This example of near-row sowing is where Kweda farmer Jeff Edwards is heading with trials this year leading towards establishing the BioFurrow™ system in the near future.

This example of near-row sowing is where Kweda farmer Jeff Edwards is heading with trials this year leading towards establishing the BioFurrow™ system in the near future.

Kweda and DBS owner Jeff Edwards believes a holistic approach is his best pathway to a sustainable and profitable farming enterprise.
The family crops 5000 hectares and manages 3000ha of pasture, running 6500 Merino breeding ewes, ‘maxxing’ out the flock at 14,000 head.
Soils comprise mainly duplex sandplain with some heavy country.
The holistic approach comes from Jeff’s desire to improve soil health.
He is a big fan of digging soil pits which have revealed weaknesses in the sandplain soils.
“I have always been concerned about the impact of current farming systems on soils, particularly from chemicals, compaction and other practices,” he said.
"If we want to keep producing more from less rainfall, we really need to look at our soil health and what is happening down at depth, not just on the surface.
“That’s why I believe the Ausplow hypothesis of the BioFurrow ™ is credible. (The BioFurrow™ is, in, effect, near-row sowing but is essentially a ‘furrow for life’ as opposed to ‘nudging’ the furrow across the landscape in each cropping year).
“To me it’s a logical way to increase soil health, which is my main goal.
“And if I can achieve that I will be evening out the highs and lows of seasons with improved water-use efficiency during the growing season.”
While Jeff is a strong advocate of the DBS he also believes that there is a “first step” before setting up the BioFurrow™, which is basically near-row sowing but using the same “pot plant” created by the DBS each year.
“Digging the soil pits showed me our subsoils were basically dead and that’s why I started incorporating lime and gypsum,” he said.
“Last year I used a Bednar Terraland to mix the gypsum and lime on a 500ha test paddock at a depth of 450 mills and then sowed with the DBS.
“The result was very encouraging and the return on investment was definitely there with a one tonne a hectare average above yields we got in the paddocks we didn’t work.
“And we have seen faster elevation of soil pH in the 500ha paddock moving to around 5.5pH.
“This year we will rip lime in at 250mm as we expand our trial to 1000ha.
“The 60-foot DBS on 10 inch spacings easily handled the softer area we Terralanded; we just fitted the bigger 90mm press wheels and reset the chocks so there was no room for error.
“Next year we may have a crack at setting up for near-row sowing employing the BioFurrow™ hypothesis.
“My thoughts are that if we do set up for the BioFurrow™ we will bring country into that regime after we have set it up with lime and gypsum applications.
“This year we’ll trial cross-tracking (sowing at an angle over last year’s plants) and assess. (Jeff doesn’t see stubble issues because crops are harvested at beer can height and stubbles grazed).
“It makes sense to me to get the soil in a better state before we start on the BioFurrow™.
“And I think there should be more focus on the plant availability of nutrients which logically involves having healthy populations of micro biota in the soil.
“Soil health is our main goal because it will lead to increased profits with more stable production in moisture-limiting years.
“Importantly financiers will be on board because of that and the resultant increase in land values.”

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Publish Date: 
Thursday, July 15, 2021