Anew Grains Research Development Corporation investment will investigate opportunities to optimise canola, wheat and pulse plant establishment, density and spacings to maximise crop yield and profit in the southern and western regions.
Led by the University of Adelaide, Birchip Cropping Group will provide a Wimmera and Mallee part of the project by researching opportunities for precision planting and the potential gains by improving conventional seeders.
BCG researcher Claire Browne said the purpose of the investment was to determine the typical rates of crop establishment achieved by growers, the factors influencing this, and to explore methods to improve the rate of crop establishment.
She said there was a growing interest in precision planting and what potential that had to influence what happened onfarm.
“Precision planters have the potential to both reduce variation in seeding depths, ensure even spaces between small seeds, improve seeding rate accuracy and reduce seed costs in crops such as hybrid canola, given the higher seed cost,” Ms Browne said.
A precision planter differs to conventional air-seeding systems in that it has a rate meter on every shoot that allows one seed to be released at a time – singulation.
“Precision planters are more commonly used in summer crops and are still being finetuned for small seeded crops, thus the need for the research in the southern grains environment,” Ms Browne said.
The five-year project will include collaboration across Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
Project partners include the University of South Australia, Hart Field-site Group, Southern Farming Systems, Northern Sustainable Soils, Western Australian No-tillage Farmers Association, Liebe Group, Facey Group, Corrigin Farm Improvement Group and BCG.
“A large component of the project requires 200 paddocks, 100 in the GRDC western region and 100 in the southern region, to be surveyed for establishment counts, interplant distance, germination percentage and soil moisture,” Ms Browne said.
She said the surveying would allow the project team to better understand current practices given that significant gains could still be achieved in improving the operation of conventional seeders.
“Southern Farming Systems will be surveying 15 paddocks – beans and lentils – while BCG will survey 35 paddocks of canola and lentils spread over the Wimmera and Mallee,” she said.
Growers interested in looking at a trial comparing establishment, seeding rate and spacing between a precision planter and tyne seeder are encouraged to attend the BCG Main Field Day on September 12 in Narraport.
Ms Browne said for more information on the BCG Wimmera research program, people should stay tuned to this column. Alternatively, they can call BCG on 5492 2787.