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2020 a focus on liquid nutrients

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Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left), talks with Ausplow consultant Dr Margaret Roper, Ausplow General Manager Chris Farmer and Managing Director John Ryan AM in a freshly-harvested crop of Planet barley to examine the closeness of the roots to the previous year’s row.

Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left), talks with Ausplow consultant Dr Margaret Roper, Ausplow General Manager Chris Farmer and Managing Director John Ryan AM in a freshly-harvested crop of Planet barley to examine the closeness of the roots to the previous year’s row.

As we move into a new year, our focus remains on continuing a comprehensive research and development program.
It will be spearheaded by our liquid nutrient trials on our Quairading trial site which have produced promising results from 2019 in a difficult ‘moisture-deprived’ year.
We also will expand trials associated with near-furrow sowing with particular focus on how Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham fares with his move this year to maintain the DBS pot plant furrows.
Theo has been one of the early adopters of near-row sowing in 2018 using the ProTrakker guidance hitch attached to his 46 foot (13.9 metres) DBS precision seeder for the past two years. In studying the system, he saw that moving 25mm to the right every year meant an incremental shift away from the original ‘pot plant’ and the inherent nutrients.
So this year he will try a 20mm shift to the left of the furrow and begin an alternating left-right pattern of near-row crop establishment every year, basically maintaining the integrity of the ‘pot plant’.
The ProTrakker was bought in 2015 from WA distributor Burando Hill and after four seasons of use,
Theo says the theory of the benefits of near-row sowing is now solid fact.
“It has given us the ability to establish crops every year during the optimum growing window while minimising the risk of establishment because we’re overcoming non-wetting issues,” he said.
“That gives plants the chance to achieve their yield potential.
“Our average crop yields are slowly creeping up but the best thing is that we are now more confident in our expectations of reliably achieving 1.8 tonnes (a hectare) with canola, three tonnes with wheat and 3.5t/ha with barley.
“These have become realistic figures for our annual budgets.”
In 2019 he established his cereal crops with 50 litres of Flexi-N applied with the seed with Impact and used 1.5L/ha of surfactant SE14, a deep-banded moisture retaining agent.
“We used the SE14 as a risk-aversion tool because even using the ProTrakker you can’t guarantee you’ll sow exactly onto the old root furrow,” Theo said.
“So it’s a bit of insurance to make sure the seed gets away and the roots go straight down if not in, but near the old root furrow.
“The other advantage of using the same row and not disturbing stubbles is that the stubbles act like moisture conduits directing water into the furrow.”
One of Theo’s concerns is the possible increase in diseases but Ausplow trial co-ordinator and micro-biologist Dr Margaret Roper says disease incidence in near-row trials at Munglinup over seven years showed minimal presence.
“It (disease) certainly needs a proper evaluation but our trials show, in the presence of moisture in the old root pathways, beneficial bacteria can flourish,” she said. “Some of these bacteria have the potential to reduce root diseases.”

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Monday, February 17, 2020