Yields push to build on grower fo­cus

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

A MA­JOR project look­ing to boost ce­real pro­duc­tion across Tas­ma­nia was launched last week.

About 100 farm­ers turned out for the Hy­per Yield­ing Ce­real Project field day at Ha­gley.

The project aims to in­crease av­er­age red wheat feed­grain yields from 4.4 tonnes a hectare up to 7 tonnes a hectare by 2020 and to boost com­mer­cial wheat crop yields to 14 tonnes a hectare in the same time.

The trial in­cludes 50 wheat and 11 bar­ley va­ri­eties in more than 800 in­di­vid­ual plots.

At last week’s field day a range of guest speak­ers dis­cussed chal­lenges grow­ers could meet as they push to lift yields.

Pa­trick Stephen­son, a lead­ing Bri­tish agron­o­mist, shared ex­pe­ri­ences from the UK’s ce­real in­dus­try ex­pan­sion.

Mr Stephen­son said to boost pro­duc­tion in Tas­ma­nia to 14 tonnes a hectare or more, a change of mind­set would be needed.

“You need to re­think how you’re grow­ing wheat.

“At the mo­ment it’s of­ten a break crop be­tween high-value crops, but is has to be con­sid­THE ered more as a high-value crop it­self.”

Each year about 1.8 mil­lion hectares of wheat is now grown in the UK and Mr Stephen­son said this meant there had been much more fo­cus on wheat by plant breed­ers, com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing crop treat­ments and agron­o­mists.

“The most im­por­tant de­ci­sion you’ll make is the va­ri­ety you’re go­ing to grow,” he said.

“For a long time in he UK the fo­cus was on yield, but now re­sis­tance is a prob­lem, so they are look­ing for va­ri­eties with more nat­u­ral re­sis­tance. Now we’re get­ting a bal­ance be­tween good yields and dis­ease re­sis­tance.”

He said a smaller range of treat­ment op­tions for fun­gal dis­eases would be a chal­lenge for Tas­ma­nian grow­ers.

“It’s the finer points that get you the big yields,” he said.

“If you’re aim­ing for yields over 14 tonnes you need to get the ba­sic parts right first.”

New Zealand farmer War­ren Dar­ling cur­rently holds the record for the high­est yield­ing bar­ley crop of 13.8 tonnes a hectare.

The pre­vi­ous world record crop of 12.2 tonnes was grown 25 years ago.

Mr Dar­ling told farm­ers the high yield could be at­trib­uted to a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing the coastal lo­ca­tion of his farm and a very good sea­son.

Other crit­i­cal fac­tors in­clude get­ting soil prepa­ra­tion right and cor­rect seed place­ment at sow­ing to get the right plant den­sity.

Mr Dar­ling his oper­a­tion in­cor­po­rated crop residues into the soil soon af­ter har­vest­ing and tried to min­imise soil com­paction.

He said to en­sure crop nu­tri­tion was spot on they did reg­u­lar tis­sue test­ing through­out the sea­son.

“There were no se­cret recipes I could pin­point to get­ting this crop,” he said.

“It just comes down to a few things, get­ting the agron­omy right, know­ing the key growth stages and also hav­ing a good sea­son and lo­ca­tion helped.”

It’s the finer points that get you the big yields

PA­TRICK STEPHEN­SON

Glam­or­gan Spring Bay Coun­cil has agreed to for­ward al­most 4000 rep­re­sen­ta­tions re­lat­ing to pro­posed sal­mon farm­ing at Oke­hamp­ton Bay to the Tas­ma­nian Plan­ning Com­mis­sion but its view is the con­cerns raised in the rep­re­sen­ta­tions do not war­rant changes.

Res­i­dents packed the Tri­abunna coun­cil cham­bers this week and signs read­ing “no fish farms” were on dis­play.

Deputy Mayor Ch­eryl Arnol said she had “grave con­cerns” about the num­ber of iden­ti­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tions sub­mit­ted through En­vi­ron­ment Tas­ma­nia. Of the 3863 sub­mis­sions made, 3795 were iden­ti­cal.

“That site has been home to aqua­cul­ture ac­tiv­i­ties for 40 years,” Cr Arnol said.

“The last time it was pris­tine was when Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple fished there in ca­noes.”

Tas­sal plans to in­stall 28 pens hold­ing 800,000 fish in Oke­hamp­ton Bay.

Or­ford res­i­dent and pres­i­dent of RecFish Tas­ma­nia Don Pa­ton said the board of his or­gan­i­sa­tion was “100 per cent” against the fish-farm pro­posal.

“We’ve got one of the last, most beau­ti­ful, un­touched parts of Tas­ma­nia left on the East Coast and to let [Tas­sal] up here would be an ab­so­lute disas­ter,” he said.

Res­i­dent Bernie Wange­man said his home was close to the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment.

“It does af­fect our ameni­ties, there’ll be noise, there’ll be lights, there’ll be traf­fic, I could prob­a­bly live with that, but I can’t live with what they’re do­ing to the ocean.”

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