DBS valuable tool in NSW dry

category: 
Pasture Renovation
Chicory pasture sown by a DBS planter in Glenn Innes, NSW, is surviving despite below average rainfall.

Chicory pasture sown by a DBS planter in Glenn Innes, NSW, is surviving despite below average rainfall.

Glen Innes, New South Wales cattle producers Greg and Sally Chappell have faced a tough year like many of their peers.
But despite below average rain, his pasture paddocks are hanging on.
This week he sent across the above picture of a paddock of Commander Chicory, sown on September 23, 2018 at a rate of 1kg/ha, with Cocksfoot Clover and Broome prairie grass.
Since then he has recorded 432.5mm in the paddock against an average of 880mm.
Greg puts down the ability of the chicory to survive to the plant’s long tap root.
But he also has praise for his DBS planter.
“It has penetrated the soil and fractured it with blades working to a depth of between 16 and 18 centimetres,” he said. “This has broken up the old plough pan and enabled moisture infiltration giving access to stored nutrients at depth outside normal root penetrations.”
The Chappell’s next door neighbours Peter and Ros Alexander, who also use a DBS, also report their triticale pastures are “hanging on” in the dry conditions.

Re-building soil key to sustainability

category: 
Pasture Renovation
Lush ryegrass biomass contrasts a love grass-dominated paddock (pictured below) on Greg and Sally Chappell’s Glen Innes, NSW property. The above paddock was renovated and reseeded with a DBS with ryegrass crowding out the love grass.

Lush ryegrass biomass contrasts a love grass-dominated paddock (pictured below) on Greg and Sally Chappell’s Glen Innes, NSW property. The above paddock was renovated and reseeded with a DBS with ryegrass crowding out the love grass.

Love grass-dominated [paddock.

Love grass-dominated [paddock.

*This is the second of a two-part series relating to Glen Innes, NSW farmers Greg and Sally Chappell. Part one was published here earlier this month.

GREG and Sally Chappell have created a living laboratory managing their Dulverton Angus stud, Shannon Vale, comprising 500 cows and 150 bulls.
It’s a template that can be assessed by all farmers and “re-jigged” to suit different rainfall regions and soil conditions.
Greg is not saying it’s the total answer for improving crop production and animal health but the evidence on his property is compelling.
True, his annual average rainfall is 875mm (35in), but in dry years he still manages good production, through his process of building up carbon levels to hold moisture.
Since 2008 he has been re-building soil through mulching weeds, manuring and using a liquid potassium (K) mix based on plant analysis.
It has been a slow process but having been involved in trials using a DBS and Multistream airseeder, he is now convinced of the system and believes the DBS is accelerating the process.
“I think by using the DBS and Multistream we’re on the right road because we didn’t factor in this type of deep tillage in the beginning,” he said.
“We’ve also introduced dung beetles to get those cow pads into the soil to bring up the carbon levels and we’re creating a worm environment.
“The dungies are our best friends. They bury the dung thereby breaking the worm cycle resulting in less harmful chemistry entering the soil destroying worms, microbes, etc.
“We’re getting less incidence of disease, less Buffalo fly and less drenching.
Dung pads also help break the Buffalo fly cycle and so are less harmful to ‘’low order life’’ chemistry entering our system.
“It’s our contention that if this chemistry “kills” lower order life, then it has to be having a negative effect on “Primates”.
Dung in the ground also means the nutrients are being positively re-cycled particularly potassium.
In January, Greg used the DBS planter to establish a forage sorghum and cow pea crop (for N in the silage), which is used as silage feed for the cattle.
“On our first cut we took off 14 tonnes a hectare which gave us 136 bales,” Greg said. “Last year we sowed with the aerator and only got one cut which gave us 129 bales.
“This year we got a second cut which gave us an extra 100 bales, which must be because the roots could get down into moisture from that deeper working with the DBS.
“Our usual method in planting the sorghum was to spin it (seed) out and roll it in with tyre rollers.
“With the DBS we’ve probably doubled our yield.”
According to Greg, the DBS has already proven itself by his three Rs analogy of renovate, rejuvenate and re-establish.
“Going forward the DBS will be a major component in our system”.
Greg has now ordered a 15-foot (4.5m) DBS on 10-inch (25cm) spacings with a mounted Multistream on the bar and liquid tanks on the drawbar to provide him with the capacity to switch between granular applications and liquids.
“It’s especially good for mixing up the K-brew, so we’re pretty happy with the machine,” he said.
“The liquids give us a chance to move forward with a balanced nutrition package being introduced into the soil, providing more benefit for high performance pasture growth.”
And a pleasing feature of the DBS, according to Greg, is that you don’t have to wait for moisture to start a sowing program.
“The DBS penetrates the subsoil and breaks up the hardpans and you can get moisture coming up to wet up the seed beds,” Greg said.
“It is our intention to use the DBS to establish and rejuvenate pastures that have been severely depleted as a result of erratic rainfall distribution, Corbie Grubs, etc.”
According to Greg, the benefits of the DBS include:
1. One pass function reducing operational costs.
2. The machine’s unique design enables it to break through existing plow pans thereby enhancing water and oxygen infiltration.
3. The machine can handle substantial trash levels enabling us to plant directly into existing, albeit, depleting pasture swards without using chemicals.
4. This enables the positive contribution from soil microbes.
“Let’s give biology a GO.” he said.
According to Ausplow managing director John Ryan AM, Greg is “bang on” with his system.
“I wouldn’t be put off by his story if you’re a more dryland grower,” he said. “Greg’s basic approach is true for all soils and all rain regions.
“We sometimes get fixated on how much rain we don’t get but the whole point of Greg’s system if you like, is to build soil structure so that moisture can be held in the root zone.
“It does take time, as Greg has shown, but it has to be remembered that if you build soil structure, it’s basically forever.
“And we know, moisture and air are the key factors in soil and plant health.
“If we get that operating, it triggers the increased presence of beneficial bacteria and microcrobes, creating the ripple effect of reducing plant root diseases and enhancing plant health."

Three Rs of farming: Renovate, Rejuvenate, Re-Establish.

category: 
Pasture Renovation
Ausplow representative Keith Ryan (left) and NSW farmer Greg Chappell examine a flourishing forage sorghum crop. Greg now gets two cuts which he attributes to the DBS> "It gave us an extra 100 bales, which must be because the roots can now access subsoil moisture," he said.

Ausplow representative Keith Ryan (left) and NSW farmer Greg Chappell examine a flourishing forage sorghum crop. Greg now gets two cuts which he attributes to the DBS> "It gave us an extra 100 bales, which must be because the roots can now access subsoil moisture," he said.

Regardless of your business model as a farmer, soil remains the cornerstone to success.
It might sound like a trite comment, but how many farmers, apart from yourself, do you know who are involved in liming, claying, spreading gypsum, deep tillage, spading or mouldboard ploughing?
All of the above, plus a few others, are all strategies aimed at improving the soil, whether it’s attempting to elevate soil pH, mitigate non-wetting soils or building better structured soils for increased water-holding capacity.
And many of the practices have become annual programs, emphasising a well-known fact in farming: There are no magic bullets.
It’s a phrase Glen Innes (New South Wales) farmers Greg and Sally Chappell know only too well, managing their Dulverton Angus stud on their home property ‘Shannon Vale’, comprising 500 cows and 150 bulls, with a further 400 cows on a neighbouring lease block.
The Shannon Vale property totals 3600 acres (1450ha) and when the Chappells bought property in 2001, following a ‘çareer’ in cropping at Moree, it was immediately apparent a strategy was needed to overcome a long history of eroded and compacted soils.
With an annual rainfall of 875mm (35in), it was imperative to take advantage of the available moisture and so began a program to improve the soil’s water-holding capacity by building up carbon levels.
The Chappell’s research showed that for every one percent lift in stored carbon, water-holding capacity was improved by 144,000 litres a hectare every year.
Initial attempts included district practice of superphosphate and nitrogenous fertilisers, chemicals, tillage and set stock grazing management.
But high input costs to maintain pasture production finally forced Greg and Sally to re-evaluate their enterprise and engage in a long-term strategy to get the soil back to a healthier and more productive state.
Weeds were the main problem, particularly African lovegrass, which had negligible nutritional value yet dominated over more palatable pasture species.
So 11 monitoring sites were established to measure soil carbon and soil pH.
The focus was on planned rotational grazing, use of organic fertilisers (composted feedlot waste) and no soil disturbance.
“Since about 2008, we have been re-building the soil by increasing organic and carbon content, through things like mulching weeds, manuring and using a liquid potassium mix, based on plant analysis,” Greg said.
Mulching weeds is initially started by slashing them a few days before removing stock. Little chemical is used, except for spot competition sites.
The herd becomes the mechanised process of smashing up weed ‘stubble’, including lovegrass, bringing it in contact with the soil where biological processes start material decomposition.
“It’s a long-term process but we’re seeing encouraging signs from our measuring sites,” Greg said.
“When we started we were below one for organic carbon and now it’s around 3.5.
“With soil pH it’s gone between 4.4 and 5.7 to 5.9 and 7.1.
“And now, none of the sites are measuring below 5.7.”
His explanation for the change, after a period of only four years, was simple: “We stopped single super (too much acid) and started manuring.
“Before we came, this country has truck loads of single super.”
Of course, there is more to it than that those remarks, but it does make a point about not locking into traditional ways and pushing barriers to discover better pathways of farm management practices.
What the Chappells have achieved in about 10 years has been substantial and has tipped the scale back into profitability. But in farming, you don’t rest on your laurels.
More recently Greg and Sally have been using a DBS/Multistream trial planter after becoming dissatisfied with an aerator seeding machine, which according to Greg, was “okay, but was adding to a compaction problem”.
Last year he established 84 acres (34ha) of pasture with the trial planter, using a balanced granular formula to plant ryegrass and Lucerne.
Greg was impressed with the result, particularly, the under seed cultivation and shattering of the subsoil, breaking up soil hardpans and encouraging water infiltration.
“We also sowed cow pea and we got some tremendous establishments, even when sowing into couch grass patches.
“We’ve created three Rs, with the planter,” Greg said. “We’re renovating and rejuvenating the soil, to re-establish pastures to improve soil health.
“And a healthy soil will produce healthy feed for improved animal health and growth.
“The energy off forage sorghum is about 10.6 per cent while the protein is about 15.8 per cent, so it’s a good outcome.
“And we get good weight gains around 1.4kg a day.
“We’ve got to get a two-year-old up to terminal weight and it costs,” he said. “But I think by using the DBS and Multistream we’re accelerating the process we started because we didn’t factor in this type of deep tillage in the beginning.
“And we’ve introduced dung beetles to get those cow pads into the soil to bring up the carbon levels and we’re creating a worm environment.
“The dungies are our best friends. They bury the dung thereby breaking the worm cycle resulting in less harmful chemistry entering the soil destroying worms, microbes, etc.
“We’re getting less incidence of disease, less Buffalo fly and less drenching.
Dung pads also help break the Buffalo fly cycle and so are less harmful to ‘’low order life’’ chemistry entering our system.
It’s our contention that if this chemistry “kills” lower order life, then it has to be having a negative effect on “Primates”.
Dung in the ground also means the nutrients are being positively re-cycled particularly potassium.
In January, Greg used the DBS planter to establish a forage sorghum and cow pea crop (for N in the silage), which is used as silage feed for the cattle.
“On our first cut we took off 14 tonnes a hectare which gave us 136 bales,” Greg said. “Last year we sowed with the aerator and only got one cut which gave us 129 bales.
“This year we got a second cut which gave us an extra 100 bales, which must be because the roots could get down into moisture from that deeper working with the DBS.
“Our usual method in planting the sorghum was to spin it (seed) out and roll it in with tyre rollers.
“With the DBS we’ve probably doubled our yield.”
According to Greg, the DBS has already proven itself by his three Rs analogy and, “going forward it will be a major component in our system”.
Greg has now ordered a 15-foot (4.5m) DBS on 10-inch (25cm) spacings with a mounted Multistream on the bar and liquid tanks on the drawbar to provide him with the capacity to switch between granular applications and liquids.
“It’s especially good for mixing up the K-brew, so we’re pretty happy with the machine,” he said.
“The liquids give us a chance to move forward with a balanced nutrition package being introduced into the soil, providing more benefit for high performance pasture growth.”
And a pleasing feature of the DBS, according to Greg, is that you don’t have to wait for moisture to start a sowing program.
“The DBS penetrates the subsoil and breaks up the hardpans and you can get moisture coming up to wet up the seed beds,” Greg said.
“It is our intention to use the DBS to establish and rejuvenate pastures that have been severely depleted as a result of erratic rainfall distribution, Corbie Grubs, etc.
The benefits of the machine include:
1. One pass function reducing operational costs.
2. The machine’s unique design enables it to break through existing plow pans thereby enhancing water and oxygen infiltration.
3. The machine can handle substantial trash levels enabling us to plant directly into existing, albeit, depleting pasture swards without using chemicals.
4. This enables the positive contribution from soil microbes.
“Let’s give biology a GO.”

Changing paradigm on NSW farm

category: 
Pasture Renovation
This is the pith of the story of soil renovation. These two sods were dug up from two parts of a paddock on Peter Alexander’s farm at Glen Innes in New South Wales.  The sod on the left was dug up in an unrenovated part of the paddock and is like a brick, with minimal root penetration. The sod on the right was dug up from a DBS-renovated strip and shows soil structure, with plenty of rooting activity and obvious ‘pathways’ for water and air infiltration – the key to healthy plant growth.

This is the pith of the story of soil renovation. These two sods were dug up from two parts of a paddock on Peter Alexander’s farm at Glen Innes in New South Wales. The sod on the left was dug up in an unrenovated part of the paddock and is like a brick, with minimal root penetration. The sod on the right was dug up from a DBS-renovated strip and shows soil structure, with plenty of rooting activity and obvious ‘pathways’ for water and air infiltration – the key to healthy plant growth.

Ausplow Managing Director John Ryan (eft) and Peter Alexander busy digging holes to check soil structure in one of the paddocks Peter is trialling the DBS.

Ausplow Managing Director John Ryan (eft) and Peter Alexander busy digging holes to check soil structure in one of the paddocks Peter is trialling the DBS.

By JOHN RYAN AM
The Chinese proverb, ‘The ox is slow, but the earth is patient’, bears some thought.
In the agricultural industry, despite the rapid advance of technology over the past 60 years, there remains a few “oxen”, which more accurately, could be described as “conventional” farming.
In context, it’s about faithfully sticking to what we know, whether that embraces one-pass crop establishment methods, deep ripping, mouldboard plough or spading, or a mixture of all.
We also know the importance of spraying out weeds to conserve moisture for our crops and we have, generally speaking, an integrated weed management plan for our farm.
To an extent we can be satisfied that our “conventional” farming methods are working.
But when I spoke recently with New South Wales farmers Peter and Ros Alexander (‘Whinstanes’, Glen Ines), they are witnessing a changing paradigm.
Peter and Ros farm 3700 acres (1497ha) in picturesque high country that belies major problems – weeds and compacted soils.
Faced with an economic reality of increasing his 250 breeders cow herd, Peter instinctively knows he has to increase carrying capacity, which in turn means improving pasture growth.
At the moment, as we discussed in the June Ausfacts, he endures so-called ‘green drought’ during which predominately perennial ryegrass roots languish in the topsoil, surrounded by moisture unable to infiltrate deeper in a compacted zone (enhancing water-logging).
In summer, as the ground dries out, the crop stays green, growth is stunted and is of no nutritional value for his cows, and crops rarely respond to urea treatments.
The conventional method of establishing perennial ryegrass is to use a disc seeder operating on seven-inch (17.5cm) row spacings and seeding shallow, with the idea to choke out weeds.
“But our conventional methods aren’t working,” Peter said. “We try to keep on top of weeds like carpet grass and rat’s tail fescue, but it’s a major problem.
“That’s why I decided to trial the DBS with the Pro D tool system this year, and we’re now convinced it’s the right tool to improve our pastures.”
Peter used our DBS trial planter which provides a working width of 12 feet (3.6m) with two rows of modules, equipped with paired rows spaced at 10 inches (25cm). It carries a hopper with an option for liquid delivery.
“We trialled the DBS in two paddocks and there are some interesting observations.
“With the paired rows, we can suppress weed growth but more importantly it means we don’t have to spray the weeds out and kill established grass at the same time.
“Conventionally we would be killing 50 to 60 per cent of good established grass when we sprayed paddocks out, which to me is a waste and it also destroys the root systems of those plants.
“We still spray but it’s a more targeted program where appropriate, rather than a blanket approach.
“And in the DBS trial strips we’re getting quicker re-growth by not spraying, so feed is available quicker.
“My aim is to develop permanent pasture with a mix of ryegrass and clover and we’ll trial things like brassicas and other deep-rooted plant varieties to put a bit of structure into the soils.”
In one 50 acre (20ha) paddock, Peter established a trial of ryegrass, clover and brassica and it was readily apparent he did not work the DBS deep enough, because of classic L-shaped roots hitting a hardpan (A higher horsepower tractor has since solved that problem).
In another 40 acre (16ha) paddock infested with carpet grass, Peter said the DBS trial demonstrated how opening up the soil and allowing air and moisture to penetrate, resulted in robust clover growth choking out carpet grass, which was of no feed value.
His strategy in this paddock will be to selectively spray areas of non-clover growth, sow ryegrass and in the third year establish a perennial pasture.
“Basically, I would like to use the DBS firstly to build-up poor-performing areas and then continually improve better performing areas,” he said.
What excites Peter is the possibilities.
“We’re already looking at soil microbes and how best to use them to produce healthier and more palatable pastures,” he said. “That’s why a part of the DBS trials involves liquid nutrients like worm castings and ameliorants like Calbud to elevate soil pH.
“The trials will also give us an idea of how we’re improving the structure of the soil which produces many benefits.
“It’s interesting in the trial strips where we have used the DBS, because in October the clovers and rye were still regenerating after a very dry few months through July to September.
“Where we didn’t go with the DBS, the paddocks are bare and brown so it’s a good indication of the ripping effect of the DBS to access the moisture that’s obviously still there.
“The brassica plants in October were being eaten to the crown by the cows and were still regenerating, so if we get good rain, we’ll get more prolific growth.”
(Since the time of writing, Peter reports rainfall figures of 117mm on his property.
“The plant growth on the DBS strips are heathier and more palatable, the established root systems have captured all the available moisture compared with the rest of the paddocks, where runoff is a problem,” he said).
The trials have convinced Peter he is on the right pathway and has ordered a 12-foot model with the option of wings to increase the working width to 14 feet (4.2m).
It will carry the Pro-D tool system with paired rows and it will have the option of liquid and granular delivery. And Peter also has opted for leading coulters which are vital for cutting root matter and stopping the soil from “boiling up” and leaving a lumpy and cloddy top-soil.
He already is expanding his trial program to include sudax (to cut for round bale silage) and establish dolichus lab lab, a deep-rooted legume, which also will greatly enhance soil structure.
Part of his rotation program in permanent pasture, also will include triticale and soybeans (for silage) along with “shotgun mixes” to fill any gaps.
“With the DBS, we’ll also be able to renovate pastures every two years with the option to seed or introduce liquid calcium, if required,” he said.
It’s enlightening to remember that the father of the seed drill, Jethro Tull, said in 1701, that air and moisture were imperatives to reach the roots of crop plants, hence his invention to plant seeds at regular intervals, at the right depth and cover them with earth.
If the “oxen” could speak, their words might well be: Old is new again.

Regenerating poor-performing pastures with DBS

category: 
Pasture Renovation
Ausplow general manager Chris Farmer (left), Keith Ryan, who will be overseeing the pasture trials in New South Wales, Ausplow managing director John Ryan AM and Glen Innes, NSW farmer, Peter Alexander, pictured next to the Ausplow trial seeder. Keith, who is John’s brother, has had extensive experience and knowledge of deep tillage and the DBS system. Ausplow service manager Ray Beecham is obscured underneath the trial seeder. Ray plays a pivotal role visiting DBS owners throughout Australia.

Ausplow general manager Chris Farmer (left), Keith Ryan, who will be overseeing the pasture trials in New South Wales, Ausplow managing director John Ryan AM and Glen Innes, NSW farmer, Peter Alexander, pictured next to the Ausplow trial seeder. Keith, who is John’s brother, has had extensive experience and knowledge of deep tillage and the DBS system. Ausplow service manager Ray Beecham is obscured underneath the trial seeder. Ray plays a pivotal role visiting DBS owners throughout Australia.

Healthy germinations of brassica and ryegrass sown into ryegrass pasture. According to Ausplow managing director John Ryan AM, Ausplow has shown for more than two decades - since the introduction of the DBS - that aerating the soil, providing a water-harvesting trench and placing the seed at the optimal depth, are key features to properly establish and grow healthy plants. “In the case of cash crops, there’s a yield benefit and in the case of pasture crops there’s a huge nutritional benefit,” John said.

Healthy germinations of brassica and ryegrass sown into ryegrass pasture. According to Ausplow managing director John Ryan AM, Ausplow has shown for more than two decades - since the introduction of the DBS - that aerating the soil, providing a water-harvesting trench and placing the seed at the optimal depth, are key features to properly establish and grow healthy plants. “In the case of cash crops, there’s a yield benefit and in the case of pasture crops there’s a huge nutritional benefit,” John said.

Trial work on two northern New South Wales farms in the Tablelands, shows promise of unlocking potential to boost grazing pastures. Ausplow owner and managing director John Ryan AM has been working with Glen Innes farmers Peter Alexander (‘Whinstanes’) and Greg Chappell (‘Shannon Vale Station’) in establishing several trial sites on their respective properties.

The objective is to overcome so-called ‘green drought’ during which predominately perennial ryegrass roots languish in the topsoil, surrounded by moisture unable to infiltrate deeper in a compacted zone (enhancing water-logging). In summer, as the ground dries out, the crop stays green, growth is stunted and is of no nutritional value for stock (cattle) feed, and the crops rarely respond to urea treatments.

The conventional method of establishing perennial ryegrass is to use a disc seeder operating on seven inch (17.5cm) row spacings and seeding shallow.

That was done this year on Peter Alexander’s property weeks before John Ryan spoke to Peter and Greg about using a DBS trial seeder operating on 12 inch (30cm) spacings.

It is used to dig to a depth of seven inches, in effect cultivating below the seed and the existing pasture.

The machine also aerates the soil, while precisely placing fertiliser at a required depth and seed at an optimum shallow depth. In the trials on Peter’s property, using the Pro-D tillage system (without the ‘Plus’ or bottom plate), the DBS established brassica forage varieties, like sudax, and ryegrass, with a balanced liquid fertiliser and Calbud, which essentially is finely-ground dolomite for soil pH management and carbon addition.

In Greg’s trials, he opted for a balanced granular formula to plant ryegrass and Lucerne. Early autumn growth in the DBS-established trials on both properties have excited Peter and Greg and they are looking forward to continuing further trials in Spring to evaluate other planting options and to evaluate this first trial in terms of the spring flush. Traditionally, ryegrass is left as a perennial which is why John suggested sowing another crop with a deeper root system (taproot), to aerate the soil to allow plants to ‘hang on’ better in summer and for N-fixing.

“So basically, with the action of the DBS in breaking up soil hardpans and encouraging water infiltration, when temperatures rise, roots will be able to access moisture at depth and overcome that green drought in summer months,” John said.

“I think it’s a very exciting development for farmers who have struggled to produce strong, healthy pastures on land that over time has compacted, and therefore provided only a shallow zone for roots and moisture.

“The Northern Rivers districts, which have higher average rainfall, is also good cattle country and all the valleys are mostly fertile alluvial sandy loam, but the clay content has aided soil compaction, along with trafficking and weathering. “Deep ripping is not an option in the Tablelands region, in the typical sandier alluvial soil, because of the abundance of subsoil obstructions, such as rocks.

“But in this country, the DBS works well, as it does in similar soils throughout the Australian wheatbelt. And remember, there will be no need for the higher horsepower tractors, which are needed for deep ripping. “Typically you can assume a horsepower requirement pulling the DBS of 8-10hp a tine.

“So, on a 12 foot machine, with 10 tines, you’re looking at between 80 and 100hp to pull the DBS. “We have shown for more than two decades - since the introduction of the DBS - that aerating the soil, providing a water-harvesting trench and placing the seed at the optimal depth, are key features to properly establish and grow healthy plants.

“In the case of cash crops, there’s a yield benefit and in the case of pasture crops there’s a huge nutritional benefit.” “Interestingly, the regeneration system could save water because of effective infiltration and reduced run-off.” The big bonus of the trials, according to John, will be the flush of African love grass which can be slashed and the cattle then eat the new shoots.

“No chemicals will be needed which is a big cost saving and I think you’ll see this type of pressure on love grass will reduce its seed population,” he said. “It also could have the benefit to compete with carpet grass and therefore there will be no need to spray out pastures. “You can retain all the grasses and have the benefits of improved water infiltration and new growth as plant roots navigate old root pathways to access deeper moisture.”

When the next set of trials are planned (for Spring planting this year), John said more plant options would come under consideration. “The benefit of perennial ryegrass of course, is that it’s permanent and you don’t have to plant every year,” he said.

“And it responds very well to a deep working. “But options could include soy beans for the nitrogen benefit, or sudax with a large fibrous root, which can also be cut for silage. “Or Lucerne, with a longer tap root, which also can be cut for silage.

“Both sudax and Lucerne will facilitate oxygen at depth by aerating the soil. “This will assist in plant root breakdown into soil humus. “For Spring sowings you could establish tropical grasses, like dolichus lablab, which has attributes of deep rooting, is an excellent forage crop and it fixes nitrogen.”

John also mentioned his work was partly inspired by Colonel Harold Fletcher White (1883-1971), a grazier and soldier who was one of the early pioneers of pasture development in his district at Guyra. And currently he is impressed by work done by retired CSIRO principal soil scientist Dr Margaret Roper who is revealing some exciting side benefits of her work into overcoming water-repellent soils.