Pre­ci­sion plant­ing

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - AgLife - BY JEMMA PEARL

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.

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