Bencubbin farmer and Nuffield Scholar Nick Gillett said the BioFurrow™ “makes fundamental sense to build our soils and enhance water-holding capacity”.

Bencubbin farmer and Nuffield Scholar Nick Gillett said the BioFurrow™ “makes fundamental sense to build our soils and enhance water-holding capacity”.

By JOHN RYAN AM

 

Since announcing our BioFurrow™ story last year I have received a lot of positive feedback from DBS owners. And the most striking comment came from New South Wales farmer Greg Chappell, Glen Innes. “Wouldn’t it be great if every farmer in Australia had a goal to lift the organic carbon levels on their farms by one per cent,” Greg said. “Imagine the enormous impact that would have on the nation’s effort to sequester carbon and the increased respect it would have for agriculture.” I think Greg has hit the nail on the head and it is the reason, I think, we should start a conversation on the BioFurrow™.

 

Central to everything we have written thus far on the benefits of the BioFurrow™, is the ability to sequester carbon while improving our soils and farm profits. We are already planning our 2021 trial program at our Quairading Research and Development Centre and we also are excited about several DBS owners who are keen to be involved in trials on their own properties. As part of the conversation on the BioFurrow™ we also present the following comments from DBS owners:

 

Theo Cunningham, Cranbrook: We’ve been doing implement-steer near-row sowing for five years and this year we started trialling the BioFurrow™. Previously we had been nudging across the paddock and I thought why not stick to the same row so we did a trial paddock where we nudged left about two centimetres and didn’t disturb the stubble. There were no negatives and it made it easier for the air seeder driver using the shift on our guidance. We’ve kept a record of what we’ve done and for 2021 we’ll nudge right near the same row and I expect that from now on we’ll do it for our entire program. It just makes sense and I’m excited by the innovation which can employ the latest technologies. I think we’ll also see some cost efficiencies because we will be using less diesel and perhaps we won’t have to deep rip if we can maintain furrows for life. (Theo’s trial work this year was the inspiration for the Bio Furrow™).

Greg Chappell, Glenn Innes, NSW: I’ve always said it’s important to get the biology working and the BioFurrow™ will do just that. It makes a lot of sense, particularly providing a stable environment where we can have a crack at building our organic carbon levels. That’s the crux to improve our water-holding capacity for growing crops in our variable climates. Wouldn’t it be great if every farmer in Australia had a goal to lift the organic carbon levels on their farms by one per cent. Imagine the enormous impact that would have on the nation’s effort to sequester carbon and the increased respect it would have for agriculture.

Brendan Smart, Keith, SA: The BioFurrow™ makes irrefutable sense. Although we don’t have the guidance technology of implement steering to do it yet, I knew something was going on in the late 1990s when we were establishing crops with the DBS on the inter-row with no guidance. We were on 10 inch spacings and you could see every time we got closer to last year’s row, the crops were better. We still see that today and we have put it down to roots accessing more nutrients near the old row. But I 100 per cent agree with the BioFurrow™ concept.

Nick Gillett, Bencubbin, WA: I definitely agree we should start a conversation about this concept because it makes fundamental sense to build our soils and enhance water-holding capacity for our broadacre cropping systems. We have been inter-row sowing since 2003 with a sidearm marker but it was generally seeding freehand and we definitely noticed a positive to crop growth with plants closer the last year’s rows. Since 2005 we have been on RTK guidance and in years when conditions are right we will sow into the old rows chasing moisture where’s there’s not a great stubble load. In principle I support the work being done by Ausplow and I’m keen to do some trials.

Peter Alexander, Glenn Innes, NSW: I think the BioFurrow™ is just comment sense and it’s certainly the way to go for broadacre cropping. At the moment we’re trying to combat new country with the DBS and it’s not the sort of country that lends itself to precision guidance. But with our experience with the DBS and what it is achieving for us it is easy to understand why establishing a furrow for life would have a lot of benefits.

Jeff Edwards, Kweda, WA: We’ll definitely give it a go because it makes sense to us. It will cost us about $8000 to upgrade to RTK guidance and there’s a tower next to the farm so that will get us started. I’m excited that we’re now getting opportunities to build organic carbon with a lot more tools in the toolbox. It’s a big challenge but we’re up for a goal of lifting our organic carbon by one per cent. At the moment it ranges from 0.5 to two in the long term pasture paddocks.

 

One subject that came up with many DBS owners we spoke with related to stubble, particularly if it’s a wet season. Implement steering to a large extent should mitigate problems with stubble wrapping around tines but leading disc coulters will greatly assist by cutting old lateral plant roots to prevent bulldozing which can also lead to dragging in stubble into the tines. Those involved in near-row sowing know that while we’ve had several years of dry starts it’s only a matter of time before a decent wet start is experienced again.

In any event, please let me know of your experiences or ideas to continue our conversation. You can contact me at john@ausplow.com.au

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Publish Date: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2021