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The

Mallee Farmer FOR FA RME R S I N T H E M A L L EE REGION

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Harnessing the power of PA

ISSUE 11 • Winter - Spring 2016

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New incentives on offer for Mallee farmers

Curiosity kills the cats

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.


The

Mallee Farmer Contents Mallee seasonal update

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What do you want from your Mallee Farmer?

Mallee life through the lens

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Harnessing the power of PA

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Why I’m excited about Precision Ag

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Rotations control herbicide resistance in the southern Mallee

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the stunning image on the front cover, and a look at the program underway at Hattah Lakes targeting feral cats.

National Landcare Programme: 2016 Incentives

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But what would you like to see?

Mallee farms winning through onground incentives

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National Landcare Programme - seeing the funding hit the ground

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National Landcare Programme Reclaiming the dunes

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Nitrogen fixation by grain legume crops in the Mallee

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Insights into Control Traffic Farming

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Happy Birthday Landcare

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Looking back on Landcare in the Mallee

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The 2016 National Landcare Conference

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Working safe in the Mallee

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Farmers - have your say on the future of weed warfare

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Rotational effects of legume termination

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RabbitScan - Keeping in touch with a Mallee pest

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Supporting families and communities through the drought

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Sowing big so we don’t loose the plot

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Curiosity the key to feral cat control

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ISSN: 1839 - 2229

Cover Image Photo: Lachlan Healy

In order to make sure the Mallee Farmer continues to offer what its readers want, the Mallee CMA is running a short survey to gather readers’ views and advice. An electronic link to the email will be sent out to a wide range of our stakeholders, but if you would like to get on and have your say, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ MalleeFarmer2016

The Mallee Farmer was first produced in its current format in August 2011 and now, ten editions later, it’s a good time to take a look at what the Mallee Farmer is delivering and what you, its valued readers, would like to see in the future. We know that there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to dryland farming in the Mallee. The Mallee Farmer attempts to showcase some of the innovative and exciting research, trials and demonstrations underway across the region, while ensuring readers also get a taste of other key issues and topics relevant to their lives. For example, in this edition, we’ve got the latest on precision agriculture, some insights into controlled traffic farming, and a look at the latest grants and incentives available to local farmers. There’s also a feature on Ouyen farmer-turned-photographer Lachlan Healy, who has kindly provided

DISCLAIMER The information in this document has been published in good faith by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA). This publication and the information contained within may be of assistance to you but the Mallee CMA Board and staff do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purpose and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence that may arise from you relying on any information in this publication. You should obtain specialist

The survey will take you less than five minutes to complete and, whether you are a reader, a contributor, or someone who has just picked up the Mallee Farmer for the first time, we would love to know what you think. Thank you again to all the organisations that have supported this edition of the Mallee Farmer newsletter – it is inspiring to see so many people committed to the farming sector and improving our future in farming. I hope you enjoy this edition of the Mallee Farmer. Sharyon Peart Chairperson, Mallee CMA Board

advice on the applicability or otherwise of the information in this document. Neither the Mallee CMA nor any of the agencies/organisations/people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer endorse the information contained in this document, nor do they endorse any products identified by trade name. The information in this document is made available on the understanding that neither the Mallee CMA, nor any the people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer will have any liability arising from any reliance upon any information in this document.


The

Mallee Farmer

Mallee seasonal update We have experienced well above average temperatures allowing the topsoil to remain unseasonably warm. This has resulted in excellent early crop and pasture growth with minimal issues arising. By

Russian Wheat Aphid

2016 seasonal conditions

This very recent, unwanted, exotic aphid incursion has only just been reported within South Australian cereal crops as of late May. By the time you read this, we will all know a lot more about this insect, the extent of its spread, its best bet control and likely impact upon yield.

Twelve months ago I was saying how I had never witnessed such a spread in crop growth stages; such was the staggered seasonal break and varying pre-sowing soil moisture levels across the Mallee. This season, 2016, the opposite is the case. Many were 50% sown dry before the widespread breaking rain the last day of April. Suitable follow-up rains then enabled the balance to be progressively seeded. The end result is a regional evenness in crop establishment rarely seen.

In the meantime we will all have a rapid learning phase as we tackle this new pest that prior to now quarantine had managed to keep overseas. We know that other countries manage this aphid and its toxin upon cereal plants in their environment. But anything new and potentially unknown can cause the stress levels to rise so it is important to keep monitoring for it, to keep informed of the latest science based information and to stay in touch with those you seek valued information from.

By Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision Consultants and GRDC Southern Panel Member

Combined with this very agreeable early May rainfall, we have experienced well above average temperatures allowing the topsoil to remain unseasonably warm. This has resulted in excellent early crop and pasture growth with minimal issues arising. As of early June, the season moves steadily onwards with early in-crop weed control and cereal nitrogen topdressing now occurring as per plan.

Nitrous oxide emissions from Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) I have been fortunate to become involved in a research project from the Australian Controlled Traffic Farming Association that is monitoring the nitrogen losses to the atmosphere from CTF. We now have a site being monitored close to Swan Hill. Measurements are taken regularly

Rob Sonogan

over the crops growing season and soon after the topdressing of nitrogen and rain. Replicated (x4) treatments exist in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia and monitor the losses from the wheel tracks, the uncompacted seedbed and from a random wheel-track. In 2014 at Inverleigh and Horsham it was found that nitrous oxide emissions from un-trafficked areas were about 25% of those from wheel tracks. When interpreted across a whole paddock it has been calculated that some 10 to 16kg/ha of additional nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere from non CTF cropped paddocks. This is nitrogen from either the soil or applied fertiliser that could have been used by a growing crop and of course reduced emissions to the atmosphere.

For more information Contact Rob Sonogan at AGRIvision Consultants Pty Ltd 259 Beveridge Street Swan Hill 3585 Mob: 0407 359 982 Ph: 5032 3377

Russian Wheat Aphid

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The

Mallee Farmer

Mallee life through the lens Farm life takes on a new perspective for local man

By Jacinta Gange, for Mallee CMA Ouyen’s Lachlan Healy is constantly amazed by the photo opportunities that present in a “day at the office” on a Mallee farm. And now his habit of taking his camera everywhere at work has won him a return to trip to South West China in an international photographic competition. Lachlan’s stunning picture of a tractor during seeding was judged runner-up in the Give It Your Best Shot photo competition (see front cover image), designed to strengthen ties between nine Australia-southwest China sister city pairs. The competition required photographers to “capture a piece of home” and was an initiative of the Australian Consulate General in Chengdu, with support from nine Australian councils, including Mildura Rural City Council (sister-city of Dali). Lachlan, 27, works on a farm at Walpeup and took his winning picture during an early-morning shift on the seeder. “I’d been working since six and the sun started to rise about 6.30 – there was no wind and the dust was hanging around on the horizon. It looked fantastic,” Lachlan said. “I’d reached the end of the sowing run and jumped out and quickly took the photo because I just loved the light of the sunrise and the colors rising up through the dust into the horizon,” he said. A friend later tagged him into a Facebook post about the competition and he decided to enter. “I always take my camera with me to work, because there’s always something to photograph. You never know what you will see,” he said. “It’s mainly landscapes, sunrises, sunsets – there are some beautiful photographs that just appear in front of you and if it looks alright, I’ll take a photo.

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Lachlan Healy

“I think this one’s among my best, though!” Lachlan grew up in Ouyen and went to Melbourne to study after finishing Year 12. City life didn’t fit, though, and he returned home to the Mallee to take work on a local farm, then at the Iluka mineral sands mine. He’s now back enjoying farm work on the Latta Brothers’ property north of Walpeup.

“I love the Mallee, the lifestyle, the community and people who have the same interest, which is usually farming!” he said. “But the trip to China will be fantastic and hopefully I can get to go before harvest. I’ve done some research and it will be amazing scenery, temples and panda bears – a little different to my usual photographic material!”


The

Mallee Farmer

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The

Mallee Farmer

Harnessing the power of PA Claims that precision agriculture, data management and information technology will improve the profitability of broadacre farming will be put to the test this year with BCG conducting a series of field trials and demonstrations at its research sites. By Justine Severin and Louisa Ferrier, BCG Responding to farmer inquiry, the next 12 months will see BCG examine how new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), harvester generated yield maps and precision agriculture (PA) might influence production and profitability outcomes in the Mallee and Wimmera.

FIELD TRIALS This year, a ‘PA paddock’ has been established at Manangatang for research on a paddock scale. BCG research officer, Sebastian Ie, said the site will be the main, ‘hands on’ paddock for PA research. “But we intend to use UAV technology at BCG’s other research sites,” he said. Using yield maps generated at harvest time, the field trial will see nitrogen applied to this year’s wheat crop at variable rates across the paddock. The performance and profitability of the variable-rate treatments will be compared to that of a fixed rate treatment. The research will determine if the paddock has significant yield variability and attempt to ascertain what is driving that variability and the most appropriate course of action to address it. A broader understanding of farm data management and interpretation is expected to flow from the project with new technology employed to assess crop performance in the paddock scale trial.

bring real value to a broad range of industries. However, as with many emerging technologies yet to mature, UAVs have been the subject of scepticism and hype, and their actual relevance and impact remains largely unclear. During this growing season UAV’s fitted with infra-red cameras will be employed by BCG to measure crop growth within field trials. Data collected will be compared against measurements taken via satellite and more traditional means such as dry matter cuts and with hand-held GreenSeeking equipment, groundtruthing the results.

FARM SOFTWARE This year BCG will also take the opportunity to assess how workflow and data management can be managed using a range of farm software options. Workflow management is the process of turning UAV images into a useful variable rate output that can be applied on the farm. By investigating a range of software options, BCG hopes to help farmers make informed decisions about future investments in farm software.

PRACTICAL BENEFITS FOR THE FARM While it is acknowledged that cameras mounted on UAV’s can generate photographic images and measure elevation, and normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) sensors can create maps showing biomass and

Prior to sowing at BCG’s 2016 main site at Warmur, a UAV flew over the paddock taking an image of the site. A subsequent flight in late May measured biomass and NDVI via sensors mounted onto the UAV.

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Photography and elevation can be used for site planning. NDVI data, which measures crop emergence, establishment and growth (biomass), can be used to create variable rate prescription maps for in-crop fertiliser applications. NDVI measurements taken later in the season can be compared against yield maps at the end of the season to assess correlation. Ground-truthing these maps is a key aim of BCG in 2016 with traditional, in-field assessments (establishment counts, dry matter tests and tissue nutrient analysis) carried out to test the mapping accuracy. Mapping of the PA paddock will also occur at ground level with optical sensors mounted on a sled used to measure soil texture and electrical conductivity (salinity). Additionally, optical sensors will be towed behind a tractor to map soil texture, EC, OM and pH on-the-go across the paddock. The cost, practical value and accuracy of maps generated from this work will be compared with the UAV maps, satellite imagery and yield maps. BCG commercial services manager Cameron Taylor said the BCG’s investigations had the potential to deliver significant value to farmers with relevant and objective data on the costs and benefits of integrating new technologies into the farm business realised. “Ultimately we are looking to identify technology that will help farmers to analyse risk and respond appropriately in a rapidly changing

For more information

UAV TECHNOLOGY In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have emerged from obscurity to become a consumer technology that proponents claim will

near-infrared reflectance, the practical application of this technology is not fully understood.

BCG staff checking out how new technologies might influence production and profitability in farming.

For details about BCG’s PA research contact Cameron Taylor or Sebastian Ie on (03) 5492 2787.


The

Mallee Farmer

Why I’m excited about Precision Ag Precision ag (PA) is part of the buzz word bingo that the farming community get to play. By Chris Sounness, Chief Executive Officer, BCG Every month or so a new idea or concept will pop up and discussion will invariably follow about how it will revolutionise farming. The reality is that the impact of some ideas will only be revealed over a long period of time. Just think about the overnight sensation that is no-till - 40 years in the making with many of its benefits only kicking in after the other pieces of the puzzle came into play. Nearly every innovation we’ve had builds on something else. While the person at the cutting edge feels they have reinvented the wheel, at best, they are standing on shoulders of giants who have made existing technologies work in the paddock, leading to more productive and profitable farming. Precision ag is going to be slightly different. It will still involve the observation, impact assessment and timely strategic response to fine-scale variation in causative components of an agricultural production process, however it is all about doing it in a site specific way, rather than paddock scale. PA technology is now coming into its own as the computing power needed to handle all the data becomes available. However, the reason why precision ag is exciting but different to previous farm innovations is the amount of value that may be available to the agricultural value chain, and the fact that it will be the farmer who holds the power, and equally, the responsibility. As far I can work out, the farmer is going to be solely responsible for delivering any benefits from precision ag to the value chain. This is because the farmer will have to be willing to collate and share their data. Currently the value chain partners are not presenting a very compelling case for the farmer to do this.

Yield maps are a simple way to illustrate this. This technology has been around for over 10 years and many people who work along the agricultural value chain have indicated that access to compiled sets of yield map data would be extremely useful.

Have you subscribed yet?

Currently though, very few farmers are utilising their yield maps and if they share them it is generally only with their agronomist. Perversely, the development of yield map technology – which has been used as a major harvester selling feature and has been funded by research development dollars extracted by the harvester manufacturer in sale price – is not considered useful by the person who has paid for it. Something is not quite right. Until this value proposition is put in a compelling way, and farmers see the effort in harvesting and sharing their yield maps as valuable as harvesting and selling their grain, I cannot see precision ag going too far. At BCG we are grappling with this problem and over the coming months will test this idea that precision ag data is valuable as a decision-making tool. To make this argument compelling, the proposition will need to value the farmer’s time in collecting and curating the data. It will also be necessary to recognise that while a farmer may be happy to make data available to some parties, for a whole range of reasons, they may not want to share it with others. And this should be easy to do. Ensuring the farmer has control over their own data sets will be integral to adoption.

Check out the Mallee CMA’s You Tube channel to get the latest updates from across the Victorian Mallee. Right now you can see how the Drought Employment Program is making a difference to local communities; witness wild animals making the most of environmental water in southern-Mallee wetlands; and see some fabulous fish research underway on Murray Cod.

Visit YouTube and search for Mallee CMA, or follow this link: www.youtube.com/channel/ UCYINlV1LzwponpQouBlXxJQ

I look forward to talking to our members about precision ag and how we can work together to ensure the farming community gets rewarded if they put in the effort toward making PA the overnight sensation for value chain partners as no-till has been for the environment.

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The

Mallee Farmer

Rotations control herbicide resistance in the southern Mallee By Roy Latta, Dodgshun Medlin There are progressive increases in herbicide resistance associated with the use of both selective and non-selective herbicides. With this in mind a research project was established at Yaapeet in 2014 to demonstrate and validate options for depleting weed seed banks over successive seasons. The study is using two approaches to measure weed population depletion: 1. Using tools to combat the problem in the short term; and 2. Reducing the problem through successive rotational crops and management strategies. To date, two short-term studies have been undertaken, looking at the control of annual grasses (ryegrass and brome) in canola and wild radish in field peas. The results were reported in the August 2015 edition of Mallee Farmer. Both studies demonstrated successful weed control with a range of herbicide strategies. However, they confirmed that a single year’s control of either wild radish or annual grass does not extend adequate control into Year 2.

Crop rotations Taking a more long-term perspective, the study is also measuring annual ryegrass and brome grass persistence through 13 individual rotations, with alternative weed control chemistry and management strategies applied. After Year 2 of the study there were four similar groups, as represented in Table 1. Shannon Blandthorn harvesting trial plots. Photo: Dodgshun Medlin.

A four-year project evaluating and demonstrating crop rotations and associated chemical options for controlling wild radish and annual grasses is now halfway, and the results are interesting. 6

Pre-emergent herbicide treatments were applied immediately prior to sowing on 15 May in both 2014 and 2015. Postemergent herbicides were applied at registered rates on 2 July 2014, and 8 August 2015. Mallee Mix 3 (15% N, 10% P) was applied @ 100 kg/ha at seeding in both seasons. Urea @50 kg/ ha (46% N) was applied on 14 August 2015 to treatments that did not follow a legume.


Taking a  more  long-­‐term  perspective,  the  study  is  also  measuring  annual  ryegrass  and  brome  Thegrass  persistence   through  13  individual  rotations,  with  alternative  weed  control  chemistry  and  management  strategies  applied.  After   Year  2  of  the  study  there  were  four  similar  groups,  as  represented  in  Table  1.      

Mallee Farmer

Table 1.  2014  and  2015  field  crop  rotations  and  annual  grass  control,  pre-­‐  and  post-­‐emergent  herbicide  groups   applied     2014  

Herbicide groups  applied  

2015

Herbicide groups  applied    

Pre-­‐emergent

Post-­‐emergent

Pre-­‐emergent

Post-­‐emergent

Wheat

D

Wheat

D

Wheat

D J  

Field Pea  

D

A (F&D)*  

Field Pea  

D

A (F&D)*  

Canola Imi  

D J  

A (F&D)*  

Field Pea  

D

A (F&D)*  

Wheat

D

*A (F&D)  Includes  both  a  fop  and  dim  Group  A  herbicide     2 Table  2.  Crop  rotations  in  2014  and  2015,  annual  grass  plant  and  panicle  densities  (/m Pre-­‐emergent   herbicide  treatments  were  applied  immediately  prior  to  sowing  on  15  May  )  at  three  times  of   in  both  2014  and  2015.   assessment  in  2015,  and  grain  yields   Post-­‐emergent  herbicides  were  applied  at  registered  rates  on  2  July  2014,  and  8  August  2015.  Mallee  Mix  3  (15%  N,   2 2 applied  on  14  August   10%  P)  was   applied     @  100  kg/ha  at  seeding  in  b  Poth   seasons.   (46%  N)  was   Rotation   lants/m   Urea  @50  kg/ha  Panicles/m   Tonnes/ha   2015  to  treatments  that  did  not  follow  a  legume.   2014   2015   15  May   15  July   8  October   Grain  yield   Results   Wheat   15   7   had  3-­‐4  p9*   (11)**   11*  g(3)**   1   Group  J  pre-­‐ 2 In  2Wheat   014  wheat  without   Group  J  pre-­‐emergent   applied   lants/m  of  annual   rass,  wheat  with  

2 Wheat had  1-­‐2   Field   Pea   2.  All  treatments,   6   0   0.2   emergent   plants/m with  G7  roup  A  post-­‐emergent,   had  less  0  than  1  plants/m  of  annual  grass.   However   the  grass   populations   did  28   not  affect  grain  1   yields:  1.8-­‐2t/ha   Field  Pea   Canola   Imi   0  of  wheat  was  h0  arvested  regardless   0.2   of  chemical   applied.   Field  Pea   Wheat   16   3   6*  (4)**   4*(2)**   1.6   Mid-­‐May  to  October  rainfall  in  2015  was  100mm.     *Annual  ryegrass  **  Brome  grass  

More than 95% of grasses present on management, with wheat following field Results The  grass  densities  prior  to  sowing  in  May  were  not  related  to  the  level  of  2014  control,  suggesting  a  component  of  

15 July were annual ryegrass. Brome peas yielding 50% more than wheat In 2014 wheat without Group J pre15 July and was following wheat. 3 and 4 will indicate than pre-­‐2014  residual  seed.  The  Group  Dgrass  and  emerged Group  J  after pre-­‐emergent   mixture  did   not  result   in  Years lower   plant   densities   emergent applied had 3-4 plants/m2 present at the final 8 October count on the relative success of each of the 13 Group   D  wheat at  the   15  Group July  cJount.  The   post-­‐emergent  herbicides  applied  to  specific the  broadleaf   crops  on  8  August   ofthe   annual grass, with treatments that did not receive an August rotations in longer term residual pre-emergent had 1-2 plants/m2. All Group A herbicide application. The dry seed bank depletion. controlled  all  grasses.     treatments, with Group A post-emergent, conditions were reflected with one or less had less tthan of annual More   han  19plants/m2 5%  of  grasses   present  on   15  July   ere  plant. annual  ryegrass.  Brome  grass  emerged  after  15  July  and  was   panicle on w each grass. However the grass populations did present   at  tyields: he  final   8  October   count  on  treatments  that  did  not  receive  an  August  Group  A  herbicide  application.  The not affect grain 1.8-2t/ha of wheat Discussion Acknowledgements was harvested regardless of chemical dry  conditions  were  reflected  with  one   or  less   panicle   on  each   plant.       To date, there is no evidence of annual This project is supported by the applied. ryegrass or brome grass populations Mallee Catchment Management Discussion   Mid-May to October rainfall in 2015 was resistant to Group A (mixture of fops and Authority, through funding from the 100mm. dims) as no plants Government’s National To  date,  there  is  no  evidence  of  annual   ryegrass   or  bsurvived rome  gselective rass  populations  rAustralian esistant  to   Group  A  (mixture   of  fops   grass control in 2015. Resistance to Landcare Programme. The project The grass densities prior to sowing in and  dims)  as  no  plants  survived  selective   ontrol   n  the 2015.   Resistance   to  isGroup    and  Group    in  the  annual  rye   GroupgBrass   and cGroup M iin annual rye beingBundertaken byMDodgshun May were not related to the level of grass populations will be assessed over grass   populations   be  assessed  over  the  four  years  of  the  study.  Although  Medlin. there  was  no  identified  resistance  to   2014 control, suggestingwaill   component the four years of the study. Although there ofGroup   pre-2014 residual seed. The Group D D,  annual  ryegrass  panicle  numbers   in  the  trifluralin-­‐based   wheat  rotation  increased  in  2015.     was no identified resistance to Groupcontinuous   D, For more information and Group J pre-emergent mixture did annual ryegrass panicle numbers in the not result in lower plant densities than Roy Latta 0475 The  project  is  promoting  good  rotations   and  associated   chemical   weed  management,  w ith  w813040 heat  following  field  peas trifluralin-based continuous wheat rotation the Group D at the 15 July count. The rlatta@dodgshunmedlin.com.au increased in 2015. yielding  50%   more  than   wheat   relative  success  of  each  of  the  13   post-emergent herbicides applied to thefollowing  wheat.  Years  3  and  4  will  indicate  the   www.dodgshunmedlin.com.au broadleaf crops on 8 August controlled all The project promoting good rotations specific  rotations  in  longer  term  residual   seed  isbank   depletion.   grasses. and associated chemical weed

Acknowledgements

This project  is  supported  by  the  Mallee  Catchment  Management  Authority,  through  funding  from  the  Australian   Government’s  National  Landcare  Programme.  The  project  is  being  undertaken  by  Dodgshun  Medlin.     Further  information  and  contact  details:   Roy  Latta  0475  813040   7 rlatta@dodgshunmedlin.com.au    


The

Mallee Farmer

National Landcare Programme: 2016 incentives Incentives for on-farm environmental works to create more sustainable farming systems are delivering shared benefits across the Mallee. By Jacinta Gange for Mallee CMA Incentives available through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme are helping landholders undertake work such as dryland salinity control, dune reclamation and building stock containment areas. The incentives are made available through the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), and Acting Regional Landcare Facilitator Marissa Shean says farmers across the region have taken up the opportunity to apply for the incentives. “The program is about building partnerships with farmers, and getting positive outcomes on-farm and for the broader Mallee environment,” Mrs Shean said. “It’s farmers themselves who are really conscious of the health of their properties and they are aware of the best way to invest in order to tackle environmental issues. “These projects provide the practical and financial support to help farmers actually get started on their ideas. “We know from the past programs that getting the work done and seeing the benefits for the landscape gives farmers real satisfaction.” On-ground works that improve soil health by reducing erosion and salinity are eligible for incentives, and are available to landholders who own or occupy private land in the dryland Mallee CMA region. “The application process is quite straightforward, with the completion of an expression of interest form,” Mrs Shean said.

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Constructed 2016

“But our Landcare project officers are also available to provide advice, if it’s required, on the eligibility of applications and the application process.” The incentives are awarded based on the merit of the project and the availability of funds.

dunes). Incentives provide up to 60 percent of the cost of primary levelling for eroding sandhills, using bulldozers or a grader board, up to $5000. Incentives are also available for exclusion of stock.

Eligible on-farm projects include: • Dryland salinity control works (to protect and manage secondary or induced saline discharge areas with saltbush). Incentive funding is available for fencing, trees and shrubs, tree guards and saltbush plantings, with the landholder responsible for constructing fencing and undertaking planting. • Stock containment or exclusion areas (Incentives include up to $2000 per stock containment area to assist with fencing and water reticulation). Where revegetation is being carried out, additional incentives are available. • Dune reclamation (funding to reclaim bare and eroded sand

Further Information Further details on the incentives are available at malleecma.vic.gov.au, or contact Marissa Shean on 03 5051 4354 for information on future funding rounds. The Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture Incentive Program is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.


The

Mallee Farmer

Mallee farms winning through on-ground incentives

Stock containment area at Beulah

Stock containment area at Beulah

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The

Mallee Farmer

National Landcare Programme: seeing the funding hit the ground Preserving two stands of pine trees on their Ouyen district mixed farming property has been a satisfying undertaking for Linton Hahnel and his brother Don. Snapshot Name: Hahnel brothers Property: 5000 hectares south west of Ouyen Farm system: Continuous cropping of cereals and legumes, with opportunistic grazing of lambs post-harvest NLP Incentive activity

installed stock-proof, seven-line ring lock fence to exclude the stock and we are following up with some rabbit control as well. “The one-hectare site was fenced off many years ago so the regeneration was good, but the fence had become pretty tatty. The pines in there had survived and are already looking fantastic with the good rain we’ve had – with the protection they’ve got now they should bounce back really well.

Linton Hahnel: “We had a couple of light hills with remnant pine trees left on our farm and they were always a bit special, just because there’s not that many stands of pines left around.

The semi-arrid woodland protected by stock exclusion fencing

“There are two sites and we were funded to do work on both. One is two hectares and another one hectare. “The CMA program provided the funds to buy the fencing materials and we provided the work to put it up. We’ve

10

“But there’s an area where nothing is growing and we have 1000 tube stock trees and shrubs from the Mallee CMA to go in there, so again, hopefully we get a wet year to get them up and going. “It’s nice to have some habitat for birds, especially the Major Mitchells, who seem to like them a lot.

“So it’s a nice feeling when you see the pines now and you know they will be right.”

“Our farm is continuous cropped and in recent years we have gone away from ewes and lambs and we just buy lambs in after harvest.

“The stock exclusion fencing was a plan that was in the back of our minds for a long time, probably because we did want to preserve those trees and the incentive from the CMA just pushed us along.

“That site’s being revegetated as well. It has pines on the light, sandy hill and running down to some heavier ground there are bulokes.

“The old pine trees are becoming rarer - the single ones we used to have in the middle of paddocks all across the Mallee have nearly all died out now.

“Someone suggested that if we excluded stock from them, it would allow some regrowth, so six months ago, that’s what we decided to do.

“So while we don’t have stock here all the time, there’s still the potential for them to stop the regeneration of the pine trees unless the trees are protected.

“The second site hasn’t regenerated yet, but a la Nina year is forecast and it always brings on the regeneration of pine trees. During the last event, in 2010, we got some good regeneration happening.

Remnant contains old growth pine that Hahnel wants to preserve

Find out more Further details on the incentives available, visit malleecma.vic.gov.au or contact Gareth Lynch on 03 5051 4377 The Bio incentive program is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.


The

Mallee Farmer

National Landcare Programme: Reclaiming the dunes Robert Matthews was constantly frustrated by several sand dune areas on his farm, but these are now levelled and stablilised thanks to assistance from the National Landcare Programme. Snapshot Name: Robert Matthews Property: 2250 hectares south of Yarrara (Millewa District) Farm system: Wheat, vetch and prime lambs (450 ewes, 600 lambs) NLP Incentive activity: Dune reclamation Robert Matthews: “Previous farm practices were harsh on our light soils – in the right conditions the wind would get into an area and could very quickly make it unusable. “One day it can be a sheep track, then if the wind is in the right direction there can be a hole up to three feet deep! “In the real problem areas on my farm, the history goes back to the settlement of the area. So there’s a light hill, which they fenced along the south side in the old days and a channel running along the north side. “Back in the 40s they worked it up, the droughts came and it just blew. As a kid I remember that area being just drifting red sand – it looked like the Perry Sandhills. “Our change in farming methods over the past 20 years has reduced that erosion problem enormously across the whole farm. “We have progressively worked on the paddock with bigger machinery, but strangely enough sometimes direct drill farming methods don’t actually help on some of those problematic light hills. That’s just something you need to be aware of in your whole farm program. “So what I was left with were a few deep holes in the paddock, some of them up to six-foot-deep, with accumulations of drift sand out of the hole which makes a soft edge, meaning the wind can damage it more and presented angles I just couldn’t work with.

“The last ten acres or so was the real problem and that’s where I needed a bulldozer. When you are trying to move five feet of dirt a bulldozer is really the key because it can move such a large amount of soil quickly and easily. “I was involved in the Environmental Management Action Planning program several years ago, which was a process of coordinating what environmental work farmers needed done, and what money and assistance was available. The National Landcare Programme (NLP) incentive program was perfect because it could cover more than half the cost of hiring a bulldozer. “I did a survey of the site with the Mallee CMA Project Officer and identified what sites to work on and which would be eligible under the program.

“For now I’ll just leave the site alone for a couple of years to let it stabilise and I’m fairly confident it will be a long-term fix for these problem areas. “It’s win-win – the paddock is bigger because the areas will be productive in the future, and it’s better-looking real estate because blown-out hills are just not a good look. “Anyone with similar problems I’d advise them to have a chat with the CMA regarding what incentives might be available. “It used to be a complicated and a longwinded process but I think the CMA has really improved that side of it and it’s now really effective and helpful in getting these programs out on the ground.”

“The application process itself was quite easy and the inspection process was straightforward. We got the go-ahead late last year, and in February we started work. “I hired a bulldozer and operator and that really did the heavy-lifting. It did the work in 30 hours but if we’d tried to do it with the grader board it would have been more like 200 hours, which is just not really practical. “After the bulldozer had finished I hired a grader board from the Landcare Group in April to finish off the work. It’s 30 feet wide and can move sand quite easily and shapes the site so the wind can’t erode it. “So by May we had all the areas sown with barley and vetch. A bit of luck never goes astray and the conditions have been good. The crop is up and the sites have covered up nicely. “There’s 30 or 40 acres where there’s now a cover crop and protection from the wind where there hasn’t been for years. “I’ll have some more work to do in future to basically smooth the rough areas off, so anything we didn’t get quite right this time we will get back onto, but at an appropriate time in the rotation in a suitable season.

Robert Matthews

Find out more Further details on the incentives available under the Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture Incentive Program, visit malleecma.vic.gov.au or contact Marissa Shean on 03 5051 4354. The Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture Incentive Program is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

11


The

Mallee Farmer

Nitrogen fixation by grain legume crops in the Mallee Trials conducted in the Mallee region over the past three seasons are providing vital data on nitrogen fixation by a range of grain legume crops. By Michael Moodie, Agronomist Grain legumes are increasingly being incorporated into Mallee rotations with one of their major benefits being their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen (N). The quantity of N fixed is commonly reported as 20 – 25 kg N per tonne of above ground legume dry matter; however, very little data has been published from the low rainfall zone in southern Australia. To establish local estimates of N fixation by grain legume crops, Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) and CSIRO measured N fixation by chickpea, field pea, lentil, lupin, faba bean and vetch crops in trials conducted at Mildura (Victoria) in 2013 and 2014 and Loxton (South Australia) in 2015.

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Method Replicated small plot trials comparing a range of legume grain crop species

Nitrogen nodulation on bare roots

were conducted at sites near Mildura (Victoria) in 2013 and 2014 and near Loxton (South Australia) in 2015. Each of these trials were conducted on a Calcarosol with a sandy loam - loam textured soil and were sown into a moist seedbed in the first week of May in each season. Growing season rainfall varied between 130 and 145 mm in each season which is less than the long term GSR of approximately 175 mm, although significant sub soil moisture was present prior to sowing at Mildura in 2014 and Loxton in 2015. Peak shoot dry matter (DM) was sampled from selected treatments in each trial to represent a wide range of grain legume crop types. These samples were then used to determine N fixed in the above ground shoot dry matter using the 15N natural abundance technique.


The

Mallee Farmer Table 2. Estimates of the amounts of shoot N fixed by crop legume grown at Mildura (Victoria) in 2013 and 2014 and Loxton (South Australia) in 2015. 120

N Fixed  (kg/ha)  

Over the three seasons, chickpeas fixed the lowest levels of N per tonne of shoot dry matter (<11 kg N/t DM). This was much lower than other legume crop species which averaged 18 kg N/t of legume biomass across the three seasons. However, vetch, faba bean and lupin tended to fix slightly more N per tonne of legume biomass than lentils and field pea.

100 80   60   40  

20 While N fixed in the above ground shoot 0   dry matter is commonly reported, a Chickpea   Field  Pea   Lupin   Faba  Bean   Vetch   significant portion of the crops fixed N Shoots   Roots   is in the roots of the crop. Chickpeas fix the highest proportion of N below Figure 1. The average total nitrogen fixed (kg/ha) by a range of grain legumes over three seasons, partitioned ground with equal quantities of N fixedbetween roots and shoots. N fixed in shoots was measured at the sites and N fixed in roots was estimated from published root factors. in their roots and shoots. All other Acknowledgements Nitrogen  fixation  by  grain  legume  crops  in  the  Mallee   species with the exception of lupins have Thank you to Mark Peoples and Laura Goward of CSIRO Canberra who completed the N fixation analysis. Results/findings The trials were completed with funding from the GRDC, SAGIT and SARDI. Acknowledgements approximately 30% of their total fixed N Find out more The productivity of each grain legume in their the proportion Trials conducted in the Mallee region over the past three seasons are roots. providingFor vital lupins data on nitrogen fixation Forin further information Thank contact you to Mark Peoples Michael Moodie crop the three by a across range of grain legume sites crops. and seasons roots is only 25% of the total in the plant. Email: michael@msfp.org.au and Laura Goward of CSIRO is shown in Table 1. Average peak shoot Figure 1 provides estimates of averagePhone: 0448612892 By Michael Moodie, Agronomist who completed the N Further information on Canberra each individual trial can be accessed at: dry matter across all treatments and total amount of N fixed (both above and http://www.msfp.org.au/publications/research-articles seasons was agenerally between 3 – 4 t/ into  Mbelow fixation analysis. Grain  legumes   re  increasingly   being  incorporated   allee  rotations   w ith   o ne   o f   t heir   m ajor   b enefits   ground) for all the crops except for Logos (should be on file) habeing   per thectare pea producing heir  ability  with to  fix  field atmospheric   nitrogen  (N).    The  qlentils uantity  oacross f  N  fixed  the is  commonly   reported  as  Total 20  –  MSF The trials were completed with three seasons. CSIRO the biomass in gall seasons. 25  greatest kg  N  per  tonne   of  above   round   legume  dry  matter;  hN owever,   v ery   l ittle   d ata   h as   b een   p ublished   fixed by faba beans, field pea and SARDI funding from the GRDC, SAGIT Average yieldzone   for in   allsouthern   the legume from  the  grain low  rainfall   Australia.    To  establish   local   estimates   of  N  fixation   y  grain   vetch was on average 15 –b20 kg N/haGRDC SAGIT and SARDI. species 1Ft/ha across legume  cwas rops,  approximately Mallee  Sustainable   arming   (MSF)  and  CSIRO   measured    fixation  than by  chickpea,   field  N pea,   greater per Nseason the total fixed bean  and  vetch  crops  in  trials  conducted   Mildura  and (Victoria)   in  2013  and   2014  avalues nd   alllentil,   siteslupin,   andfaba   seasons. byat  lupins chickpeas. These Find out more Loxton  (South  Australia)  in  2015.       are total N fixed by each crop and do not The total amount of fixed N present in For further information contact account for N removed in end products. shoot dry matter (shoot N fixed) for each Method Therefore the end use (e.g. grain, hay, Michael Moodie crop in each season is shown in Table 2. Replicated  small  plot  trials  comparing  a  range  of  legume  grazing grain  crop  or species   were  conducted   at  sites  near   manuring) for a particular crop Email: michael@msfp.org.au Legume biomass production was poorest Mildura  (Victoria)  in  2013  and  2014  and  near  Loxton  (South   ustralia)   n  2015.    Each  of  ton hese   trials   were   willAhave a ilarge bearing the final inconducted   2013 and as a consequence the Phone: 0448612892 on  a  Calcarosol  with  a  sandy  loam  -­‐  loam  textured   were   sown  into   a  moist   seedbed   to levelsoil   of aNnd  the legume crops contribute lowest ofofixed observed in in  the  flevels irst  week   f  May  iwas n  each   season.    Growing   season  rainfall  varied  between  130  and  145  mm  in   Mallee paddocks. this season (11 – 50 kg N/ha). However,

each season  which  is  less  than  the  long  term  GSR  of  approximately  175  mm,  although  significant  sub  soil  

inmoisture 2014, biomass production by aall was  present   prior  to  sowing   t  Mildura  in  2014  and  Loxton  in  2015.    Peak  shoot  dry  matter   legume crops was considerably higherin  each  trial  to  represent  a  wide  range  of  grain  legume  crop   (DM)  was   sampled   from   selected  treatments   and as  a result highwlevels ofused   N were types.   These   samples   ere  then   to  determine  N  fixed  in  the  above  ground  shoot  dry  matter  using   fixed season (88 t– 133 kg N/ha). the  15in N  this natural   abundance   echnique.   In 2015, grain legume crops fixed 25 – Results/findings   56 kg N in the above ground legume The  productivity  of  each  grain  legume  crop  across  the  three  sites  and  seasons  is  shown  in  Table  1.     shoot dry matter.

Further information on each individual trial can be accessed at: http://www.msfp.org.au/ publications/research-articles

Average peak  shoot  dry  matter  across  all  treatments  and  seasons  was  generally  between  3  –  4  t/ha  per   hectare  with  field  pea  producing  the  greatest  biomass  in  all  seasons.    Average  grain  yield  for  all  the   legume  species  was  approximately  1  t/ha  across  all  sites  and  seasons.  

Table 1. Productivity dryin matter and grain yield) of grain legume grown The  total   amount  of  fixed  (shoot N  present   shoot  dry   matter   (shoot   N  fixed)   for  each   crop  in  ecrops ach  season   is   at Table  1.    Productivity  (shoot  dry  matter  and  grain  yield)  of  grain  legume  crops  grown  at  Mildura   Mildura (Victoria) in 2013 and 2014 and Loxton (South Australian) in 2015. shown  in  Table  2.  Legume  biomass  production  was  poorest  in  2013  and  as  a  consequence  the  lowest   (Victoria)  in  2013  and  2014  and  Loxton  (South  Australian)  in  2015.   levels  of  fixed  was  observed  in  this  season  (11  –  50  kg  N/ha).  However,  in  2014,  biomass  production  by   Crop   Shoot  DM  (t/ha)   all  legume  crops   was  considerably  higher   and  as  a  result  high  levels  of  Grain  Yield  (t/ha)   N  were  fixed  in  this  season  (88  –     2013   2014   2013   2015   133  kg  N/ha).    In  2015,  grain  legume  crops  fixed   25  –  56  2015   kg  N  in  the   above  g2014   round  legume   shoot  dry   Chickpea   1.1   4.2   2.7   0.9   1.6   0.6   matter.       Field  Pea   2.5   5.8   3.6   1.1   2.3   0.6   Over  the  three  Lentil   seasons,  chickpeas  fixed   of  N  per  tonne   of  s1.5   hoot  dry  m atter  (<11  kg  N/t   -­‐   the  lowest   4.9   levels  3.3   -­‐   1.0   DM).    This  was  Lupin   much  lower  than  other   rop  species   averaged  1.2   18  kg  N/t  0.7   of  legume  biomass   2.6  legume  c4.1   2.6  which  1.0   across  the  three   seasons.   vetch,  faba   bean  and   lupin  tended   slightly  m ore  N  per  tonne   Faba   Bean    However,  2.0   4.8   3.0   0.5   to  fix   1.4   0.8   of  legume  biomass   ield  pea.   4.5  a   Vetch  than  lentils  and  f0.8   3.4   0.4   -­‐   0.8   LSD  (P<0.05)   0.7   1.1   0.6   0.2   0.5   0.1   Table  2.      Estimates  of  the  amounts  of  shoot  N  fixed  by  crop  legume  grown  at  Mildura  (Victoria)  in   a Data  not  included  in  statistical  analysis  as  samples  were  collected  from  an  adjacent  trial  site.     2013  and  2014  and  Loxton  (South  Australia)  in  2015.   Crop     Chickpea   Field  Pea   Lentil   Lupin   Faba  Bean   Vetch   LSD  (P<0.05)   a

Shoot N  fixed  (kg  N/ha)   2013   2014   2015   11   88   25   39   132   47   -­‐   107   50   50   101   46   40   133   48   a 18   123   56   13   23   9  

Shoot N  fixed  (kg  N/t  DM)   2013   2014   2015   9.2   10.9   9.2   15.2   18.6   13.1   -­‐   18.2   15.3   19.0   19.8   17.7   19.6   21.6   16.0   a 21.8   20   16.4   2.9   1.8   1.7  

Data not  included  in  statistical  analysis  as  samples  were  collected  from  an  adjacent  trial  site

While N  fixed  in  the  above  ground  shoot  dry  matter  is  commonly  reported,  a  significant  portion  of  the   crops  fixed  N  is  in  the  roots  of  the  crop.    Chickpeas  fix  the  highest  proportion  of  N  below  ground  with   equal  quantities  of  N  fixed  in  their  roots  and  shoots.    All  other  species  with  the  exception  of  lupins  have   approximately  30%  of  their  total  fixed  N  in  their  roots.    For  lupins  the  proportion  in  roots  is  only  25%  of  

13


The

Mallee Farmer

Inspecting a Control Traffic Farming paddock. Photo: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Insights into Control Traffic Farming The Innovations in Cropping systems project has concluded its two seasons of data collection on Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) and Subsoil Manuring (SSM) demonstrations across Western Victoria. This article provides an update on some of the data from the CTF sites at Nowie, Rosebery and Mittyack.

By Darryl Pearl Land Management Extension Officer Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), Swan Hill Key messages • Rainfall at all sites in 2014 and 2015 was below the mean for the sites • In 93 % of cases, non-trafficked CTF areas had greater biomass than trafficked CTF areas. • In 100% of cases, non-trafficked CTF areas had greater yields than trafficked CTF areas. (Trafficked CTF areas are the permanent wheel track zone for at least one piece of machinery. Non-trafficked CTF areas are the areas which have not had any traffic on them) • In 73 % of cases, including farmer yield history, when the paired

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Table 1.  Spring  and  Harvest  Bio  Mass  t/ha  for  CTF,  CTF  Wheeled  areas  and  Non  CTF  paired  paddocks   Location  and   Crop   2014  Harvest   Crop   2015  Spring   2015  Harvest   treatment   type   Biomass  t/ha   type   Biomass  t/ha   Biomass  t/ha   Nowie  CTF   Wheat   4.84   Wheat   0.55   2.69   Nowie  CTF  Wheel     Wheat   4.22   Wheat   0.29   1.85   Nowie  Non  CTF     Wheat   2.35   Barley   0.65   2.75   Mittyack  CTF   Barley   5.92   Field   1.88   2.69   Peas   Mittyack  CTF  Wheel     Barley   6.38   Field   1.02   1.12   Peas   Mittyack  Non  CTF     Wheat   4.59   Vetch   2.29   0.99   Rosebery  CTF   Wheat   4.58   Wheat     3.58   Rosebery  CTF  Wheel     Wheat   2.84   Wheat     2.38   Rosebery    Non  CTF     Vetch   1.11   Wheat     3.11  

 

paddocks were growing the same

Control Traffic Farming (CTF) is perceived

Table 2.  Grain  yields  in  t/ha  for  CTF,  CTF  Wheeled  areas  and  Non  CTF  paired  paddocks   type of crop in the same year, the to improve cropping systems through Location  and  treatment   Crop  type   2014  yield    (t/ha)   Crop  type   2015  Yield   CTF paddock out yielded the non improved production and more efficient (t/ha)   CTF paddock. running of machinery through energy Nowie  CTF   Wheat   1.82   Wheat   0.93   savings and access to paddocks. • While density figures Nowie   CTF  Wbulk heeled   Wheat   1.69   Wheat   0.71   showed This Nowie   Non  CTF  no   significant differences, Wheat   0.89  project explored Barley  both plant and 0.78   except under CTF wheel tracks, soil physical property performance for Mittyack  CTF   Barley   1.64   Field  Peas   0.81   penetrometer readings indicated improved productivity. Mittyack  CTF  Wheeled   Barley   1.60   Field  Peas     0.32   that roots were less restricted in Mittyack  Non  CTF     Wheat   1.63  three-paired Vetch   0.19   in The paddocks presented the soils in the CTF paddocks, Rosebery  CTF   Wheat   1.06  article were adjacent Wheat   to one another. 1.5   this other than on the wheel tracks. Rosebery  CTF  Wheeled     Wheat   1.01   Wheat   0.99   The CTF crop had greater biomass at Rosebery  Non  CTF     Vetch   N/A   and harvest Wheat   0.49   in spring which also resulted   increased yields. In all cases, comparing Table  3:  Bulk  density  samples  for  Nowie,  Mittyack,  acrop nd  Roseberry   to  a  depth   f  50cm   performances onowheeled (compacted 20-­‐30  cm   area) and un-wheeled Location  and  treatment   0-­‐10  cm   10-­‐20  cm   30-­‐40cm  areas,40-­‐50  cm   the area produced higher Nowie  CTF   1.14   1.52  un-wheeled1.43   1.34   1.29   biomass except for Mittyack’sN/T   spring of Nowie  CTF  Wheeled   1.34   1.51   1.54   N/T   2014, seen in Table1.44   1. Nowie  Non  CTF     1.25   1.63   as can be 1.51   N/T   Mittyack  CTF   1.17   1.44   1.43   1.37   1.27   Continued onto page 19 Mittyack  CTF  Wheeled   1.24   1.49   1.37   1.38   1.35   Mittyack  Non  CTF     1.28   1.70   1.62   1.53   1.43   Rosebery  CTF   1.07   1.46   1.43   1.49   1.52  


LANDCARE LINKS Winter - Spring 2016

PO Box 5017, Mildura Vic 3502 | Telephone 03 5051 4377 | www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Happy Birthday Landcare! By Kevin Chaplin, Regional Landcare Coordinator Welcome to the spring edition of Landcare Links and the Victorian celebration of 30 years of Landcare. Australia’s first Landcare group formed 25th Nov, 1986 in Winjallok (near St Arnaud) when farming neighbours recognised that they could be more effective and have a greater impact if they addressed common natural resource managements (NRM) concerns together. Since its inception, the Landcare movement has grown to become part of the social, environmental and economic fabric of Victoria, and indeed Australia, achieving success in nurturing a more sustainable land management ethos and practice. Today, in Victoria, there are more than 911 Landcare and communitybased NRM groups and networks, consisting of more than 60,000 members and an additional 45,000 volunteers who contribute their time, resources and energy each year to undertake local action to care for the land. The precursor to Landcare in the Mallee started in 1985 with the formation of a number of ‘action groups’ in the central and southern regions. These groups tended to have a single focus, usually on either soil erosion and revegetation activities or pest plant and animal control. The Mallee’s first official Landcare group, Millewa–Carwarp, was established in 1989, three years after Australia’s first Landcare group was launched. Other Landcare groups soon followed right across the Mallee region. The Mallee now has 26 Landcare groups, the newest was formed in early 2016. These groups work across a diverse landscape and membership ranges in

age from school children through to an active older generation well into their 80s. Landcare has grown to cover around 90% (2.3 million ha) of total agricultural land in the Mallee and group membership levels range from 40% to 80% of landholders in any given area. With a combined, active membership of more than 700 members, these groups are strengthened by a membership with a wide diversity of backgrounds and skillsets that, when combined, contribute to the many tasks and activities the groups undertake. To help celebrate this significant achievement this issue of Landcare Links reflects on the history of some of these Landcare groups starting with our very first Landcare group, Millewa-Carwarp. With a strong focus on soil erosion and the associated loss of native vegetation this group paved the way for addressing these significant environmental issues through a ‘whole of landscape’ approach. By successfully encouraging and supporting neighbours to work with neighbours significant environmental outcomes where achieved with substantial areas of degraded land being either revegetated and preserved or, in the case of degraded agricultural land, being brought back into viable production. Other groups soon followed this lead and helped promote the ‘charge for change’. Groups like the Murrayville Landcare group were instrumental in helping to promote the adoption of ‘No-Till’ in the Mallee. They did so by providing a series of information sessions and field days where up to 150 farmers from across the Mallee and from other farming regions came to hear leading experts in the field. These experts were invited to present the latest research and developments in everything from soil structure and biology through to equipment design and function. Farmers were also encouraged and enlisted to display what

they were doing on their farm and talk about what worked well and what didn’t. Other groups continue to be a strong and effective voice for the local flora and fauna in their community when it comes to local concerns and priorities. Groups such as the Birchip Landcare Group have a strong affiliation with the locally threatened species and are actively pursuing projects and programs that will help preserve these important assets through community awareness and education. On-ground projects such as their local wetland project are proving to be a great success where old farm dams, that were once part of the Wimmera-Mallee open channel system for stock and domestic use, have now been turned into island refuge areas for native flora and fauna and are periodically filled using environmental water allocations. These are just a few examples of what Landcare has managed to achieve over the last 30 years. Landcare has changed people as well as landscapes. It has encouraged farmers, known for their strong sense of individualism, to form groups and work together for the greater good, as well as their own benefit. I congratulate all those who have contributed to this fantastic movement over the years and I commend them on their wonderful efforts. They have laid a strong foundation for those who are to about to pick up the baton and lead the way forward into the next decade and beyond. Happy birthday Landcare, may your future be bright, fruitful and healthy for it is only through having a healthy environment that we will continue to have healthy communities and a wonderful place to live. Congratulations on your success, and thank you for making a difference.

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Looking back on Landcare in the Mallee by Jacinta Gange, for the Mallee CMA

As part of celebrating 30 years of Landcare in Victoria, we asked some long-serving Landcare members and contributors for their thoughts of the success of the Landcare movement. Ron Hards – Millewa Carwarp The overall objective of Landcare was to get farmers to cooperate and to work on a group scale and achieve bigger things. I think it’s done that. It meant we could access Government funds on the way through and the work we’ve done in sandhill reclamation, rabbit and weed control and tree plantings have really transformed the region. The way the original channel system was set out in the Millewa meant there were a lot of sandy ridges that were basically wasteland. Nowadays our sand rises are probably the most productive land in the Millewa. The farmer involvement encouraged government to become involved and in its own way that helped scientific innovation and farmer innovation. We also had support from our corporate citizens, for example Tasco, which supplied fuel to farmers to rehabilitate sandhills. Colin Hunt - Millewa Carwarp At the time Landcare formed, we were under pressure from the Government to take it on and offered incentives to do that. They were telling us it was the way of the future and I suppose it was. It took a few years to get going, but we had pretty good results early on with things like dune reclamation. Some of the things we used to lose sleep over, like rabbits and weeds, we’ve got a pretty good handle on now. Things like sandhill reclamation work weren’t getting done because, as farmers, we didn’t have the equipment we needed to do it. Landcare allowed us to set up shared resources, such as a grader board for dune reclamation and a Chatfield tree planter that’s planted many thousands of trees right across the Mallee. Kevin Willersdorf – Murrayville Landcare started in Murrayville when the local Lands Department office closed. It had six fulltime employees and we formed

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the VFF Landcare group as a means of getting a facilitator and getting pest management work done. It’s work really well. Now when you see four or five rabbits in an area, you think there’s a plague – when I left school, it wasn’t unusual to see 150 in an area. I’ve got more out of Landcare than most other committees I have been on. I think our biggest impact was in running some information days

continual learning for all the farmers, neighbors talking to neighbors, everybody working together towards a common goal. Hopefully, overall, we’ve become more efficient and productive and the financial situation has improved. To look at the Mallee landscape now it still gives me a buzz to think that our committee in some small way can take a little bit of credit.

A successfu partnership: The Millewa Carwarp Landcare Group and ANZ FRRR

in the late 1990s and early 2000s on no-till cropping systems. We brought speakers from WA and SA and we had three 50-seater buses going around to different people’s farms to see what they were doing and what machinery they were using. It opened people’s eyes and it changed farming practices in this district forever. Glennis McKee– Murrayville Our biggest impact came from a trip our group did to Western Australia in the late 1990s to look at no-till farming systems. There was big money and big equipment and while there was some skepticism about whether it would work in the Mallee, we had a proactive committee that took the ideas on board and came back feeling we had to change. It was a whirlwind few years. We had field days with up to 200 people and the ideas infiltrated into other parts of the Mallee. It was

John Cooke – Mallee Farming leaders and those responsible for Landcare in the Mallee took time to bed down the major land protection feature that would be the focus for Landcare in the Mallee. The emphasis turned out to be reclamation of previously-degraded Mallee sandhills. So while it took a while for the Landcare intent and the farmer intent to come together, when it finally did it worked very well. The time in planning was well spent. You don’t see the eroding Mallee sand dunes now that used to dot the landscape. On those sites now, you see good grain crops. It’s perhaps not as immediately obvious as tree planting but it’s certainly effective over a much a greater area. The Mallee is in good shape and the Landcare movement and the Landcare thinking contributed greatly to that position.


one week and then the pests come back from elsewhere the next. Environmentally, some of the big things we’ve done are the development of a community wetland at Yaapeet. Before we got involved it was just a stagnant wasteland near the railway line, now it captures the town storm water and it’s a drawcard for the community to come together. A little oasis in the town. Heather Drendel - Rainbow Corey Eade planting trees on Rob Hender’s property

Focus on youth students from Werrimull, 2008

Leo Fuller - Yaapeet

Brian Barry Snr- Manangatang

I was a bit sceptical at first and I always had the feeling Landcare might cut across things that were already being done. But it’s been a great innovation. In the Mallee, Landcare was initially about stopping erosion but came to involve all aspects of land management. We worked with blade ploughs as the first part of a process to retain vegetation and protect topsoil. But as we have gone on, direct drilling has superseded that, and plant breeding has overcome some of the diseases that were a problem in the past. There’s not a shadow of a doubt that it has changed the Mallee’s landscape. Our farm has been in the family for 110 years. I think my father did better than his father, and I think I did better than my father. But I am absolutely certain my son is doing better than me and I think a lot of families would say the same. I just wish the farming systems now were in place when I was farming. It’s just wonderful.

I believe Landcare’s been a great success. We have come to rely on our rabbit mitigation (ripping) program and rabbits are as few as I have seen in my life. Early on, we had grader board to do dune reclamation and all that work has long since been done. We’ve done plenty of revegetation work and plantings to add to areas of remnant vegetation and now it’s just a picture to sit among it. We’re now getting back to that sort of work, fencing off salty ground, planting trees, putting in wildlife ponds and catchment dams to support revegetated areas. As a group we’ve done some amazing work as unpaid custodians of a lot of public land. We’re very willing, but it’s very important that is never taken for granted by Government.

Lyonel O’Shannassey - Manangatang It was through Landcare that we have pretty much reinvented the wheel for farming in this area. When direct drilling was trialed here, Landcare had the machinery for farmers to use, to try it, without having to make the financial outlay. My dad used to say that direct drilling was the biggest change in farming since the move from horses to mechanisation. Other areas that Landcare has influenced have been in things like revegetation, rabbit control and saltbush plantations. It’s ongoing work that needs to be done but without Landcare it would all fall apart pretty quickly. Saltbush plantations are regenerating a lot of low lying areas with hostile soils. With saltbush established, farmers can see a long term benefit with the saltbush using up excess water and reducing the saline area.

Landcare isn’t just weeds and rabbits. The focus on bridal creeper, foxes and other pests is important, but Landcare’s also a wonderful social asset for all regional communities. In Rainbow and Yaapeet we are a strong group that covers environmental, economic and social activities. It’s a strong community network with a really committed membership that helps out with community activities and has the ability to bring together different interests. At Yaapeet, Landcare brought the community together to make the town wetland project a fantastic community asset. And we’ve been able to do similar things with the Rainbow golf course and a new walking track at the Rainbow Recreation Reserve.

Jon Fuller – Rainbow One of Landcare’s main achievements I think is in integrated pest control, just getting the group of local farmers together to tackle snails or rabbits or whatever the pest is. Taking a district-wide approach to pest control is much more effective, rather than when individuals hit a hot-spot

Phill Watson and Nathan Sydes inspecting a revegetation area on Phill’s property, 2003

Yelta Landcare Group turning the Merbein stormwater drain into a wetland at Merbein Common, 2008

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The 2016 National Landcare Conference by Kevin Chaplin, Regional Landcare Coordinator

We invite you, our Landcarers to further your knowledge and engage with your fellow Landcarers at the 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards taking place at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre on 21-23 September, 2016. The 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards offers three days of knowledge sharing, insightful discussion, as well as informative presentations by pioneers, leaders of NRM bodies, scientists, academics, government, and environmental, climate and biodiversity experts. Based around the theme ‘Collaborative Communities – Landcare in Action’, the diverse conference programme will provide; robust discussion, opportunities to network with peers, and insights from community leaders and innovators on the latest trends and technologies driving the industry. Four streams will be available covering; 1. Climate Impacts and Responses Agriculture has a profound impact on the environment and our land and water assets. This stream will focus on how agricultural production copes with climate change and how farming practices respond to it. 2. Collaboration and Innovation Effective collaboration and communications facilitates a strong, vibrant Landcare community. This stream will focus on mechanisms and structures to support effective communication and consultation; tools to enable effective communication; how to identify your stakeholders and members; and innovative approaches to collaboration.

Project Partners

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3. Community Engagement The grassroots movement that started 30 years ago has delivered innovation and measurable shifts in natural resource management, while also establishing trust, cooperation and ongoing relationships between individuals, communities, organisations and government, with a common shared Landcare vision. This session provides a platform for the various individuals and groups that make up the Landcare community to share their successes, failures, and most importantly what they learned along the way. 4. Landscape Challenges and Responses With the ever changing face of our diverse environmental landscape, it is imperative that as a nation, we adapt so as to ensure that our farming production is efficient, while we continue to protect our natural resources for future generations. This stream will showcase a range of projects with emphasis on peri-urban programs, agricultural productivity, as well as biosecurity, and demonstrate effective ways in which we can respond to the various challenges the Australian landscape presents. Delegates are also invited to experience local natural resource management across Victoria, first-hand – where this year Victorian’s celebrate 30 years of Landcare – through a number of field trips to sites and projects. The field trip program will take place on Wednesday 21 September 2016 with the conference program taking place Thursday 22 and Friday 23 September 2016.

Contacts Kevin Chaplin - Regional Landcare Coordinator. Phone: 03 5051 4670 Mobile 0428 370 175 kein.chaplin@malleecma.com. au Anna Heath - South Western Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0478 170 765, southernmalleelandcarenetwork@gmail.com Beulah Landcare Group, Hopetoun Landcare Group, Rainbow and District Landcare Group, Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group. Sandii Lewis - Eastern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0400 701 730 landcare1619@gmail.com Nyah West Landcare group, Swan Hill West Landcare Group, Manangatang Landcare Group, Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group, Waitchie Landcare Group, Sea Lake Landcare Group, Annuello Landcare Group, Robinvale Indigenous Landcare Group. Eboni Musgrove - Murrayville Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0477 550 161 murrayvillelc@hotmail.com Murrayville Landcare Group. Jess Cook (Interim) - South Eastern Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0458 922 033 southeastmalleelandcare@gmail. com Berriwillock Landcare Group, Birchip Landcare Group, Culgoa Landcare Group, Lalbert Landcare Group, Nullawil Landcare Group Ultima Landcare Group. Annette Lambert - Northern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0487 178 582 millewalc@outlook.com Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group, Yelta Landcare Group, Kulkyne Way Landcare Group, Red Cliffs Landcare Group, Lindsey Point Landcare Group.

Mallee Landcare News Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone: (03) 5051 4377 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502 www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

This publication may be of assistance to you but the Mallee Catchment Management Authority refers readers to our Terms and Conditions, available from our website.


Nowie CTF  Wheel     Nowie  Non  CTF     Mittyack  CTF  Wheel     Mittyack  CTF  

Wheat Wheat   Barley   Barley  

4.22 2.35   6.38   5.92  

Mittyack CN CTF       Mittyack   TF  on   Wheel  

Wheat Barley  

6.38 4.59  

Mittyack Non   CTF     Rosebery   CTF   Wheel     Wheat   Wheat   Rosebery   Wheat   Rosebery  C  TF   Non  CTF     Vetch   Continued from pageWheat   14 Rosebery   CTF  Wheel       Rosebery    Non  CTF     Vetch  

4.59 2.84   4.58  1.11   2.84   1.11  

Rosebery CTF  

Wheat

4.58

Wheat Peas   Barley   Field   Field   Peas   Peas   Field   Vetch   Peas   Wheat   Vetch  Wheat   Wheat  Wheat   Wheat   Wheat  

0.29 0.65   1.88   1.02   2.29        

1.02 2.29        

1.85 2.75   2.69   1.12   0.99   3.58   2.38   3.11  

1.12 0.99   3.58   2.38   3.11  

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Mallee Farmer elongation but that the non-CTF paddocks had higher levels of this resistance, which would have influenced the crop’s ability to access both moisture and nutrients in the soil. The Mallee demonstrations in CTF showed varied but positive results; however, the trials have not necessarily resulted in significant differences because of sub-optimal rainfall and the difficulty in comparing true paired paddocks over two growing seasons with the same crop type each year. The observed changes give us confidence to continue monitoring some sites to further build on already gained knowledge.

Table  2.  Grain  yields  in  t/ha  for  CTF,  CTF  Wheeled  areas  and  Non  CTF  paired  paddocks     Location  and  treatment   Crop  type   2014  yield    (t/ha)   Crop  type   2015  Yield   Table  2.  Grain  yields  in  t/ha  for  CTF,  CTF  Wheeled  areas  and  Non  CTF  paired  paddocks   (t/ha)   Location  and  treatment   Crop  type   2014  yield    (t/ha)   Crop  type   2015  Yield   Nowie  CTF   Wheat   1.82   Wheat   (t/ha)   0.93   Nowie  CCTF   TF  Wheeled   Wheat   0.71   Nowie   Wheat   1.82   1.69   Wheat   Wheat   0.93   Nowie  CN on   TF     Wheat   0.78   Nowie   TF   WC heeled   Wheat   1.69   0.89   Wheat   Barley   0.71   Nowie   Non  CCTF   TF     Wheat   0.89   1.64   Barley  Field  Peas   0.78   Mittyack   Barley   0.81   Mittyack   Barley   1.64   1.60   Field  PField   eas   Peas     0.81   Mittyack  CCTF   TF  Wheeled   Barley   0.32   Mittyack   TF  on   Wheeled   Barley   1.60   1.63   Field  Peas     Vetch   0.32   Mittyack  CN CTF     Wheat   0.19   Mittyack  Non  CTF     Wheat   1.63   Vetch   Rosebery  CTF   Wheat   1.06   Wheat   0.19   1.5   Rosebery  CTF   Wheat   1.06   Wheat   1.5   Rosebery  CTF  Wheeled     Wheat   1.01   Wheat   0.99   Rosebery  CTF  Wheeled     Wheat   1.01   Wheat   0.99   Rosebery  Non  CTF     Vetch   N/A   Wheat   0.49   0.49   Rosebery  Non  CTF     Vetch   N/A   Wheat       Table  3:  Bulk   density   samples   Nowie,   Mittyack,   and  Roseberry   to  ao  f  d5epth   Table  3:  Bulk   density   samples   for  fNor   owie,   Mittyack,   and  Roseberry   to  a  depth   0cm  of  50cm   Location  and  treatment   0-­‐10  cm   0-­‐10  cm   10-­‐20  cm   10-­‐20  cm   20-­‐30  cm   20-­‐30  cm   Location  and  treatment   30-­‐40cm  30-­‐40cm   40-­‐50  cm   40-­‐50  cm   Nowie   1.14  1.14   1.52   1.52   1.43   1.43   1.34   Nowie  CCTF   TF   1.34   1.29   1.29   Nowie   WW heeled   1.34  1.34   1.51   1.51   1.54   1.54   N/T   Nowie  CCTF   TF   heeled   N/T   N/T   N/T   Nowie   CTF       1.25  1.25   1.63   1.63   1.51   1.51   1.44   Nowie  NNon   on   CTF   1.44   N/T   N/T   This project is supported by Mittyack  CTF   1.17   1.44   1.43   Mittyack  CTF   1.17   1.44   1.43   1.37   1.37   1.27   1.27   the Department of Agriculture Mittyack  CTF  Wheeled   1.24   1.49   1.37   1.38   1.35   Mittyack  CTF  Wheeled   1.24   1.49   1.37   1.38   1.35   Mittyack  Non  CTF     1.28   1.70   1.62   1.53   1.43   and Water Resources, through Mittyack   N on   C TF     1.28   1.70   1.62   1.53   1.43   Rosebery  CTF   1.07   1.46   1.43   1.49   1.52   Rosebery  CC TF   1.49   1.47   1.52   funding from the Australian Rosebery   TF   Wheeled   1.19  1.07   1.49   1.46   1.43   1.43   1.46   Rosebery  NCon   TF  CW 1.46   1.55   1.47   Government’s National Rosebery   TF  heeled     1.10  1.19   1.54   1.49   1.53   1.43   1.52   1.10   1.54   1.53   1.52   1.55    Rosebery  Non  CTF    

Acknowledgements

Table 2 shows that in all cases, the un-wheeled CTF areas out yielded the wheeled areas in 2014.

Penetrometer readings were taken at all sites and all paired paddocks showed that the soils had a level of root resistance due to the lack of soil moisture in the soil profile. It is noted by Whitmore et al (2009) that at 2000 to 2500 kPa, plant root elongation is impeded and in 2011 Whitemore et al notes that “ The pressure, as determined by a penetrometer, at which plant roots become unable to extend into a soil varies by species but is generally in excess of 3 MPa” (1MPa = 1000kPa). By combining the penetrometer readings for each 10 cm zone and creating a kPa range, we are able to show that at 20 cm to 30 cm, the non-CTF paddocks have higher resistance readings than the CTF paddocks. As these values in the non-CTF paddock are well above 3000 kPa, root growth is being restricted. This root restriction would decrease the opportunities for plant roots to extract both moisture and nutrients. In all CTF paddocks, the wheel traffic zones were clearly identifiable.

depths. The CTF Wheeled area has higher bulk density compared to the CTF area but the Wheeled area does not always have higher bulk density than the non CTF. At Nowie, the Wheeled area is higher than the Non CTF in all except the 10-20 cm depth and the only other location where the CTF Wheeled area has higher bulk density than the Non CTF is Rosebery’s 0-10 cm depth.

Conclusion CTF un-wheeled areas outperformed the wheeled areas in the CTF paddocks in improving soil properties and yield, and in 73% of cases, the CTF paddocks have out yielded the non-CTF paddock when both were growing the same crop. The penetrometer results indicate that all soils showed a level of soil resistance to root

Plant samples taken from assessed areas

Landcare Programme.

Thanks to our partners in the controlled traffic farming component of the project, the Victorian No-till Farming Association.

References Whitmore A.P, Whalley W.R. 2009 Physical effects of soil drying on roots and crop growth Journal of Experimental Botany Vol 60 No 10 pp 2846 Whitmore A.P, Whalley W.R. Bird N.R.A, Watts C. W, Gregory A.S, 2011 Estimating soil strength in the rooting zone of wheat Plant Soil pp373

Bulk Density indicates the amount of open space in a soil in which plant roots can exchange gas and capture water. The higher the bulk density the less space the soil has for the exchange to occur. The bulk density for the three sites all show lower densities for the CTF paddocks compared to the non CTF paddocks, with the Mittyack site showing the greatest difference, ranging from 0.11 to 0.26 less for the CTF across the

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The

Mallee Farmer

Powerful imagery used by WorkSafe Victoria to promote farm safety.

Working safe in the Mallee By Marnie Williams, Executive Director of Health and Safety at WorkSafe Victoria It should have been just another autumn day on the farmer’s large cropping property. It was early afternoon and the tractor he was driving was slowly powering its way along a paddock, the GPS ensuring the air seeder trailing behind was doing its work with military-like precision. Then, for some reason, the farmer has got down from his tractor to inspect his machinery. Somehow he has become entangled in the air seeder while it was still operating. And he died. He was young, not yet 50, a professional farmer doing what he had no doubt done a hundred times before. And yet, in a split second, a typical autumn day on a Victorian farm has turned to horror, and left a family and community in mourning. Tragically, they are not the only ones. Already this year 12 people have died on farms in Victoria. Several had been run over by their tractor, either trying to get on or off while it was moving, or attempting to jump start it. Others have died after becoming entangled or trapped

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A workplace disaster may be closer than you think if safety isn’t a priority in attachments or machinery their tractors were towing. Two men have died in quad bike incidents. In farming, no two fatalities are ever the same but a number of key elements stand out. All were men and most were working alone. Most were doing a task they had down countless times before. In almost every case, they were experienced farmers, and yet they still died. WorkSafe investigators called out to each fatality have the grim task of trying to understand how it happened, and why. Perhaps, because the men were doing something they had done a thousand times before, they weren’t focusing on the job at hand, but the task after that. Perhaps they had been working long hours and they were tired. Maybe financial pressures had forced them to cut corners with maintenance. Perhaps they simply believed that it couldn’t happen to them. But, tragically, it did. It is an indisputable fact that farming is a high-risk occupation. Farmers work with a range of heavy machinery and attachments, and usually work alone and a long way from help if an incident occurs.

Farmers also often need to do the same task the same way, day-in, day-out. But, over time, complacency can creep in and that can prove deadly. That is why safety needs to be an essential part of a farmer’s daily routine. Tractors or their attachments are responsible for the vast majority of deaths on Victorian farms so implementing some simple safety rules could make the difference between life and death. For example: • Never get on or off a moving tractor. • Turn off the tractor before dismounting and apply the park brake, even if it is just to open or close a gate. Accidently knocking the transmission into gear while getting back onto a tractor is not a rare occurrence. • Always make sure the tractor is started from the driver’s seat – not from the ground. • Tractors and other types of farm machinery can often be left idle for long periods of time so if the battery is flat, remove it and charge it with a compatible battery charger or have it replaced with a fully


The

Mallee Farmer charged battery. Jump-starting tractors and other equipment have caused a number of farm fatalities because the victims were doing this from the ground, with the vehicle left in gear. They have been crushed when the engine has started and the machine has lurched forward. • Make sure all machinery is switched off and the PTOs disengaged when clearing blockages or undertaking maintenance. Be aware that if even machinery is powered down, stored energy can still briefly operate a machine once a blockage is cleared. • Ensure wheels are chocked and machinery is placed on support stands before undertaking any maintenance from underneath. Don’t rely on the machine’s hydraulics alone to support raised implements. These are just a few of the many ways farmers can reduce risks as they go about their daily tasks. Finally, fatigue is often part of a farmer’s daily life. Because it affects judgement and decision making, it can be deadly so managing fatigue during busy periods is an important part of staying safe. It surprises many to learn that agriculture employs just 3 per cent of Victorian workers but suffer almost 30 per cent of all workplace fatalities every year. It means that farmers are far more likely to die at work than any other Victorian worker.

Need cash for on-ground works? 2016-17 Mallee Biodiversity Incentive Programs

Incentives are now available for:

• • • • •

Weed Control Stock Exclusion Fencing Habitat Assessments Revegetation Expressions of interest close on Wednesday 11th September 2016

It is why no farmer should ever think that a serious injury – or worse – won’t happen to them. Be complacent about safety and the chances are high that it will.

For further information For more information visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/farmsafety

Find out more More information or to find out if you are eligible contact the Mallee CMA Project Officer Derrick Boord on 0428 316 146 or Cameron Flowers on 0427 509 663

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The

Mallee Farmer

MSF is encouraging farmers to have their say on future weed control in low rainfall areas through an online survey.

Farmers: Have your say on the future of weed warfare Farmers in the Northern Mallee (Millewa and Carwarp regions) are increasingly incorporating broadleaf break crops into their paddock rotations. By Alex Milner-Smyth, for Mallee Sustainable Farming Mallee farmers are being encouraged to have input into a strategy to better understand future weed control needs in low-rainfall zones. The survey is part of a three-year Grain Research and Development Council (GRDC) -funded project that is investigating alternatives to chemical herbicides, including cover cropping, row spacing and direction, the use of chaff carts, and narrow windrow burning. The five-minute online survey asks a range of questions about current and future weed control measures, seeding

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systems and crop types. Mallee Sustainable Farming Executive Manager Stuart Putland says that survey is a chance for farmers to ensure that research and development is undertaken in line with grower needs. “Survey data will provide us with a baseline understanding of current weed management strategies, which we’ll compare with information from a future survey. It also provides a valuable information to influence future research decisions in herbicide management”. Under this project, Mallee Sustainable Farming is investigating treatments including brown manuring, cutting crops for hay and mechanical control options. “We’ve gathered some initial results from last year’s trial at Bulla Burra, but won’t be able to assess their potential until the

results are collected for our 2016 field day in September this year”. The survey can be accessed and completed at https://www.surveymonkey. com/r/SLVB7MV. Data gathered as part of the survey process is stored confidentially, with results to be compiled and analysed as a group. Overdependence on AgroChemicals is managed by Central West Farming Systems, with trials carried out by Birchip Cropping Group, EPARF, Upper North Farming Systems and Mallee Sustainable Farming.


The

Mallee Farmer

Rotational effects of legume termination When choosing a legume to fit into a crop rotation, there are a number of system implications to consider. By By Alison Frischke and DeAnne Ferrier, Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) Take Home Messages • In a dry season, there was a small grain yield benefit (90kg/ha) for wheat that followed terminated vetch and field peas (1.5-2.4t/ha of biomass), compared with fallow and terminated medic. • Soil water benefits from fallow and legume termination don’t occur with dry spring finishes. • Using soil tests to measure nitrogen mineralisation helps you to properly evaluate the benefit of a legume crop or pasture in a rotation.

Background The value of a legume crop or pasture in cropping rotations, and for the ensuing

crop in particular, is well known. This arises from a number of factors including grass weed control, disease break, grazing or grain production value, fixation of soil nitrogen and effect on stored soil moisture. However, there is an array of system implications when choosing a legume to fit into a rotation. For example, the cost of seed, hard seededness, timing of termination and consideration of herbicide residue issues such as Lontrel® for susceptible crops.

Aim To compare fallow and termination timing treatments of legumes on biomass and grain production (2014), and their impact on sowing-time soil nitrogen and water, and subsequent yield and quality of cereal sown the following season (2015).

Trial Details Location: Beulah Soil type: Clay loam Annual rainfall: 216mm

GSR (Apr-Oct): 144mm Crop type/s: Mace wheat Sowing date: 7 May Seeding equipment: Knife points, press wheels, 30cm row spacing Target plant density:150 plants/m² Fertiliser: Granulock Supreme Z @ 30 kg/ha + Impact @ 110mL/ha at sowing (following a decile 1 season in 2014). Weeds, pests and diseases were controlled to best management practice.

Method In 2014, a replicated field trial was sown on 22 April with two plots each of Morava vetch, Kaspa field peas and Barrel medic with Granulock Supreme Z @ 50kg/ ha + Impact @ 200mL/ha at sowing. Brown manuring of these plots occurred at two times; early termination in July, and at peak biomass in September. Two plots were also left unsown for fallow treatments; one had complete weed control from July onwards, while the other had weed control only in September. Assessments included NDVI biomass at each termination, and soil water and nitrogen on all plots at harvest time. In 2015, the trial site was kept weed free until sowing. The trial was then sown with wheat to measure the rotation effects from 2014. Assessments included NDVI biomass, soil water and nitrogen (in increments to 120cm depth), and grain yield and quality parameters.

Results And Interpretation

Trial plots that include areas of terminated lequmes

In 2014, there was 35mm of plant available water (PAW) and 45kg/ha of available soil nitrogen prior to sowing. The season was a decile 1, receiving just 126mm of growing season rainfall (GSR). Due to low rainfall, soil moisture would not have penetrated the profile very far, and hence root growth and nitrogen fixation was limited. Continued onto page 24

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The

Mallee Farmer Continued from page 23 Field peas and vetch produced the highest biomass by July but field peas had highest production by the September termination (Table 1).

treatments and NDVI assessment (measures greenness and groundcover) on 25 August 2015 measured the same. By 6 October, NDVI was slightly higher on plots that had field peas terminated

Post-harvest soil water in the top 10cm was the same across all treatments, averaging 17mm. Albeit only small amounts, for 10-30cm deep, July fallow had slightly higher post-harvest soil moisture (34.5mm), compared with most other treatments (averaging 26.7mm) except medic terminated in September (22mm). Post-harvest soil water was the same for all treatments from 30-120cm depth. Post-harvest soil N at 0-10cm was highest at 24.2kg N/ha for vetch terminated in July, followed by the July fallow. Most other treatments had similar post-harvest soil N ranging from 14.518.5kg N/ha, except the September fallow with only 12.6kg N/ha – a result of the late fallow having weeds up until September that used N rather than fixing. A similar soil N response to treatments was measured in the 10-30cm soil layer but, with medic terminated in September, also having lower N. There were no further differences between treatments in post-harvest soil N from 30-120cm. Despite there being more biomass in September than July, crops were not able to fix more nitrogen between July and September. For some legume treatments nitrogen was utilised postJuly, as seen by lower post-harvest soil N levels for September termination treatments. This is an important observation and warrants further investigation as it may influence the ideal time for termination to conserve water and nitrogen.

2015 Following marginal differences between treatments at the end of the 2014 harvest, as would be expected there were no differences in soil moisture at any depth at sowing in 2015. In 2015, 69mm had fallen by the end of March, followed by another 24mm in April. Pre-sowing 0-10cm soil N was highest following 2014 treatments of vetch (at both termination times) and July fallow – reflecting the post-harvest assessments for soil N (Table 2). At 10-30cm however, field peas, along with vetch had at least 20kg N/ha more than fallow and medic. Mineralisation over summer did not differ between treatments – possibly because this site did not receive enough summer rainfall to drive differences in mineralisation.

For the grazed treatments, grazing took place when peas had 11 branches, faba beans eight branches, vetch four branches (11 August), and medic five branches (14 September). At this stage the legumes were providing enough ground cover and bulk for ground protection and good grazing value.

Terminated vetch in standing stubble

Feed tests indicated that all legumes had very good nutrition that would support lactating ewes and growing lambs (16% protein, 11MJ/kg and >30% NDF, Table 3).

in September, and lower on complete fallow.

At the time plots were grazed, there was good feed value which was greater for medic and peas compared with vetch and faba beans. This was a result of timing. Treatments were sampled a month later than grazed cereal assessments usually occur (where grain recovery is important), and medic was sampled later than other crops (Table 3).

Grain yield did not respond to 2014 termination timing, but did have a small response to the previous rotation (P=0.027, LSD=0.11, CV%=6.8). Mace grown after field peas and vetch yielded 1.17t/ha, while after medic and fallow yielded 1.08t/ha. There was no difference in any of the grain quality characteristics following the 2014 legume termination or fallow treatment. Protein averaged 13.9%, screenings 9.3% and test weight 72.5g/ hL. Again these results are a reflection of the lower plant growth in 2014 and subsequent effects on soil nitrogen and moisture post-harvest and pre-sowing in 2015, and that the crop is unlikely to have been nitrogen limited in 2015.

* DSE grazing days = DM (kg/ha) x feed test metabolisable energy (ME) / 8 MJ, which assumes that one DSE requires 8 MJ ME/day. Post-harvest soil N was highest following a fallow in 2015 – this may have again been due to the drier conditions preventing the legumes from fixing nitrogen and instead utilising nitrogen from the profile. The trial will be oversown with wheat in 2016.

LEGUME SYSTEMS TRIAL – BERRIWILLOCK 2015 A subsequent Grain & Graze 3 legumes systems trial was sown at Berriwillock in 2015, with essentially the same approach  

Commercial Practice While 2014 legume crop and pasture effects were limited due to a low rainfall

Table 1.  Biomass  production  and  differences  in  post-­‐harvest  soil  water  and  soil  N  for   legumes  and  fallow  at  termination  times,  Beulah  2014.   Legume  

Field Peas     Vetch     Medic     Fallow    

Termination timing  

Biomass (t/ha)  

July

1.66

September

2.43

July

1.47

September

1.66

July September  

2015    

Soil water     post-­‐harvest     10-­‐30cm  (mm)  

b

26.4

a

26.5

b

27.8

b

27.8

0.74

c

26.2

1.40

b

22.0

July

-­‐

34.5

September

-­‐

Soil N     post-­‐harvest     0-­‐10cm  (kg/ha)  

b

15.7

b

16.8

b b b

15.5

c

14.5

a

21.1

25.9

b

P<0.001

LSD (P=0.05)   CV%  

Sig. diff.  

Mace wheat was sown across all

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of measuring the system effects of different legumes (including faba beans), but comparing the end use of grazing and brown manuring rather than termination timing.

Soil N     post-­‐harvest     10-­‐30cm  (kg/ha)  

bc

20.7

b

cd

21.1

24.2

f

32.5

18.5

d

21.2

bc

19.8

ab

12.3

e

32.5

12.6

a

9.7

P<0.001

P<0.001

P<0.001

0.44

3.1

2.0

6.4

18.5

7.7

7.9

20.5

b c

b b a c

a


The

Mallee Farmer year, this trial shows that the capability of a legume to provide system benefits in a dry season is low. If the outlook is dry, there will be little advantage in allowing a legume crop to continue, and a decision can be made for an alternative use (to grain production) without penalty to soil nitrogen and moisture, particularly if there is a need to control grass or there is a plant disease control benefit. The consideration for management will be maintaining enough groundcover to protect the soil from erosion.

Table 2 - Nitrogen levels at time of termination Table 2.  Pre-­‐sowing  soil  N  levels  following  different  2014  crop

On-Farm Profitability At a urea price of $500/t (urea being 46% N), then 1kg N/ha fixed is worth $1.08/ ha. Even in poorer seasons, 36.2kg N/ha was mineralised by sowing, which has a value of $39/ha. It is worth using soil tests to calculate mineralised N when considering the value of a legume crop or pasture in a rotation.

Pre-­‐sowing soil  N  (kg  N/ha)  

Termination  timing  

July

2014 crop/fallow  

Mineralisation in the top 0-30cm soil following both fallow and terminated legumes was 36.2kg N/ha. This nitrogen is valuable for the following cereal. Many growers in the Mallee top-dress 23-32kg N/ha (50-70kg urea/ha) to a cereal crop if rainfall permits. In a previous BCG trial conducted from 2012-2014 near Birchip, where wheat was sown in 2013 (decile 1 GSR) following different termination timings of vetch in 2012, differences in mineralised N were recorded and wheat hayed off after later terminations (AugustSeptember) and where biomass grown in the previous season was above 2t/ha (Ferrier, D 2014).

September

10-­‐30 cm  

0-­‐10cm  

Field Peas  

43.8

39.8

65.9

Medic

38.1

36.7

33.4

Vetch

48.8

47.4

64.6

Fallow

48.0

30.4

44.7

Sig. diff.       Legume   P=0.001   P=0.002   Timing   P=0.002   -­‐   Legume  x  timing   P=0.008   -­‐               and  bulk  for  ground  protection     LSD  (P=0.05)       this  stage  the   legumes  were  providing  enough  ground  cover   and  good  grazing  value.     Legume   5.0   17.6   Feed  tests  indicated  that  all  legumes  had  very  good  nutrition  that  would  support  lactating   Timing   -­‐   ewes  and  growing  lambs   (16%  protein,  11MJ/kg  and  >3.5   30%  NDF,  Table  3).     x  gtrazed,   iming   7.1   -­‐   At  the  Legume   time  plots  were   there  was  good  feed  value   which  was  greater  for  medic  and   peas  compared  with  vetch  and  faba  beans.  This  was  a  result  of  timing.  Treatments  were     cereal  assessments  u  sually  occur  (where  grain  recovery     sampled  a  month  later  than  grazed   is  important),  and  medic  wCV%   as  sampled  later  than  other   c rops   ( Table   3 ).     11.6   32.3      

Table 3.  Feed  values  and  DSE  grazing  days  for  legumes,  Berriwillock  2015  

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the GRDC as part of the Grain & Graze 3 project (SFS00028).

References

Ferrier, D., 2014, 2014 BCG Season Research Results, ‘Vetch termination’, pp.33-38.

Dry matter   Post-­‐harvest   Metabolisable   Mineralisation   oNeutral   ver  summer   did  not  differ   between   treatments of  feed   CP     DSE  grazing   total  soil  N   Crop   detergent   energy     available   (%  DM)   days*   (MJ/kg  DM)   did  not  (kg/ha)   receive  efibre  (%)   nough  summer   rainfall  to  drive  d(kg/ha)   ifferences  in  

Mace w322.1 heat   sown  a26.7   cross  a10.7   ll  treatments   and  109.9b   NDVI  assessm   was   20.9 428.3 groundcover)  on  25  August  2015  measured  the  same.  By  6  Oct Medic   1043.5 37.8 26.5   10.7   1366.1  79.8c   on  plots  that  had  field  peas  terminated  in  September,  and  lowe Faba   Beans  

a

a

c

Peas

536.0

b

a

b

33.3

b

c

28.5

11.7

782.5

b

77.6c

Grain yield   014  termination   t75.8c   iming,  but  did 325.6 did  not   35.3 respond   28.8   to  211.4   462.7 previous  -­‐  rotation  -­‐    (P=0.027,   LSD=0.11,   CV%=6.8).   Mace  grown  a Fallow   -­‐   -­‐     -­‐   153.5a     yielded  P<0.001   1.17t/ha,   while  aNS  fter  medic   and  P<0.001   fallow  yielded   1.08t/ha Sig.  diff.   P<0.001   NS   P<0.001   Vetch  

a

b

a

There w164.0   as  no  difference   5.2   -­‐  in  any  o-­‐  f  the  grain   190.0   quality  characterist 26.5   termination  or  fallow  treatment.  Protein  averaged  13.9  per  cen CV%    19.6   6.8         14.2     23.0   test   weight   72.5g/hL.   Again   these   results   are  a  reflection   of  the *  DSE  grazing  days  =  DM  (kg/ha)  x  feed  test  metabolisable  energy  (ME)  /  8  MJ,  which   and  subsequent  effects  on  soil  nitrogen  and  moisture  post-­‐har assumes  that  one  DSE  requires  8  MJ  ME/day.     and  that  the  crop  is  unlikely  to  have  been  nitrogen  limited  in  20 Post-­‐harvest  soil  N  was  highest  following  a  fallow  in  2015  –  this  may  have  again  been  due  to   LSD   (P=0.05)  

the drier  conditions  preventing  the  legumes  from  fixing  nitrogen  and  instead  utilising  

25


The

Mallee Farmer

RabbitScan: Keeping in touch with a Mallee pest A community effort to map hotspots and problem areas for rabbits in the Mallee is gaining momentum as farmers, Landcare groups and even town residents are taking up and using the new RabbitScan program. North west Victorian rabbit and weed control contractor Keith Stewart undertakes control work for public land managers across the Mallee and said RabbitScan-Mallee was shaping up to be an important tool.

By Jacinta Gange, for the Mallee CMA RabbitScan-Mallee is a community resource that was developed last year and launched in Ouyen after several landholders expressed concern about rising rabbit populations and seeing a need for a coordinated approach to control.

“In our work, we treat between 60 and 100 rabbit warrens a day where we map the active warrens, fumigate them and close the warren, then come back some time later to re-check and ensure the treatment has worked and the warren has not become active again,” Mr Stewart said.

The RabbitScan-Mallee program provides landholders and the community with a website and phone app to record rabbit hotspots, and provides a map to view where the problem areas exist across the entire district.

“We can map up to 20 kilometres of road a day and if we see areas that we think need to be looked at or aren’t already known, we pass that information on as well,” he said.

Developed by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, the project coordinator Peter West said RabbitScan-Mallee was providing a resource for people across the Mallee district to map problem areas and work collectively. “Everyone can help develop a community map of rabbit problem areas across the Mallee, and the more people who use it, the better it will become for helping local landholder groups and authorities to target rabbit problem areas in a coordinated way,” he said. “Unfortunately rabbits are here to stay, but we can reduce their impacts by being smart about where we do control, and by working together,” Mr West said. “RabbitScan-Mallee could potentially become an effective tool for prioritizing areas where control resources are most needed, but this will require everyone to record local rabbit problems so that a landscape-scale approach can be taken,” he said. Using techniques such as ripping, fumigating and baiting can have substantial benefits, but those involved

26

Pest animal control contractior, Keith Stewart in control need to know where the priority areas exist. Mr West said coordinating rabbit control efforts and working collaboratively as a community was the key to success. When people work together to map, prioritize and control problem areas with their neighbours and local authorities, that’s when the best and longest outcomes are reached. “It can take as little as 3 minutes to map local rabbit hotspots. To do so, simply open the RabbitScan Map, zoom in to where the problem exists, and record the details of the problem at that location,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a roadside, parkland, private land, a cemetery, school yard or grain handling facility – if there are rabbits there, record them on the RabbitScan Map.”

“I can certainly see the value of coordinating the efforts and being strategic because if we can divert the resources into the right places where it’s needed, that’s how we’ll be most effective.” Mr Stewart said he was noticing a decline in rabbit populations, particularly juvenile rabbits, since summer. “We’ve noticed a clear drop-off particularly in smaller rabbits – the ones we are seeing seem largely to be mature rabbits,” he said. “That might present us with an opportunity to get some really good results by targeting our efforts and taking advantage of the drop-off in numbers that’s already there. “I would encourage everyone – farmers, contractors everyone who notices rabbit activity – to report it on the RabbitScan Map. “The rabbits are a humbug, a confounded nuisance, and there’s not that much money around, so it’s best to be able to direct it to the highest-priority areas.”


The

Mallee Farmer The app (which works with and without mobile reception) can be downloaded from the RabbitScan-Mallee website www.rabbitscan.org.au/mallee. It’s also available from the AppStore or the Google play store by searching for “Rabbit Scan”. It is hoped that RabbitScan-Mallee will also help in maximizing the outcomes from the release of an additional rabbit biocontrol virus early next year by identifying sites for biocontrol and followup with conventional methods after the virus has been released.

Acknowledgements

RabbitScan-Mallee has been developed with support from the Mallee Landcare Group, Mallee Catchment Management Authority, Mildura Rural City Council and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.

Find out more

GPS marking of rabbit warrens

Contact Peter West, Invasive Animals CRC (peter.west@ invasiveanimals.com or Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA (kevin. chaplin@malleecma.com.au)

Mr West said RabbitScan-Mallee was proving effective in bringing farmers, major stakeholders and the community together. “Landcare groups, Mildura Rural City Council, and the Mallee CMA are real drivers of RabbitScan because they have helped design the resource to meet local needs, and see the benefit of using it to work together,” he said. The RabbitScan-Mallee resource is free, and can be used to record rabbit activity, rabbit warrens, and the damage or impacts caused by rabbits. It can also be used to record control actions such as warren ripping, fumigation and poison baiting – to map where control has been done. People can then go back and check for re-colonisation by rabbits and do follow-up control if needed. RabbitScan-Mallee is available both as a mobile phone app and as a desktop program to allow people to document rabbit problems easily in the field or from a desktop computer.

RabbitScan helps find these hidden rabbit warrens

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The

Mallee Farmer

Glenn is pictured talking to Premier Daniel Andrews and Mallee CMA Chair Sharyon Peart during the Premier’s drought tour in April 2016.

Supporting families and communities through the drought The Southern Mallee Drought Employment Program is delivering benefits to farmers and communities across the Mallee. By Jacinta Gange, for the Mallee CMA A surprising and diverse mix of stories has created the workforces at the centre of the Southern Mallee’s Drought Employment Program. But whatever their background and skills, program participants are making a remarkable difference for themselves, their families and their communities in a program announced by the Victorian Government late last year, and further extended in March. The drought employment program offers flexible, part-time employment to people severely affected by drought and there are now crews

28

based at Hopetoun, Birchip and Woomelang. The program is part of the Victorian Government’s drought response package and is being managed by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA). Similar programs are also being offered by Wimmera and North Central CMAs. The drought employment work crews are made up largely of farmers and farm workers, but also include several farm women taking the opportunity to work off the property, another is a school-leaver and one is a small business operator. All have been affected by the drought, but the Mallee CMA’s Marissa Shean says she’s amazed at how the teams have bonded, and how communities have latched on to the broader opportunities the program presents. “The program offers work for up to four

days a week on jobs such as weed and rabbit control works; fencing native vegetation; improving soil health; and GPS mapping of weeds and riparian revegetation,” Mrs Shean explained. “They’re primarily environmental projects – but as the word has got out about the potential from a community point of view, we’ve had some fantastic ideas come forward for local projects,” she said. “We’ve had crews working on things like cleaning up around the Lake Corrong Homestead, at Hopetoun, watering native vegetation sites and removing old fencing and rubbish from local public reserves – things the community sees need doing, but where there aren’t the resources, time or energy.” Local bulk fuel distributor Glenn Hogan has been self-employed for 20 years, but jumped at the chance to be involved in


The

Mallee Farmer the program at Birchip late last year. “I first read about it in the local newspaper when applications were available and it caught my eye. I wondered if it could apply to me but I had a feeling it might just be for farmers and farm workers,” Glenn said. “But I found out that the program is available to anyone affected by the drought and the decline in the farming industry.” Glenn was appointed to manage the Birchip crew, a team of four. “We had come off the poor harvest which finished early and of course that affects my business directly,” Glenn said. “Probably the other guys had similar thoughts to me – what am I going to do to supplement my income until it rains again? “I was at a bit of a loose end because my business is a lot like a farm business – there are always plenty of jobs to be done but a lot of them don’t generate much income!” Glenn said the flexibility of the program was the key to its success from the participants’ perspective.

of the landscaping outside the Birchip hospital which has made it look much better. “We’ve put a rabbit proof fence around the Birchip school oval, which has meant the turf can be replanted, and the kids have a grassed area to play on.

“Everyone in town notices that things are getting done and it gives you a lot of pride in the work when you get some acknowledgement from the community – it makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “But it also makes everyone feel better when something is tidied up or improved.

“We are also currently working on a similar fence for the Birchip Recreation Reserve and at the hockey field, and we’ve tidied up around CFA shed, the RSL Hall and the kindergarten, and there are plans to get involved with a general cleanup and fencing at the trotting track.

“I think we’ve all learned a lot, got to know people we mightn’t have known that well previously and added some new skills, especially our youngest participant, who took on the program as a school-leaver until he could find fulltime work.

“All these are jobs that need doing but the groups struggle to find the time, because families already have a lot of commitments and there isn’t always the manpower – we can do the jobs as a team, or by just giving some extra help to the groups, so they really appreciate that a work team is here that can lend a hand and get things done.”

“We’ve all had the opportunity to do different training courses, such as First Aid and the Chemical Handler’s Certificate, and there are still some opportunities down the track for us to do more in that area.

Glenn said the program was a worthwhile experience and had brought multiple benefits to southern Mallee communities.

“It’s been a really positive initiative that has benefited the community in so many ways and a fantastic experience for all of us who’ve been involved.”

“If a guy owns a business, or a farm or whatever, that takes first priority, so it varies from week-to-week, but most are working three or four days a week,” Glenn said. “But if there’s a job that crops up that has to be attended to, like a livestock issue, or fencing, it’s just a matter of a phone call – they ring up and say they won’t be here,” he said. “Fortunately after the good start to the season this year I was busy in my own business and the farm-based participants were also busy so we took a break for a few weeks, but now that cropping is finished we are getting back into it. “From my point-of-view as the team manager, it’s very simple because the team-members in my crew have terrific skills themselves. “They’re all involved in their own businesses, so they virtually manage themselves.” Glenn said while the program directly had a positive financial impact on each family involved, the extra income also created a beneficial flow-through to other businesses within the community. “The money people are earning is being spent locally, in most cases, so there’s a shared benefit,” he said. “But there’s also a great community benefit from the projects we undertake. For example, we’ve done a revamp

29


The

Mallee Farmer

Long term trials are developed so as to mimic all types of climate conditions

Sowing big so we dont loose the plot When this year’s Agriculture Victoria winter crop sowing program is completed, the research programs working out of western Victoria will have established more than 100,000 plots and/or rows covering more than 100ha. By Leah Heinrich, DEDJTR Some plots in the long-term trials are 14 metres wide by 40 metres long, and scientists are monitoring one trial that has been sown for the 100th year in a row. While the area is not large compared to the average farm, these plots and rows can range from as little as 22cm wide by 1.4 metres long rows – and exposed to predicted 2050 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels – to four-metre-square plots or 5-metre-long rows in open paddock trials. Every plot needs to be monitored and measured so the results can be recorded as part of the

30

research process for projects funded by Agriculture Victoria, with major partners including Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Australian Government. The work is part of numerous projects underway in the cropping zone that stretches from the higher rainfall Western District in the south to the drier northern Mallee region. Plant pathologist Grant Hollaway has about 55,000 rows of cereal growing in disease nurseries near Horsham and also 2,700 rows near Hamilton. His project tests varieties to ensure that any disease resistance is still working from season to season, and to help breeders to develop new disease-resistant cultivars. He will also have 4000 field plots in trials in several Wimmera sites looking

at nematodes, 2500 investigating foliar disease and 1000 for crown rot research. Dr Jason Brand’s Southern Pulse Agronomy Project is putting in 3500 plots over 10ha stretching from Ouyen in the north to Rokewood in the south. Dr Brand works with plant breeders to road-test new varieties before they are released. Dr Surya Kant has more than 1000 plots of wheat genotypes sown under irrigation, as well as rain-fed and under the cover of rainout shelters, to study crop drought tolerance, and has experimental plots near Horsham that are testing different nitrogen applications to explore improving nitrogen-use efficiency in wheat. Agriculture Victoria Horsham is the national leader in lentil and pea breeding


The

Mallee Farmer and breeders have put in 400 plots at Speed, 2600 at Curyo, 2600 at Beulah, all in the Mallee, and 840 at Minyip in the Wimmera. There are also extensive pulse breeding trials at Horsham with 6000 plots and 6000 rows each of lentils and peas, which are investigating issues including yield, disease resistance and herbicide tolerance. Research scientists are testing canola for blackleg resistance in 4500 plots at Green Lake near Horsham, and 1500 at Wickliffe in the Western District. The Australian Grains Genebank will regenerate some of its seed collection, with 2500 winter cereal seed increase plots on irrigation near Horsham. These plots will have their plant characteristics recorded during growth, and the harvested seed will be added into the long-term storage facility for future development of new plant varieties. The Australian Grains Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (AGFACE) project will again grow a range of trials in 10, 16m-wide “rings” near Horsham. Crops in these rings are exposed to either current (ca. 400) or elevated carbon dioxide levels (550 ppm) predicted for 2050.

Yield Gap” to more than 120 across the Mallee, Wimmera and Glenelg Hopkins regions over the past four years.” The Soil Sciences team is also evaluating nitrogen use efficiency of wheat using a stable (non radioactive) isotope (15N) to track the fate of N fertiliser in growers’ paddocks in the Wimmera, Glenelg-Hopkins and North Central regions and evaluating the adaptation of wheat germplasm when grown on sodic soils west and south of Horsham. In the High Rainfall Zone, there are more than 800 wheat and canola research plots at Hamilton, Westmere and Inverleigh and 40 on-farm survey sites. Trials are focusing on trait and variety evaluation, disease and nutrition.

Find out more

To learn more about this and other projects, visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au

These trials are determining the impacts of higher CO2 on grain quality in wheat (especially low protein and reduced baking quality) in a bid to find solutions now, before the problems arise. In addition to the AGFACE plots, large intact soil cores – weighing up to 160kg each – collected from different parts of western Victoria are located in “bunkers” in the ground in SoilFACE. These cores, which are planted with crops each year, have been subjected to the same CO2 treatments as AGFACE since 2009. Prof. Roger Armstrong’s Soil Science’s team is sowing long-term tillage/rotation trials at Longerenong and Walpeup. Prof. Armstrong said the plots in these long-term trials, which are 14 metres wide and up to 40 metres long, are monitored to assess how grain yields and critical soil quality indicators such as organic carbon and nitrogen are influenced by different rotations (pasture and crops) and tillage. “One of the trials (LR1) is about to be sown for the 100th year in a row, which reveals just how long we have been conducting research of this kind,” he said. “We are also continuing to monitor soil and wheat crop growth in more than 24 paddocks, bringing the total number of research paddocks in the “Filling the

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The

Mallee Farmer

Curiosity the key to feral cat control It’s hoped a project that aims to get a handle on feral cat activity in the HattahKulkyne National Park will be the first step in a long-term control program for the park’s unwanted felines. By Jacinta Gange, for the Mallee CMA Feral cats are identified as a major risk to the ability of the iconic Hattah Lakes to respond to the favorable conditions created through environmental watering. To address this, work is underway to develop a feral cat control program that will have long lasting benefits. The project is aimed at assessing the impact of cats in the park as well as their interactions with foxes and their likely consumption of baits. “For a species known as such an ecological threat in south eastern Australia, there is a surprisingly small amount of knowledge about what feral cat control tools might work or where, when and how best we can apply them,” said Mallee CMA Project Officer Malcolm Thompson. “We know feral cats are a significant problem in Hattah-Kulkyne because of

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the amount of sightings that are reported – but it’s 50,000 hectares of wilderness and we wanted to get a bit more of a handle on what the numbers were like, and to draw some evidence about the damage they are doing,” he said. The Arthur Rylah Institute was engaged to work with the MCMA on the project and researcher Dr Alan Robley headed up the research, due to his experience in dealing with feral cats. “Stage one of the project has really been about getting some idea of the size of the problem,” Mr Thompson said. “To do that, we set up a grid across the 50,000 hectares and installed two motion-sensing digital cameras at each of 50 sites to monitor them over a sixweek period in March and April 2016,” he said. “The sites were baited with speciallymade non-toxic sausages and we put up tinsel fluttering in the breeze to draw the attention of the cats and attractants to draw them to the bait.

“On half of the sites the attractant was a ‘tweety bird’ which you can buy from practically any discount store – a wooden bird that emits a gentle ‘tweet’ sound. On the other half of the sites it was a mini recorder with a recording of a cat meowing noise. “We used fishing line to tie the baits to a tent peg, with the idea that when a cat came along it had a bit of a task to get away with the bait. It would give our cameras the opportunity to capture plenty of good-quality pictures and allow us to identify the individuals that came to the site over the six weeks.” Mr Thompson said the thousands of pictures taken during the monitoring phase were now being evaluated, with the project report and recommendations for a feral cat management strategy due in the second half of 2016. “We already know we have excellent photographs that allow us to tell the cats apart – we know there are lots of different cats of lots of different colors,” he said.


The

Mallee Farmer

Arthur Rylah Institute’s Dr Alan Robley with the Mallee CMA’s Angelo Taglierini at work at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park setting traps.

“We have certainly proved that there are cats in Hattah National Park and once we have finished reviewing the data we will have a clearer idea of potentially how many there might be out there.” While the project has proven the presence of cats in the park, the task of catching them is somewhat more difficult and Mr Thompson said the smaller second part of the project clearly underlined the extent of the challenge. “We came back to 34 of the high-value sites with cat traps – the same as those the councils use, where a cat enters the trap and reaches for a bait on the roof and sets off a trip plate to close the door,” he said. “The traps were checked daily, and for the six weeks the traps were in place we caught six cats – five normal-sized cats and one very large tomcat. “The cats were euthanized” by a vet and the contents of their stomach were removed so we can have them analyzed

to find out exactly what they’ve been eating. “But what we did find is probably what we already knew –it’s difficult to catch wild cats in cages and it’s extremely difficult to catch these feral animals, in particular. “We are looking at revisiting the cage trapping during summer, hopefully when the cats are more food-stressed in the hope of some better results. “But the research is continuing into the development of suitable animal control technologies to deal with feral cats and this research will be helpful in that process.” “These are not suburban moggies gone wild – they are stealth killers and really demonstrates clearly that other control methods will be critical to having success in reducing and controlling their numbers.”

Mr Thompson said ongoing work in Western Australia on potential toxic bait methods of control were of interest, and some of the research in the Hattah-Kulkyne program would be useful in developing the technology further. “The more we can learn about cats and how they behave in the wild, the more effectively we will be able to deal with the problem, and minimize the impact of feral cats in beautiful, pristine and iconic semi-arid Victorian environments such as the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.”

Find out more

The feral cat program at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. The program is being delivered by the Mallee CMA and Arthur Rylah Institute, in partnership with Parks Victoria.

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The Last Word

By Glen Sutherland Regional Landcare Facilitator

In each edition of the Mallee Farmer, we take a look at some of the “Mallee’s most wanted” when it comes to invasive plants and animals. Regular readers of the Mallee Farmer, and this column in particular, know how much emphasis we put on weeds; those that invade and impact crops and those that impact our environment. Weeds remain a major issue for private and public land managers and put a very large dent in farm profitability. They directly compete with crops for nutrients and moisture. The presence of weed seeds can seriously downgrade grain quality resulting in diminished returns. In sufficient numbers, grazing of weeds can even render some meats useless for human consumption, through tainting. Herbicide resistant weeds are causing major issues across all land tenures with the need to use more expensive chemicals, more often, to try and maintain effective control. Weeds can cause significant animal health issues and can be responsible for substantial stock production impacts including stock losses. Weed control programs consume a substantial amount of public money and account for a great deal of voluntary efforts and hours donated by community members, including many Landcare and “Friends Of” groups.

The report authored by Dr Rick Llewellyn, CSIRO, David Ronning and Michael Clarke form AgEconPlus, Steve Walker, UniQuest and Jackie Ouzman, CSIRO, follows the most comprehensive study of the impacts of weeds on Australian grain production since the year 2000. This time the report also includes a study of the various weed management and tillage practices adopted by farmers to control weeds and their associated estimated costs.

This situation is quite obvious to land managers and farmers as the control of weeds drives many of the short and long term crop production decisions that are made on-farm from season to season. What is sometimes less obvious is the financial impact that weeds can and do have on the farm business and how a better understanding of these costs might be able to inform more effective farm management decision making. A recent report published by The Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), contains the latest survey results about the impacts of agricultural weeds across the Australian grain producing regions and really highlights the extent of economic impacts they have.

The

The report uses information gathered from 600 grain growers from across the western, southern and northern grain growing regions and included wheat, barley, oats, canola, pulses and sorghum.

Some of what the study found: •

The overall cost of weeds to grain growers is estimated to be a staggering $3.3 billion a year;

Weeds are costing grain growers, on average, $146/ha for control and lost production;

Weed control alone, including herbicides and other methods, costs $113/ha per annum;

Yield losses attributed to weeds is 2.76 Million tonnes a year;

Nationally, the most costly weeds are ryegrass, wild radish and wild oats, with brome grass fast catching up on the other three.

Weeds are costing Mallee grain growers, on average, $105/ha;

Weed control alone, including herbicides and other methods in Mallee, is costing producers, on average, $73/ha per annum.

The report also contains detailed information about non herbicide weed control methods such as narrow windrow burning and associated costs for each method. This report is well worth a look, if only to see what other regions are up to and where the cost effective options for weed control might be. The Regional Landcare Facilitator is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. The report is available online and can be downloaded from https://grdc.com.au/ Resources/Publications/2016/03/Impactof-weeds-on-Australian-grain-production

So how did the Mallee (included SA Mallee) fare? •

Mallee Farmer

The total cost of weeds to Mallee grain growers is estimated to be $317 Million annually;

Brome grass: not yet Australia’s worst crop weed, but fast heading that way

Contact

Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone 03 5051 4377 Facsimile 03 5051 4379 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502

www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Mallee Farmer Edition 11  
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