Crop area hits a high: sur­vey

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Rod­ney Woods

A record low amount of pas­ture and a record high crop area were ma­jor take­aways from an Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria-run sur­vey.

Sea­sonal risk agron­o­mist Dale Grey, who con­ducted the sur­vey along with fel­low sea­sonal risk agron­o­mist Dale Boyd and grad­u­ate re­search agron­o­mist Rachel Coombes, said the ra­tio of pas­ture grown to crop area planted had changed dra­mat­i­cally since the sur­vey started 21 years ago.

‘‘For the last 10 years, the fig­ures have es­sen­tially stag­nated but this year there has been a change,’’ he said.

‘‘In 1988, 65 per cent of pad­docks was grown for pas­ture and 28 per cent were for crops.

‘‘In 2008, pas­ture was grown in 47 per cent of pad­docks and 50 per cent for crops and this year 43 per cent of pad­docks are grow­ing pas­ture and crops are oc­cu­py­ing 53 per cent.’’

The north-east drive-by sur­vey has been done on the same 682 pad­docks that are in the area bor­dered by the Mur­ray River to the north and the Bro­ken River and Hume Hwy to the south.

With dry con­di­tions and frost forc­ing farm­ers to cut crops for hay rather than take them through for har­vest, records have also been bro­ken in the per­cent­age of wheat and canola hay pro­duced.

‘‘A record 38 per cent of wheat has been cut for hay. We’ve seen noth­ing like this since 2007,’’ Mr Grey said.

‘‘For canola, 58 per cent has been cut for hay. You have to go back to 2006-07 to come close.’’

With the canola fig­ures so high, canola pro­duc­tion has seen a dra­matic drop, re­placed by bar­ley and the re­turn of wheat af­ter a lean year last sea­son.

‘‘We’ve had a record plant­ing of bar­ley, which is not com­mon (to be grown) in north­ern Vic­to­ria,’’ he said.

‘‘Four per cent of all pad­docks (had bar­ley grow­ing) — up 100 per cent on last year.

‘‘Canola plant­ings are down 27 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year. 2017 was a record canola plant­ing and is now sim­i­lar to 2014 and wheat is up 27 per cent on last year af­ter be­ing smashed last year.’’

Take no­tice . . . ero­sion. Grow­ers are ad­vised to re­duce graz­ing and traf­fic across crop­ping pad­docks to min­imise the risk of wind and wa­ter

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