Bencubbin farmer Nick Gillett has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders for his 10,000-hectare cropping program to ensure he completes his program within the ideal sowing window, which he says gives him the ability to get the crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions.

Bencubbin farmer Nick Gillett has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders for his 10,000-hectare cropping program to ensure he completes his program within the ideal sowing window, which he says gives him the ability to get the crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions.

Managing change is arguably the number one challenge for farmers these days.
And for WA farmer Nick Gillett, who manages an 10,000-hectare cropping program at Bencubbin (275km north east of Perth), it’s the reason he has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders.
“In a nutshell, it gives me the ability to get crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions,” he said.
But timing also plays an important role and Nick has noticed the seasons are getting shorter(dry warm finish, etc).
“Basically 2014 was an extremely tough finish and crop-s sown later than mid-May didn’t perform well,” he said.
“This was the primary reason for going from a 50-ft to 60ft DBS in 2015. Seasons have always been changing, however, 2014 stood out.
“Frost is always a concern but sometimes our last seeded crops are the worst affected,” Nick said. “So it’s hard to farm for frost and you’ve got to stick with yield is king.
“It’s better to set up a potential two tonne crop with the risk of some frost than a 1.4t crop potential and not getting any frost.”
It’s a similar attitude to liquids and near-row sowing.
This year Nick is returning to trialling liquids again, in his marginal area with about 310mm of average rainfall.
“We started with Flexi-N in 2000 and basically did it until 2015,” he said.
“We stopped simply because of the cost differential between Flexi-N and granulated urea, the ease of operator use and the variability of zinc and Flutriafol (fungicide).
“With the latter we were getting build-up inside the nozzle body and sometimes a skin across the filters.
“We found poor tank mix compatibility and it added another complexity level for the operator to check componentry and keep an eye on pressures.”
Nick has two 6000 litre capacity liquid carts to provide a bigger capacity outside of his air seeders and with the acquisition of his second 60-foot DBS, with Friction Flow liquid kit, he hopes he will have time to “play around a bit” with liquid nutrition.
“I think it’s time to go back to liquids but it still depends on the pricing spread between urea and Flexi-N,” he said.
With near-row sowing, Nick says inter-row sowing with RTK has been his management practice since 2006.
“If we’re chasing moisture to get a germination we more often go on-row because our stubble levels aren’t too high,” he said. “But our main aim is to sow in between the rows and maintain our standing stubble.
“On-row is probably less than five per cent of our program and is mainly a tool for the heavier clay type soils where germination can be an issue with small amounts of rain.”
“I know non-wetting can be an issue sowing inter-row but it’s not an issue here because of our soil types and rotations.
“We mostly have Mallee soils running into Salmon Gum clay loams to deeper sands and gravels.
Nick maintains a watchful eye on changes.
“The game changes every year and you try to make little increments of change because it is still hard to know if you’re doing everything correctly,” he said.
“We have proven recipes but the problem is utilising the best recipe for a given season.
“I think the best tools are timeliness and attention to detail."

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Monday, April 27, 2020