each user enters their estimated or actual production, and selects their propensity to sell from very conservative to very aggressive.

Using this core information the SalesMate® algorithm calculates a target sales result in tonnes for the farmer. Not only is the process simple and effective, it is free from the perils and pitfalls of emotion and price forecasting.

The SalesMate app is now available and free to download on the iPhone App Store and can be run by iPhones with up to date software. Simply search “SalesMate – A COGGO funded App” in your iPhone App Store.

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Date Completed 23/09/2016
Project Title Planfarm Pty Ltd - Yield performance of acid/aluminium tolerant wheat varieties vs barley
Project Summary

Aim: To increase grower profitability by better matching variety and species to soil type and soil pH in Western Australia


Summary:
An in depth spatial analysis study was performed on 3 sandplain sites (Yuna, Mingenew and Three Springs) in the NAR of Western Australia looking at better matching soil pH to variety. The project compared how the relative yield of 5 varieties (Hindmarsh, Scope, Litmus, Wyalkatchem, Calingiri, Mace ) changed their relative yield as the soil pH changed.

The project sites had wide ranging soil pH levels both in the surface (0-10cm) and at depth (20-30cm). All three sites have had lime applications over the past 10 years and therefore the topsoil pH was significantly higher than the subsoil pH. The soil pH across the study paddocks was highly variable spatially even across small distances (30m) in the grid surveys conducted. This variability was most pronounced at the Yuna site. The soil pH was also correlated with position in the landscape and was the opposite for the Yuna and Mingenew sites. At the Mingenew site the lowest subsoil pH occurred in the high yielding hollows compared to the Yuna site where the lowest subsoil pH occurred on the low yielding ridges.

The Three Springs site had significant rhizoctonia bare patch infection throughout the paddock which made the correlation with soil pH impossible. For this reason this site was abandoned and extra sampling was done at the other two sites.

Visually the soils at the two sites looked similar however the relative yields of the varieties tested changed significantly between sites. This highlights the need for growers understand the soils they are dealing with to better match soil pH and variety/species.

Litmus Performance:
All three sites showed Litmus to have a higher numerical reading for NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetative Index) compared to all other wheat and barley varieties in the trial. However final yields were lower than the best performing variety at both sites.

At the Yuna site a soil profile study was carried out under the Hindmarsh and Litmus treatments. This study tested soil pH and moisture content down the profile during (21st August) the 2014 season. This showed the profile to be acidic at depth and at its lowest at the 20-30cm depth. Litmus was able to extract significantly more soil moisture at depth compared to Hindmarsh up to this time. It was concluded that this difference in moisture extraction was due to the improved pH tolerance of Litmus.

The above 2 observations suggest that although Litmus is better suited to acidic profiles than other varieties in the project, there must be other yield limiting traits of the variety that inhibit it from converting this advantage into grain yield.

Correlations between pH and variety performance:
Two methods were used to compare varietal performance with soil pH. This showed that although soil pH is important and limiting yield it is still not the most important driver of yield. Soil qualities such as water holding capacity and nutrition are still the main drivers of yield.

Method 1: Varietal analysis along a transect comparing two different soil types:

  • ? At Yuna the highest yielding variety was Hindmarsh. This variety also resulted in the highest gross margin compared to other varieties tested. Litmus failed to outyield Hindmarsh even on the more acidic section of the paddock. Calingiri was the lowest yielding variety which was opposite to the Mingenew site. Wheat performed relatively better on the stronger soil types in the paddock.
  • ? At Mingenew, Calingiri was the highest yielding variety and produced the highest gross margin. The highest yielding barley variety was litmus which outyielded Hindmarsh by 390kg/ha. There were no stark differences in how varieties yielded relative to each other along the transect as pH and soil type changed.

Method 2: Varietal analysis around each soil test site:

  • ? There was a poor correlation between soil pH and varietal yield at both trial sites. This suggests that factors such as water holding capacity and nutrition are driving yield even though the pH of these better quality soils is low.

Richard Quinlan (B. Agr. Sc)

Agronomist

Planfarm PTY LTD

rquinlan@planfarm.com.au

0428648828

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Date Completed 01/09/2016
Project Title SEPWA - Farm Scale Wi-Fi – The future of data for WA grain farmers
Project Summary

The key aspect of this project was to examine the various connection methods possible for on farm data connection. 

As a basic background of data connection there a few things to consider. Firstly, the connection type.  A direction connection via a cable or optic fiber is generally the best option always, provided you are close to the phone exchange!  This is why ADSL internet connection packages are only available within several kilometers of the phone exchange.  Generally, this is due to the old copper line servicing your land line telephone not being able to carry the data required by a modern internet connection once you go beyond a cable length of around 5km.  For on-farm connection, this option quickly disappears from choice for WA grain growers.

The next connection option is to go wireless.  Wireless data connection can be multiple types and various radio frequencies.  This ranges from mobile phone network connections, NBN fixed wireless and satellite connections. 

In extreme basic terms, a wireless transmission puts data into packets and transmits them between devices via radio waves.  From time to time, for a number of reasons (local topography or atmospheric conditions) data packets are lost or corrupted and then need to be resent.  If packets are continually resent over a set time, the connection ‘times out” and is lost. 

The key variation of types of wireless connections is the signal frequency and strength (volume).    High frequency wireless connections traditionally are suitable for excellent data through put over short distances and can pass through objects, e.g. Wi-Fi.  Low frequencies transmissions traditionally travel long distances but only with limited data capacity and can be easily interfered by objects.  While these basic rules mostly apply, the new 4 and 5G technology is re-writing some of these rules as wireless technology rapidly evolves. 

A wireless connection’s reach and reliability is also affected by the transmission strength.  Certain frequencies are “licensed” by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  An example of this is a mobile phone network where essentially they can ‘turn up the volume’ and allow signals to reach much further with less error rates.  The ACMA also has certain frequencies set aside for free to air data connection equipment, however this signal strength is limited below a certain level.

Given the geographical isolation of rural Australia the wireless connection options can be summarized as follows:

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Date Completed 01/08/2016
Project Title Fitz Gerald Biosphere Group - Frost management options to increase wheat grain quality & yield
Project Summary

In 2015 the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group (FBG) conducted a frost trial at Needilup, Western Australia. The project aimed to assess the suitability of stubble management options for minimising frost damage in cereal crops in a medium production environment, with consideration of secondary effects such as soil erosion. Stubble management options included retained stubble, reduced stubble and removed stubble. The impact of each treatment was measured extensively to identify any benefits of stubble management of frost mitigation.

Key Frost Observations

  • The site experienced 20 frost events at canopy level (temperature dropped below 0°C) between August and November. The severest event reached -3.5°C in a retained stubble during September. Of the 20 recorded frost events, there was no event that showed significant differences between the three stubble treatments for either severity or duration.
  • Photo monitoring showed no negative impact of stubble removal on soil erosion. This was likely caused by the mild climate experienced in the early stages of crop development. Additionally, stubble removal was held off until immediately prior to seeding to minimise wind erosion.
  • Frost induced sterility/FIS (frost damage) varied from 5% to 14% across the site and no significant difference was found between stubble treatments. Previous studies suggest that the lack of significant variation could be due to the small difference in stubble loads and a difference may be observed in high production environments where stubble loads are greater.
  • All stubble treatments exhibited similar harvest index components, suggesting minimal difference in frost damage which corresponds with the other data collected.
  • Yields were low across the site and statistical analysis of the yield map data showed no differences between stubble treatments. This is expected as there were no temperature, FIS or harvest index differences between the treatments.

Implications for industry

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Date Completed 10/06/2016
Project Title UWA (G Yan) - Implementation of a new, fast generation technology for Aust. wheat/barley breeding
Project Summary

Breeding practices and genetic studies in major crops often require the production of pure line populations. Conventionally, this process takes three to five years depending on the growing conditions and flowering times of the cross parents. This long generation time is a bottleneck limiting the efficiency of marker development and trait recombination for both pre-breeding and breeding. Our research team developed a fast generation system (FGS) for the single seed descent (SSD) approach that achieved up to eight/nine generations of wheat/barley per year. The system involves in vitro culture of young embryos and plant growth in a managed environment to shorten the generation cycles of the crops. In this COOGO project, we implemented the FGS to Australian cereal breeding programs and also tested its applicability in other crops including canola, oat and triticale.

In the first project year, we utilized FGS to develop pure lines (namely, recombinant inbred lines, RILs) from more than nine cross populations, with 100-200 lines for each population, including two wheat populations from SuperSeed Technologies Pty Ltd segregating in chlorophyll contents, one wheat population from DAFWA (Department of Agriculture and Food, WA) segregating in frost tolerance, and six wheat populations and three barley populations from InterGrain segregating on different agro-economic traits. Started from F1 or F2 at the beginning of the project, we handed most of the RILs to industry for field trials within a one-year timeframe.

In the second project year, we tested the applicability of FGS on other major crops including canola, oat and triticale. Up to seven generations per annum was achieved in these crops and the successful application of FGS on canola was published in Euphytica. We also developed several near isogenic lines (NILs) using FGS and marker assisted selection. NILs are a pair of lines that have identical genetic background except at one or a few genetic loci. NIL-derived populations, segregating primarily for a targeted locus, allow the conversion of a quantitative trait into a Mendelian factor and therefore enable the accurate location of a gene. NIL population is derived from the cross between two inbred lines and then a progeny with target heterozygous gene is chosen in F2 population to self. From F3 onward, the progenies that are heterozygous at the target gene are selected in each generation. Through these processes, the genetic background, except the target gene or locus, becomes homozygous by selfing. In F8 generation, the heterozygotes are selfed to produce two NILs that are homozygous (either positive or negative) at the target gene. NILs are valuable materials for genetic studies such as fine mapping and gene cloning.

By refining and applying FGS in Australian wheat/barley breeding, this project further proved that FGS has several advantages over doubled haploid (DH) technique for production of pure lines. Firstly, it is less genotype-dependent than DH as most of the genotypes tested had a high embryo germination rate; Secondly, unlike DH which is to achieve pure line by reducing the number of generations required, FGS does not cut the number of generations but only shortens each generation cycle, which would allow more recombination events to occur resulting in more diversity in the produced pure lines; Finally, and more importantly, phenotypic and/or marker selection can be incorporated as desired at different generations in FGS which is critical for breeding practices and NIL development in genetic studies.

FGS is cost effective because it is time- and space- saving. Operating labour cost is also low, as plants require less management during growth period. The system can significantly speed up breeding and has great potential to be used in wider cereal breeding communities.

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Date Completed 30/03/2016
Project Title Facey Group Inc - Incorporating lime to depth on duplex Wheatbelt soils
Project Summary

The project aimed to reduce the impact of acidic soils on plant growth and test the most practical and economical methods of incorporation of lime on duplex soils in the Central Southern Wheatbelt in comparison with the standard practice of top-dressing lime.

In 2015, preliminary results showed plants in treatments of an incorporation method took up a high percentage of organic nitrogen, in comparison to those treatments top dressed or those with no treatment. Soil samples will be completed pre seeding of 2016, to compare soil pH and other nutrients within the profile and to baseline soil samples taken in 2015 prior to treatments being applied. The yield of the treatments was not statistically different in the first year.

An economic analysis was conducted at the end of 2015 harvest, outlining the cost and gross margin for each of the treatments in the initial year of the trial.

Through extension and hosting a demonstration of incorporation methods, we have informed members of the Facey Group and growers within the local region; of the lime incorporation methods used and initial findings of the trial. Extension in 2016 will incorporate the delivery of 2015 results to growers and industry through Facey Groups Trials Presentation Event, a field walk after seeding and Spring Field Day.

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Date Completed 01/01/2016
Project Title Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) - Measuring, monitoring and understanding soil water holding properties
Project Summary

The aim of the project is to develop a concept that growers can easily implement and access during the growing season. Throughout the year the development of the data interpretation platform Crop Manager has progressed to a stage where growers can login online or through an app on their phone and see how full their soil moisture bucket is and how the soil water is dispersed throughout the soil profile. This is real time data and growers can then allocate nutritional inputs and market their grain based on informed knowledge.

This project will develop the ability to characterize the soil water holding properties of 3 soil types. This has been completed. Crop Lower limit (CLL) (maximum amount of soil water that can be extracted by a particular crop) and Drained Upper limit (DUL) (maximum amount of water that a soil can hold) parameters for each of the soils for wheat have been calculated and are included in the full trial report. Further funding will be required for a second season to test the figures from the first season and enable an accurate data base of CLL and DUL figures to be developed for the 3 soil types.

The data generated from this project is able to be used for developing a better understanding of the ability of wheat to extract soil water as well as take into account the change in CLL values, or increased soil water extraction over time with the implementation of soil remediation practices such as liming. This work will be included in future project proposals....

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Date Completed 01/01/2016
Project Title SARDI - Development of an imidazolinone-tolerant oat breeding line
Project Summary

Key Message


Through classical plant breeding methods five plants from the oat variety Williams were found that have tolerance to 1/8 the recommended rate of Intervix, an imidazolinone herbicide.

Summary of Project


The use of the Clearfield production system for imidazolinone tolerant wheat, barley, and canola varieties poses a potential soil residue issue for following crop rotations, especially in acid soils. Oat is an important crop in WA for human consumption, hay production, and feed as well as an important break crop in rotations. The aim of this project was to produce an ‘imi’ tolerant Williams that could follow Clearfield varieties in rotation without concern for potential soil residues.

Williams was treated with a chemical, EMS, to produce genetic variation in the oat variety Williams for ‘imi’ tolerance. A two ha paddock was sprayed with the recommended rate of Intervix and five plants survived. Seed from the five plants was sprayed with 0, 1/8, ¼, ½, 1, 2, 4 times the recommended rate of Intervix. All plants tolerated 1/8 the recommended rate of Intervix. Seedlings from 1 plant also survived the ¼ rate.

Seed will be increased from the tolerant plants and further evaluation for plant type, grain yield, grain quality, and disease resistance will proceed to determine the potential for release of an ‘imi’ tolerant Williams.

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Date Completed 14/05/2015
Project Title West Midlands Group - The Impact of gravel on crop management – a desktop study
Project Summary

Executive Summary

Gravel soils (soils with > 20% gravel in the topsoil) make up about 3 million hectares of the 18 million hectares of alienated land in the agricultural areas of south western WA. They are ubiquitous, and occur at high frequency in the increasingly cropped, high rainfall zone of WA. They are all lateritic but fall into two natural classes according to location. Those to the west in the forest country are dominated by iron and aluminum oxides while those in the wheatbelt to the east contain a lot more silica. Why study the gravel content of soils?

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Date Completed 11/05/2015
Project Title SEPWA - Growing more profitable crops on chemical fallow
Project Summary

Executive Summary

This project was funded by COGGO to assess the agronomic and economic factors involved in the chemical fallowing of paddocks in the medium to low rain fall regions of the Esperance port zone. This aim was to provide local grain growers information in helping them choose break crop and/or fallow options for their crop rotations

From implementing fallow treatments in four break crop paddocks across the Esperance port zone the overall economic and agronomic implications of fallow versus break crops were compared from the 2013 and 2014 cropping seasons. From analysis of the two year net margin off all paddocks fallow was shown as a less profitable option in the trial paddocks when compared to the peas or canola break crops. This was primarily due to the break crops all achieving cash flow positive results in their own season. At all sites four chemical applications were required during the 2013 season to ensure a bare fallow situation with an average cost of $62.89/ha.

In one of the two paddocks sown to field peas in 2013 there was a noted yield increase of 230kg/ha of the pea area compared to the fallow treatment. This corresponds to the anecdotal evidence of pea growers in the Esperance region of some yield advantage in wheat crops when following a pea break crop. At the Mt Madden site there was noted to be a yield advantage of the fallow treatment over the canola area of 290 kg/ha. This 10% yield advantage of the 2014 wheat crop was more than likely was due to either more soil water stored from the 2013 season fallow or greater nitrogen availability when comparing the fallow areas to the canola. This was also supported by higher grain protein in the fallow area compared to the canola treatment.

The agronomic factors of only two seasons do not necessarily correspond to the long term sustainability of a farming system. From the crop diaries of the host farmers an excessive use of glyphosate was noted in regard to non-selective weed control. This is of concern to pending herbicide resistance issues across the WA wheat belt and the long term sustainability of the WA no till farming system. So despite fallow being shown as less profitable in this project, it may need to be occasionally considered as part of an overall integrated weed management approach.

The projects work did reveal that in some soil type’s peas and canola will not generate yields sufficient to cover the costs of their cropping costs. In this situation farmers would be better off to utilize the fallow option to control weeds in the cereal based cropping rotation. For farmers to see if they have paddocks that fall into this category they may wish to assess their long term yield performance of their rotation using yield data collected from the harvester data card.

This project did achieve in its aim of exposing a simple PA style trial to many growers across the Esperance port zone region. It also upskilled some of the RAIN staff to further use PA type tools in their future project work. What was highlighted by the loss of the Salmon Gums yield data is that farmers still have long way to go in utilising their existing PA equipment for farm scale trial work. SEPWA has been funded by GRDC to address this issues via the DIY PA Project which started at the beginning of the 2014 season. 4 SEPWA – Following Fallows Report - COGGO

 

1.0 Methodology

This project deployed 4 trail sites across the Esperance port zone using precision agriculture technologies as a means to assess the agronomic and economic consequences of a fallow option versus a break crop option. In a paddock which was sown to a break crop of either peas or canola in 2013, selected strips of 36m widths were left as fallow treatments amongst the control of the pea/canola break crop. The fallow strips locations were selected from previous years yield data as well as farmer soil type knowledge to ensure they were representative of the paddock.

At the commencement of the 2013 season host sites were selected at Mt Madden, Cascade and Salmon Gums. With help from the RAIN group, the 2 sites at Mt Madden were at the Frosts’ property with pea’s and canola being the paddock break crops. At the Cascade site the host farmers Vermeersch sowed the paddock to peas while Longmire’s at Salmon Gums used Canola as their break crop option.

A soil moisture probe was also installed at the Salmon Gums site at part of the local groups in season tracking information feedback mechanism. This information was hosted on the SEPWA website for farmer reference. This can be viewed at:

http://www.sepwa.org.au/index.php/2011-11-15-05-40-21/soil-moisture-probes

The trial sites were monitored during 2013 season for weed control and as well as mapping the precise location of the fallow strip amongst the break crop.

In the 2014 season, all hosts paddocks were sown to wheat. The design of the fallow strips were then used as cut-outs from the 2014 yield data to define the yield effects of the fallow versus control break crop. Of the 4 sites, only 3 were able to be assessed for yield results due to the Salmon Gums site having a contract harvester which did not understand their yield data recording mechanism and the data was lost for the host paddock. (They had not emptied their data card in 3 years).

The relative variable costs of each site were then assembled from the farmer actual applications for comparison to the 2014 yield effects between the fallow and break crop treatments.

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Date Completed 20/03/2015
Project Title UWA - Web based tool to interpret and quantify spray coverage from Commercial Pesticide applications
Project Summary

The product of this project is now named SnapCard, which is a decision support tool for farmers and agricultural consultants to predict quality and performance of spray applications based on weather conditions and spray settings. Over three growing seasons at three locations in Western Australia, the project quantified spray coverage based on 1,796 water sensitive spray cards, measured weather conditions, and recorded spray settings, including: sprayer forward speed, nozzle type and flow rate, spray application volume rate, and spray pressure). The project demonstrated that spray coverage obtained during pesticide spray applications can be predicted based on a combination of spray settings [nozzle flow rates, sprayer speed (km per hour), spray application volume rate (liters per ha), and a commonly used adjuvant (yes = 1, no = 0)] and readily available weather variables [barometric pressure (mm Hg), relative humidity (%), temperature (oC), and wind speed (km per hour) at ground level].

SnapCard http://agspsrap31.agric.wa.gov.au/snapcard/

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Date Completed 20/03/2015
Project Title CFIG -Growing more profitable crops on chemical fallow
Project Summary

By Simon Wallwork, Agronomist. In these trials Corrigin Farm Improvement Group aimed to test the benefits of growing crops on chemical fallowed soil. The trials specifically compared which crop species were most profitable under a chemical fallowing regime. In season 2013 barley was most profitable and in 2014 albus lupins were the most profitable crop grown on chemical fallow. 2013 Results Barley was the highest yielding crop in this trial, with the Bass barley chemical fallow strip the highest yielding strip at 4882 kg/ha. This strip also produced the highest gross return ($1165/ha). The highest yielding pulse in the trial was the PBA Striker Chickpeas on chemical fallow. This also produced the highest gross return ($595/ha) of the pulse species. The three strips suitable for chemical fallow comparison with continuous crop were Genesis 836 Chickpea, PBA Striker Chickpeas and Bass Barley. The effect of chemical fallow versus continuous crop for each of these was -36kg, +304kg and +481kg respectively (Table 1). These yield gains equate to -4%, 30% and 11% yield differences relative to continuous cropping, respectively (Table 1). For the PBA Striker Chickpea this is an income benefit of $167/ha and the Bass Barley is $122/ha from chemical fallow over continuous cropping. This demonstrates that higher value crops such as Chickpeas may produce a higher relative benefit from a chemical fallow regime. Table 1. Yield gain or loss for chemical fallow treatments for each crop respectively. Crop Yield gain/loss (kg) % yield gain/loss Genesis 836 Chickpeas chemical fallow -36 -4% Striker Chickpeas chemical fallow 303 30% Bass Barley chemical fallow 481 11% 2014 Results Wheat was the highest yielding crop in this trial, with the wheat chemical fallow plot the highest yielding treatment; 1955 kg/ha. This strip that produced the highest gross return was albus lupins on chemical fallow at $721 per hectare. The albus lupins on chemical fallow were also the highest yielding pulse in the trial; 1425kg/ha. The chemical fallow treatments for canola, wheat and barley were clearly outperforming their respective continuous crop treatments from very early in the season in terms of vigour and biomass. The barley and canola were 50% higher yielding than the respective continuous crop treatments while the wheat was only 3% higher yielding (Table 2). The broadleaf crops, albus lupins and canola may be well suited to chemical fallow regimes as they are options to continue the weed and disease break between cereal crops. Also they are longer season crops and chemical fallow offers early sowing opportunities with higher stored soil moisture. Also, given their higher value, these crops can potentially offer higher returns than cereals in the chemical fallow year; in this trial albus lupins demonstrated that this is possible. Table 2. Yield gain or loss for chemical fallow treatments for each crop respectively. Crop Yield gain/loss (kg) % yield gain/loss Albus Lupins 360 34% Canola 141 50% Barley 584 50% Wheat 56 3% Striker Chickpeas -140 -20% Genesis 836 Chickpeas -22 -7%

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Date Completed 20/03/2015
Project Title UWA -Enhancing WA Chickpea industry through demonstration and extension of new Ascochyta resistance
Project Summary

The chickpea industry, which in late 1990s rose rapidly from almost no chickpeas to over 75,000 ha in a short time, was halted due to the devastating epidemic of Ascochyta blight disease for which there was no genetic resistance in varieties at the time. Although, the problem has been addressed and resistant varieties have become available in recent years, there has not been any marked resurgence in the area sown to chickpeas in Western Australia. This project focused on demonstrating the new Ascochyta resistant chickpea varieties to the WA growers during 2013 and 2014 growing seasons. Demonstration (demo) trials involving three new varieties and one old variety were conducted in 2013 at Mullewa, Mingenew, Wubin, Merredin, Doodlakine and Corrigin and in 2014 demos were conducted at Mullewa, Mingenew, East Buntine and Corrigin. Replicated yield trials with additional germplasm were conducted at Mingenew and Merredin. At all sites project personnel attended and addressed the field day participants and distributed a specially prepared two pager on new varieties. In this way, over 270 growers and agri-business personnel have been directly engaged. Demo and yield trial results were shared with the grower groups for greater dissemination of the information. In addition, a survey of the chickpea industry was conducted and feedback received from this survey and direct interaction at the field days/field walks enabled to understand the issues that need addressing to further promote the chickpea industry in WA. During the two years, almost all major field events in the potential chickpea growing regions and some other regions were exploited through demo trials and other trials to spread the message first hand to hundreds of growers and Agro-Industry personnel. Both demo and replicated trials showed that the new Ascochyta resistant chickpea varieties perform better than the older variety and disease risk is now minimal. Valuable first hand feedback and survey results have provided information on the growers concerns and if targeted efforts are made to address these issues, there is every possibility that the chickpea industry will expand in WA. Grain legumes are generally the missing link in WA cropping systems despite their known role in improving soil nitrogen status, providing disease break and opportunity for grass weed control. This two year small project on chickpeas can work as a model for developing an adequately funded project that includes all major grain legumes (e.g. chickpea, field pea and faba bean) for the fine textured soils targeting relevant cropping regions in WA. Such a project should work in collaboration with the Grower Groups, Pulse Australia and DAFWA and funds should be available to compensate Grower Groups for their input to ensure priority for the project activities. The grain industry will directly benefit from greater adoption of chickpea and associated benefits of grain legume in crop rotation. The results will also help judicious selection of variety. With greater chickpea production, economic and health benefits will flow to the broader community.

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Date Completed 23/09/2014
Project Title SEPWA - Dealing with a difficult harvest
Project Summary

Dealing with a difficult harvest – a guide for Western Australian Grain growers

The stresses of everyday farming are further exacerbated at peak times – and harvest would be undoubtedly one of the most stressful periods in a calendar year for most Western Australian grain growers. The Council of Grain Grower Organisations (COGGO) funded SEPWA to put together a manual that encapsulates all that can go wrong at harvest. SEPWA did this with the help of many growers and industry representatives from throughout the State along with technical support from the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA). The book is broken up into chapters: Managing Yourself; Managing Your Staff; Managing your Business; Managing your Crop at Harvest; Managing your Harvest; and Managing Disaster. Around 2000 copies were printed and distributed throughout Western Australia in 2014. We as an industry need to make our business, our family and ourselves individually more resilient so that we can deal with the pressures that we can’t change immediately. We cannot afford to let those pressures get us down to the point where damage is being done to our productivity, our family life or our enjoyment of life. Easier said than done sometimes. This book is about recognising the things we can’t change at harvest (of which there are many) – and doing an audit of the things that can go wrong from one year to the next. We can arm ourselves with information so that when we do get hit by the problem, we can then do something about it. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. – John Maxwell I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. – Stephen Covey

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Date Completed 14/07/2014
Project Title Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) -Statewide implementation of Australia's first unmanned aerial vehicles
Project Summary

The objective of this project was to use new technology, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to maximise financial benefits to Western Australia’s growers. Through the use of UAVs, and processing the available data, the project aimed to provide grain growers with a tool for making confident and cost-effective crop management decisions, based upon the provision of location specific information, eg the location of weeds in a paddock. A MIG long-term trial site of 60 ha was chosen for the project and the process focused on summer weeds. By using the data obtained from the UAVs and interpreting it through a web based platform: Crop Manager, the exact position of the weeds in the paddock were identified and the grower was able to conduct a selective spray (as opposed to spraying the whole paddock) and saved $563.10 (or $9.39/hectare). Key findings: 1- UAVs can be used to minimise costs associated with summer spraying and constitute another tool in weed management. 2- The project established that utilising UAVs to collect aerial imagery was a very viable option and that the type of UAV and camera combination needed would depend on the specific requirements of the grower, in particular, the area being flown and the data being analysed. 3- It was also concluded that the time taken to deliver a benefit was crucial to success. The delivery time needs to be confirmed at the start of the process with the decision made on the data that needs to be collected. Most data collected from the flights could be used and interpreted through Crop Manger to identify weeds but the processing time varied considerably and affected the quality of the final outcome. 4- The project produced accurate data that delivered benefits to the grower and in a format that could be imported into and read by all major agriculture and technology suppliers. 5- This project also demonstrated that growers want real-time and easy to understand information. Following this trial, CropManager has now an app available on both phones and tablets to allow the user to remotely check real time paddock information. The main conclusion is that the technology to detect weeds using UAVs exists and in the future, it will be a profitable farming practice for farmers when the correct legislation is in place and UAV technology has advanced further regarding the area that can be covered in a day. The main recommendation from this project would be to wait for these improvements to be implemented before developing further projects.

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Date Completed 14/07/2014
Project Title Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) - Growing more profitable crops on chemical fallow
Project Summary

Executive Summary

This project began in January 2013 with the aim of investigating options to increase yield and quality of grain grown on red loam soil types in the Mingenew / Irwin region and testing the hypothesis that cropping returns on red loam soils increase through the use of chemical Fallow

 

Background:

A large scale replicated trial was established in 2013 to test for an increase in yield and quality of grain grown on red loam soil following the implementation of chemical Fallow.  Two paddocks were used in this evaluation trial.  The first went into chemical Fallow in 2012 while the second was sown to wheat in 2012.  Most growers on red loam soil types agree that fallow increases crop yield in the following year but have not measured the output.  The trial was established to quantify if the increases in grain yield and quality are significant and justify the financial cost of leaving a paddock to fallow, with the grower essentially only receiving one crop in two years.

 

Recent dry seasons have highlighted the importance of stored soil moisture in the early establishment of crops.  Red loam soils have a high water holding capacity and the purpose of fallow is to increase the amount of soil water in the profile at seeding.  Stored soil water in the profile is very important when only small rainfall events are received at seeding for crop establishment.  MIG measured soil water during the season.

 

Does chemical fallow increase cropping returns significantly?’  In this trial the answer is no.  Returns were actually higher in the paddock that did not have fallow in the rotation but seasonal effects have played a role in this result

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