Wait for rain­fall goes on

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - PAUL MCIN­TOSH

WELL, we are still wait­ing for our win­ter plant­ing rain and none of us would com­plain much if it rained steadily for a week.

So writ­ing about crops and weeds is fairly tough when many of us have none and the care fac­tor about non-ex­is­tent weeds in very dry and blueish ce­real fod­der or grain crops is fairly low. How­ever I would like to talk about soil and, in par­tic­u­lar, your soil.

We drive heavy ma­chin­ery on top of them and at times put me­chan­i­cal im­ple­ments through the up­per soil layer, we re­move the grain all the time and the stub­ble at times as well.

Ad­mit­tedly mostly we are on con­trolled wheel track­ing these days and zero or min­i­mum till has re­ally im­proved our soil struc­ture, along with in­creas­ing the wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion and mois­ture hold­ing ca­pac­ity.

We still ex­pect them to pro­duce fu­ture crops just by mostly adding urea or an­hy­drous am­mo­nia and some starter phos­pho­rous prod­ucts.

Weed con­trol has re­ally as­sumed a large por­tion of our time now with her­bi­cide re­sis­tance so preva­lent, so soils and soil health/struc­ture gets left be­hind.

I re­alise con­trol­ling or chang­ing these soil struc­ture de­stroy­ing as­pects in large farm­ing op­er­a­tions is dif­fi­cult, how­ever some small or large ad­just­ments to your farm­ing prac­tice may well have a very pos­i­tive ef­fect on your crop yields.

Soils are made up of min­eral par­ti­cles, or­ganic mat­ter, wa­ter or bet­ter ex­plained, the soil so­lu­tion and then air, which all plants need and sub­se­quently fills the par­ti­cle spa­ces not filled with wa­ter.

A very old prod­uct that used to be cheap and very avail­able out of the fer­tiliser works in Bris­bane is gyp­sum or rightly de­scribed in this old man­u­fac­tured process as phos­ph­o­gyp­sum.

There are also re­cy­cled prod­ucts from Red­bank Plains made out of re­claimed or re­cy­cled old gyprock or plas­ter walls.

I have ob­served this cheaper prod­uct be­ing used and while the even spread­ing of the small chunky bits of plas­ter­board is a bit hap­haz­ard, it cer­tainly does work the ex­act way all these cal­cium and sul­phur gyp­sum type prod­ucts work in our less than ideal soils.

How­ever it is a type of salt and there­fore your EC (elec­tri­cal con­duc­tiv­ity) lev­els need as­sess­ment of your soil salt lev­els, be­fore au­to­mat­i­cally as­sum­ing gyp­sum will cure all your soil struc­ture prob­lems.

Some sim­ple pad­dock knowl­edge like big sur­face crust­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics, hard­ness in the top soil area for ease of cul­ti­va­tion, poor mois­ture in­fil­tra­tion and/or even­tual mois­ture stor­age and fi­nally some de­cent and reliable seed ger­mi­na­tion and seedling emer­gences, can all lead to an as­sump­tion that gyp­sum will be good for your soil.

A com­pre­hen­sive soil test can also give you clear in­di­ca­tions of whether a gyp­sum ap­pli­ca­tion would be use­ful.

The one I take most no­tice of is ex­change­able sodium per­cent­age in al­ka­line soils.

Con­sider your soil en­vi­ron­ment while we wait pa­tiently for rain to plant our still in­tended big win­ter crop.

PHOTO: JOSEPH BAR­CLAY

WAIT­ING GAME: Grow­ers are still des­per­ate for win­ter rain to kick­start the plant­ing of their win­ter crops.

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