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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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Mobile app to highlight rabbit hotspots in the Mallee

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Global wheat yields predicted to drop as temperatures rise

ISSUE 08 • Autumn 2015

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Landcare’s pro-active approach to recycling old grain bags

Managing tracks in Controlled Traffic Farming p2 Hay and livestock - Helping to mitigate crop frost damage and manage risk - p4


The

Mallee Farmer Contents Mallee seasonal outlook summary

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Innovation in track renovation

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Hay and livestock mitigate frost damage

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GRDC national frost initiative

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Mapping rabbit and mouse hotspots

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Innovation in cropping systems project

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Aspiring agronomist grows his skills

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Low uptake of controlled traffic farming

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Innovation in agriculture It is inspiring to be in the Mallee in such a time of innovation, where management practises and technology are advancing rapidly to enhance farming in this region.

in the Mallee Wheat yield predicted to drop as

In the Landcare Links section, we take a look at the many wonderful achievements of Landcare groups across the region and learn how one inventive community group is using a portable compactor to manage used grain bags.

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temperatures rise

Landcare Links Getting the Job done

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South Eastern Mallee News

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South Western Mallee News

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An introduction to your new facilitator

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The Chicken Scoop

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Northern Mallee News

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How technology is helping to tell the

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Landcare story New Landcare group for those interested 19 in managing land for conservation Eastern mallee landcare consortium

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takes on large grain bag recycling issue Victorian local landcare facilitator

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initiative Victorian Landcare awards

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National Variety Testing yield results

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Two year breaks increase profitability

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Native forage crops for dryland grazing

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This edition of Mallee farmer highlights innovation in agricultural technology and practises. Farmer ingenuity and resourcefulness is featured with machinery designed to support paddock tracks in use with controlled traffic farming systems; while new technology is being used to predict mouse plagues; and on-ground research continues to reveal new insights into in crop rotation, pulse choices and native fodder for grazing.

With so much innovation and strategic thinking happening across the Mallee’s agriculture sector, it was pleasing to hear the value of soil health is a top priority for Australia’s former Governor General, the Honourable Major General Michael Jeffery. The Major General is the National Advocate for Soil Health and Chair of the Soils for Life Program, which is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation with a particular focus on sustainability issues and soil health in rural areas. During his visit to the Victorian Mallee in late February 2015, the Major General took the time to discuss soil health with agronomists and staff from a number of local organisations. Thank you to all the organisations and individuals who have contributed to this edition of the Mallee Farmer. This is certainly a bumper issue showcasing the innovation and determination of the Mallee’s agriculture sector. Sharyon Peart Chairperson Mallee CMA Board

systems Tracking sheep grazing habits

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Grazing shrub performance

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Field peas exel

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Buffel Grass

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ISSN: 1839 - 2229

Cover Image Rainbow over cereal crops at Waitchie. Photographer: Kim Cross

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

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.


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Mallee Farmer

Mallee seasonal outlook summary With such diverse 2014 cropping results I can only highlight and generalise the issues that may be facing individual farm businesses as we gather momentum into the 2015 season. By

Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision Consultant and GRDC Southern Panel Member

2014 Seasonal Conditions As mentioned in the August 2014 edition, after one of the best April seasonal breaks in living memory and May temperatures five degrees Celsius above average, I stated that these combined factors had placed us into unchartered waters and to expect the unexpected. How the season unfolded is now history, but its legacy will remain etched for all to ponder. For many it was a both a cropping and financial disaster, while for others it provided an average, or better than average yielding year with excellent prices. These two opposites would occur within 50 kilometres of each other. It was completely dependent upon soil type, seeding time, and of course the highly erratic, and for many, non-existent Spring rainfall. The season was punctuated with early aphid invasions, Beet Western Yellows Virus threat to canola, Diamond Back Moths, Army worm, and of course severe stem frost and subsequent damage rarely witnessed in such early crop growth stages! Decisions around cutting for hay and of nitrogen (N) topdressing applications were all to be made in among the previously mentioned and many other issues - a very complex and potentially stressful situation.

Now into 2015 With such diverse 2014 cropping results I can only highlight and generalise the issues that may be facing individual farm businesses as we gather momentum into the 2015 season.

Fertiliser A nutrient replacement program should always be the minimum aim; but if things are financially tight then research has clearly shown that in the more fertile paddocks of the Mallee when a topsoil test of phosphorous(P) – Colwell of 15 to 20ppm is obtained, then greatly reducing or even leaving out P will not have a detrimental effect on yield that year. This does not mean that other important nutrients such as nitrogen (N) can be neglected. When making such important decisions, a soil test is critical to allow a science based business plan to be formulated.

Plant-backs The coming Summer is forecast to be drier and warmer than average and this will not encourage residual chemical break-down. Now is a great time to recheck your paddock chemical records and to go back at least two years to reinforce strategies needed to prevent damage to susceptible crops. Many of our currently used cereal chemicals can severely damage subsequent pulses unless significant amounts of rainfall have occurred since their application.

Rotation choice I am still a great believer in choosing a crop type based upon paddock agronomics (yield) rather than suspected economics (anticipated price). That is, a healthy, high yielding crop almost always returns more into your pocket than does chasing a crop that is either currently highly priced, or one you do not have much experience with, the correct machinery to handle, nor the right paddock history. Paddock history also needs more explanation going into 2015. Many of our current varieties have differing disease ratings than we are used to and it is difficult to keep up with it all.

Rob Sonogan

Last year we saw issues such as cereal cyst nematode (CCN) and crown rot in cereals at worrying levels. Please understand that the choices that are made at seeding time are often irreversible as these two diseases cannot be controlled in-crop. DNA testing in suspected paddocks is well worth while.

The year ahead? Best if I stick to good old election night statement: ‘it is too early to call at this stage’.

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

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The

Mallee Farmer

A “Grizzley Renovator” with modifications made by Ash and Peter Teasdale of Rupunyup

Innovation in track renovation A good renovator pulls soil from the outer edge of the track through a soil disturbing pass like cultivating or discing. By Amity Dunstan, Victorian No-Till Farming Association Tilling, grading, harrowing, rolling, prickling and packing were just some of the Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) track renovation processes demonstrated at the Victorian No-Till Farmers Association (VNTFA) field day on 30 January in the Wimmera. VNTFA showcased farmer ingenuity and resourcefulness through discussion on the best possible implements to overcome issues with their paddock tracks created by adopting CTF systems. Six implements, consisting of farmer-made, farmer-

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modified and commercial gear were scrutinized, praised and discussed by over 50 farmers. Tracks become degraded through a combination of factors such as long periods of rainfall or driving on them in damp conditions. To maintain tracks, the following have been suggested to avoid having to renovate; stay off the paddock when wet, use only tracked machines, operate lighter machinery and use only wide tyres, though it is accepted that these are unrealistic expectations. Tracks allow greater access when it is wet, allowing farmers to get onto the paddock in the shortest time frame possible. A good renovator pulls soil from the outer edge of the track through a soil disturbing pass like cultivating or discing. The bottom

compacted layer of the track should not be disturbed, this is the hard pan which is needed for good stability and access. The cultivar can’t cut too deep, and the mounding can’t be too high, as this will challenge the autosteer and gravity will pull the tractor or header off the line. The final pass of a good renovator packs the disturbed track, ready for the next pass. At the field day Luke Rethus clearly demonstrated his understanding of the processes required to renovate the tracks on his farm. Together with his brother Tim and managing assistant Glenn Pietsch, Rethus Farms showcased a four-step linkage and trailing machine that tilled, grader boarded, prickled and packed. The sled-like implement was only used after a legume rotation when humidity was less than 30 percent.


The

Mallee Farmer

Rethus farms “four-step” linkage and tillage machine on display

Ian and Greg Ruwoldt engineered the “Fat Controller” which resembled nothing of a man in a top hat talking to trains, but it certainly was big, heavy and very impressive. Using a truck axel with discs and rollers, and carrying four tonnes of weight on the tandem, Ian was confident that his renovator met all of his track renovation needs. Gavin and Percy Puls’ self-built renovator highlighted the exceptional engineering skills of this family to create an effective ripping, throwing and mounding implement. Made entirely from salvaged scrap metal with a few old tyres, and focussed around a cleverly centred tyre on a hydraulic ram for depth control and travel, this machine was testament that implementing a CTF system doesn’t require new and shiny machines to be successful. Then came the farmer-modified machines that had potential to make the manufacturers cringe, criticize or become inspired from how their products were being utilized. Both Paul Oxbrow and the Teasdales operate Grizzly Renovator rigs, but each had made their own modifications to varying degrees, to get a better paddock result from their plant.

Finally, Peter South demonstrated his K-Line Speedtiller. Peter had invested in this machine for a number of purposes not just for renovating his tracks - to make the machine more cost effective. He was pleased with the implement, commenting on a few modifications he may consider making in the future. Track renovation is only done when and where necessary, thus it is a lousy argument against adopting CTF simply because tracks will need a bit of work one day. Ask the Australian CTF scientists Blackwell, Isbister, Yule, Reithmuller, Whitlock, Neale and Tulberg about the proven benefits of matching all wheel widths with implement ratios. These experts have guided the field days, magazine articles and conferences of Vic No-Till to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of Controlled Traffic Farming. The track renovation field day was made possible by funding from the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority. It was targeted at farmers who had adopted CTF and were seeking new knowledge as to how to maintain their profitable and sustainable cropping system.

Acknowledgement This program was delivered by Vic No-Till in association with the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and participants.

For more information Vic No-Till Office Phone: 03 5382 0422 Email: info@vicnotill.com.au

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The

Mallee Farmer

Simon Cook with hay cut from frosted crops in 2014

Hay and livestock mitigate frost damage in the southern Mallee “Having a strong focus on both the domestic and export hay market, along with establishing a fat lamb feedlot, has helped one Victorian Southern Mallee farming family to help insulate their family farming business from the severe frost events of 2014. “

By Alistair Lawson, GRDC One family in the Victorian southern Mallee have taken a pro-active approach to mitigating the effects of frost damage in grain crops by diversifying their interests. They have begun to cut frost damaged crops for hay for both the export market and for use in their own fat lamb feedlot. Having a strong focus on both the domestic and export hay market, along with establishing a fat lamb feedlot, has helped one Victorian Southern Mallee farming family to help insulate their family farming business from the severe frost events of 2014. The Cook family farm is located west of Hopetoun, in Victoria. They crop 3,200 hectares made up of 70% cereals (wheat and barley), 30% vetch and lentils, with

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some canola. Between 20% and 25% of the cereal program is sown to oaten hay, mostly for export markets. Some land is set aside for vetch hay for the domestic market. The Cooks describe their hay program as “another tool in the shed,” which helps to minimise the risk of an entirely grain-focussed farming operation. The Cooks buy in approximately 3,000 crossbred lambs annually to graze stubbles and finish in their own feedlot, adding diversity to their enterprise. With an ideal climatic start to the year, Simon looks back on 2014 and laments on what could have been as in the early stages his crops were showing great potential, but he still has confidence in his management practises. “Even with the frost risk there, early-sown crops in April and May are out-yielding crops sown later,” Simon said. “We’ll still have the seeder ready to go by

the start of April. Sowing as early as we do, we’ve got to expect a little bit of frost.” Simon appreciates the severity of the 2014 frosts is something that has seldom been seen in the southern Mallee. As one of the district’s young farmers, it is a view he has formed from conversations with his father and other older farmers in the district. “In the first week of August we got absolutely smacked by frost,” Simon said. “It got down to minus-four degrees Celsius and stayed under zero for so long in the morning. Even with hindsight we wouldn’t change our management strategies. We’re never going to completely avoid frost and by all reports, the 2014 frosts were out of the box in terms of severity.” Simon uses a unique method in determining which frosted crops would and would not be cut for hay. He cuts a one square metre patch from a crop that looked to be frost-damaged and likely to return a low grain yield, puts it in a bag and microwaves it to dry out the cuttings. After


The

Mallee Farmer weighing the dried matter, he calculates the dry matter yield per hectare. “This gives me a good idea of the hay cut I’m going to get”. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures for Hopetoun got down to -4.5°C in August with sub-zero temperatures recorded for four days in a row from August 2 to 5. From August 4 to 31, the district recorded no rain. This came after Hopetoun recorded 17.2 mm in July and 19.6mm in June. The Cook’s farm is in a low-lying area with sand hills which drain into red loams and limestone. The loam and limestone soil types were worst affected by the frost due to their low-lying topography. “Wherever there was a low-lying area, the frost drained in,” Simon said. “When the plants are already moisture stressed, frost always does more damage. By the time I weigh up my options on whether to cut for hay or harvest, I figure that cutting for hay isn’t a great expense for us because we’ve already got the equipment,” Simon explains.

fact, the Cooks were quite successful with their entire hay cut in terms of prices and demand. “When we were cutting, people were screaming out for hay because of the dry conditions,” Simon said. “Basically all our hay was sold by January with only about 100 tonnes of wheaten and barley hay left.” With lamb prices being particularly solid over the last 12 months, the lamb feedlot has also been a handy outlet for the hay cut from frost-damaged crops, with excess going there. The grain harvest came back just under average at 1.9t/ha for both wheat and barley. However, Simon says that figure could have been a lot worse had he not made the decision to cut frosted crops for hay. Overall, Simon believes the most important part of managing farming in a changing climate frosts is to be flexible and prepared. “It’s important to have equipment ready on time and not take any shortcuts,” Simon states. “Dry years in particular are always going to happen. If we’re able to plan for the dry years and put some money away, hopefully it won’t make the blow so hard.”

The Property Owners: Ross and Simon Cook Location: Hopetoun, Victoria Farm size: 3200 hectares Average annual rainfall: 330mm Growing season rainfall: 254mm Soil types: Sand hills, red loam over limestone Enterprises: Cropping, lamb feedlot Crops grown: Wheat, barley, lentils, canola, oaten hay, vetch hay

QR CODE: To view a small video on the GRDC initiative just scan this QR Code with your smart device to take you to the YouTube site or visit www.grdc.com.au/ managingfrostcook

“Hay is definitely an advantage to us – by the time it’s all cut, raked, baled and stored, it’s all pretty easy – but we would still rather grow grain.” The Cook’s cereals were between booting and head emergence, resulting in stem frost, while the canola had just finished flowering. Besides the vetch and oats which would normally be cut for hay, frosted wheat, barley and even canola were mowed, the rationale being that low-lying ground is cut for hay. This harvest is the first time the Cook family have cut canola for hay. “We had a 70ha paddock of canola which was badly frosted and only ended up getting 140 bales off it, but we had it tested and it came back okay for protein and metabolisable energy,” Simon explains. “When it came time to harvest the grain I was looking at the yield monitor on the header and it would go from almost nothing on the low-lying ground where I had missed cutting any bad patches for hay and then up to 2.5 tonnes a hectare on the sand hills.” This vindicated Simon’s decision to cut as much hay as he did, which ended up totalling about 30% of the program. “By cutting hay we’re getting something back rather than nothing,” he said. “The frost damage was bad enough that I knew there wasn’t going to be any grain yield there.” Frost even caused leaf-burn in some of his oats and they failed to run up to head, meaning they were cut earlier than is ideal for oaten hay. Despite this, much of the Cook’s oaten hay still made export grade. In

The Cooks’ buy in approximately 3000 crossbred lambs annually during spring to graze stubbles and finish in their feedlot. The feedlot has also proved to be a handy outlet for some of the hay cut from frost-damaged crops in 2014.

Simon Cook feeds out hay cut from frost-damaged canola in the family’s lamb feedlot

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The

Mallee Farmer

GRDC national frost initiative The Grains Research & Developement Corporation (GRDC) has long acknowledged the severe implications of frost on crop production and since 1999 has invested about $13.5 million in more than 60 frost-related projects. In 2014, the GRDC established the National Frost Initiative to further increase its frost research. The fiveyear national initiative aims to deliver growers a combination of genetic and management solutions to be combined with tools and information to better predict frost events.

The three-pronged initiative will address: • Genetics – aiming to develop more frost-tolerant wheat and barley germplasm and rank current varieties; • Management – investigating if there are preventive products, stubble and nutrition management practices or other measures that growers could use to reduce the impact of frost; and • Environmental prediction - focusing on predicting the impact of frost on crop yields and mapping it at

the farm scale to enable better risk management. The GRDC project codes for these initiatives are: UA00136, CSP00180, YOU00002, CSP00143, DAW00234, DAW00241, UWA169, UMU0045, UQ00071, CMA00002.

For more information

For more information please contact Francis Ogbonnaya, Senior manager crop genetics, GRDC, on 02 6166 4500, or email francis.ogbonnaya@grdc.com.au

Mapping rabbit and mouse hotspots across the Mallee By Peter West , Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre When you think about pest animals such as rabbits and mice, you might think they are ubiquitous in the landscape, but that’s not usually the case. In the Mallee, both rabbits and mice can thrive, especially where they have abundant food and shelter throughout farming country or even along roadsides. The dry sandy soils across the Victorian Mallee often allow rabbits to build extensive warrens, and mice seem to persist between cropping cycles. Do you know of problem sites for rabbits and mice in your local area? Landholders and communities are being encouraged to get active in mapping rabbits and mice using a free online mapping system called FeralScan, available at www.feralscan.org.au. FeralScan provides an interactive website for landholders, Landcare groups, councils and catchment groups for mapping areas containing pest species. It is an easy-to-use website containing information about pest species, available control techniques, links to other resources, and a map for

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If you see rabbits or rabbit warrens, particularly along roadsides, record this information in RabbitScan at www.feralscan.org.au/rabbitscan. you to record pest activity in your local area. You can enter animal sightings, record the damage they are causing, and even register control activities to show where the problems are being addressed.

Rabbit hotspots identified The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and several Landcare groups are encouraging landholders and communities to map rabbit populations and rabbit warrens across the Mallee. By recording evidence of rabbit activity, hotspots across the landscape can be identified. This data can then be used to decide where control resources are best allocated, to seek funding for rabbit control, or evaluate management decisions. The more data entered, the more useful it will become. If you see rabbits or rabbit warrens, particularly along roadsides, record this information in RabbitScan at www. feralscan.org.au/rabbitscan.

Mouse population monitoring In a three-year study monitoring mouse populations across the grain-belt of Australia, CSIRO rodent researcher Dr Peter Brown and colleague Steve Henry undertook intensive on-farm mouse monitoring in north-western Victoria late in 2014. Their monitoring revealed that mice were in moderate abundance in some small pockets, but they warned that summer rainfall could lead to a dramatic increase in numbers and significant repercussions to crops as they mature, and at the time of sowing. Grain producers and agronomists are also being encouraged to make good use of this monitoring study by regularly monitoring mouse activity; and to record and share information about mouse abundance (present or absence) in a new website called MouseAlert. MouseAlert is an online mapping tool that provides farmers and advisers with a new way of keeping a close eye on changes in mouse populations, and will provide updates on mouse activity


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Mallee Farmer across grain growing regions. MouseAlert and intensive on-farm monitoring data will help with predicting mouse plagues, provide an early warning system, and will assist in a rapid response to mouse problems across the Mallee. Grain producers and agronomists can record mouse activity at www.mousealert.org.au.

Next steps The Mallee CMA and several Landcare groups have become official partners in the RabbitScan project, helping to ensure that farmers and communities across the Mallee region are supported in their management of rabbits. A mobile phone app will soon be available for recording rabbit and mouse activity across the Mallee and beyond.

For more information contact Peter West, E-mail peter.west@invasiveanimals.com

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The

Mallee Farmer

Figure 3: Abundance of root development in and around the organic amendment placed at 30cm at the Hopetoun site.

Innovation in cropping systems project A step towards sustainable soil management

Improved results will be expected coming into the second year and beyond, as biological, physical and chemical properties improve in the subsoil. Further information will be provided as results progress throughout the duration of this project By Darryl Pearl Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Fertile soil is the lifeblood of a productive crop, having a major impact on success or failure. But what makes soil perform well and how can we address issues that arise because of constraints or reduced soil quality? The Innovation in Cropping Systems project is tackling declining soil condition and sub-soil constraints on Victorian cropping soils to try to address long-term productivity, sustainability and profitability. The Australian Government-funded project is focussing on the innovative

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practices of subsoil manuring and controlled traffic farming across priority areas of Victoria. We discussed the project overview in the August 2014 (Issue 07) edition of the Mallee Farmer and in this article we will demonstrate preliminary data after the first growing season. The project has eight Sub Soil Manuring (SSM) sites established across the medium to low rainfall zones of Victoria, with one site in the high rainfall zone. The Weightman-Peries subsoiler (Figure 1) was the machine used to place the organic amendment (manures or compost) material into the subsoil (either into or sitting on the clay horizon) or, as is the case in Ouyen, into sand at depth. The subsoil zones are generally sodic - tight clays that limit water infiltration and root development

throughout the growing season. The sites were established before the 2014 cropping season and will be monitored for at least two growing seasons. During the growing season, plant and soil samples were taken and observations made. While the crop data is yet to be processed, visual observations such as plant height, crop colour and root growth show differences. The field sampling data in Table 1 shows the preliminary results from plant cuts taken at the Hopetoun and Ouyen sites just before harvest. Due to its heavier soil type, the Hopetoun site was pre-ripped so that the Weightman-Peries subsoiler could place the material more effectively into the subsoil. The farmer was also interested in having just a ripped site to see if there would be any long term benefits


While the crop data is yet to be processed, visual observations such as plant height, crop The colour and root growth show differences. The field sampling data in Table 1 shows the preliminary results from plant cuts taken at the Hopetoun and Ouyen sites just before harvest.

Mallee Farmer

Winter Location

Treatment

Hopetoun

SSM

Ouyen

Harvest

Est. Plant Biomass (t/ha)

Est. Dry Weight (t/ha)

Tillers (per m2)

Heads (per m2)

Est. Grain Yield (t/ha)

5.66

2.16

278

225

Ripped (no SSM) Control

2.9

3.31 2.54

348 288

302 247

1.23 0.86

SSM Control

3.29 1.45

5.75 1.96

147 98

126 58

1.6 0.3

0.65

Table 1 Results from plant cuts during the season on the two northern sites

Table 1 Results from plant cuts during the season on the two northern sites

in this treatment. In this first year, the ripping alone has had an effect on crop Due tohowever, its heavier soil type, production; it is expected that the Hopetoun site was pre-ripped so that the Weightman-Peries this subsoiler will be short lived. could place the material more effectively into the subsoil. The farmer was also

interested having a ripped site to see if there would be any long term benefits in this During winter and in early spring, just visual evidence of improved plant biomass withthe ripping alone has had an effect on crop production; however, treatment. In this first year, the SSM treatment was clearly seen it istheexpected that2this will across sites, as Figure shows for be short lived. Hopetoun. This is reflected in improved plant biomass across the sites (Table 1). The dry finish severely impacted on the potential of the crop to perform at harvest. With the addition of organic material into the subsoil, it is expected that the ripped affect will be maintained and enhanced. Improved soil structure and greater root matter biomass is likely to develop deep into the profile over time as a result of higher root activity developing annually. Figure 3 illustrates the abundance of root development into and through the organic amendment placed at a 30cm

Figure 2: Improved early crop vigour where the SSM treatment (left) has occurred compared to the control (right).

depth of tight clay, as compared to the surrounding area where no displacement has occurred. Improved results will be expected coming into the second year and beyond, as biological, physical and chemical properties improve in the subsoil. Further information will be provided as results progress throughout the duration of this project.

For more information

Contact Darryl Pearl at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Irymple on 5051 4500.

Figure 1: The Weightman-Peries subsoiler used to deep place organic amendment into the subsoil.

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Aspiring agronomist grows his skills and career at SuniTAFE “[Harvesting] can be really busy and tiring, but when you look back it is enjoyable. You can walk away with a smile – assuming it is a good year.” By Xana Bittar & Nicola Vaughan Adapted from an article published in the Swan Hill Guardian Growing up on the family farm, Lalbert’s Harrison (Harry) Allen always knew he wanted to work in the agricultural industry. As a high school student at Swan Hill College, he jumped at the opportunity to complement his education by enrolling in the agricultural VET in Schools course offered by the college at SuniTAFE. Completing Year 12 in 2014, Harry is now a proud graduate of both Swan Hill College and SuniTAFE. Shane O’Shannassy, rural trades teacher at SuniTAFE, taught Harry for two years in the SuniTAFE program. Incorporating the assistance of partners such as local agents Brady, Runciman & Coady, Shane directed the class to investigate crop diseases and plant health, frost damage and soil structure. “Harry showed a real passion for basic agronomy,” Shane said. Harry’s performance over the course was so impressive that he was awarded the Primary Industries Award VET Excellence award at the Murray Mallee LLEN - VET in Schools (VETiS) Student Excellence Awards. “I was confident that I had a chance,” he said, “It’s really exciting that I did win.” Growing up on his family’s 9000 acre farm, Harry learned first-hand about farming. There the Allen family grow wheat, barley and legumes and keep sheep as livestock. “It’s given me a jump start, to have that knowledge in my mind,” he said. Completing the course cemented his passion and interest in agriculture as “a great industry to get into, with so many different pathways to take”. Straight after completing his exams,

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Kristy Parkes presenting Harrison Allen with the Pearson’s Grain Primary Industries Award at the Murray Mallee LLEN VET in Schools (VETiS) Student Excellence Awards event, November 2014

Harry went back home to jump into harvest, finishing off just before the end of last year. “[Harvesting] can be really busy and tiring, but when you look back it is enjoyable. You can walk away with a smile – assuming it is a good year,” he said. Now that he has graduated from SuniTAFE, Harry has applied to study Applied Agricultural Sciences in Melbourne. The big move to the city won’t be so daunting as he has family in Melbourne. After he completes his course, he hopes to return to Swan Hill and work in agronomy. “I enjoy the lifestyle also as much as the work” he said “There is a lot of space to work in. While there are limitations of living out in the country you overall appreciate what you have.”

For more information

To learn more about SuniTAFE contact: 1300 4 SUNITAFE or visit a SuniTAFE campus at Mildura, Swan Hill, Robinvale or Ouyen. www.sunitafe.edu.au


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Mallee Farmer

Low uptake of controlled traffic farming in the Mallee They took to no-till like ducks to water but research suggests Mallee farmers are not taking the next step and embracing controlled traffic farming. By Darryl Pearl, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources A new Grains Research & Developement Corporation (GRDC) funded project Application of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) in the Low Rainfall Zone will aim to answer the question “Why has the uptake of CTF within Victorian Mallee, South Australian Mallee, Eyre Peninsula and south-west New South Wales been so low?” Data has shown that there has been approximately four per cent uptake of the practice in the LRZ as compared to 26 percent in other rainfall zones. The project, which is being led by the Australian Controlled Traffic Farming Association (ACTFA) will aim to answer this question over the next five years. Key partners in the project are the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), South Australian Research Development Institute, Southern Precision Agriculture Association and four farming system groups. The project will investigate CTF through research, development and extension activities. Four research sites will be located across the region on the key soil types of the low rainfall zone from

which detailed plant and soil information will be collected and analysed. The development and extension components will work closely with local landholders and farming system groups to examine the questions that farmers have raised around CTF in the low rainfall zone. For example, some of the common queries raised have been: • Will compaction be reduced in the soils of the low rainfall zone and therefore improve plant performance? • Do CTF farmers save on power and energy? • Will the low rainfall zones see the benefits of the system in timeliness and uniformity? The project has recently commenced, with planning and establishment of the four research sites almost complete. Development and extension discussions with the local farming system groups have also begun. The project will work with Mallee Sustainable Farming, Birchip Cropping Group, Minnipa Ag Centre, Central West farming system group and Upper North farming system group, and there is the opportunity to engage with landholders through other groups if the interest arises. Darryl Pearl of DEDJTR is managing the development and extension component of the project.

consider proposals from other groups,” he said. “ Anything that helps answer the questions around the concerns that low rainfall zone farmers have in regards to CTF may be considered for support from the project”. This could include concerns such as: • The costs to get all the machinery on the same wheel track; • Whether conversion would add extra work with little or no return; and, • Whether CTF would increase soil erosion potential in the wheel tracks themselves.

For more information

Contact Darryl Pearl on 03 5051 4531 or email darryl.pearl@ecodev.vic.gov.au

“While we will look to work with the five farmer groups on the development and extension of the project, we would

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The

Mallee Farmer

Wheat yield predicted to drop as temperatures rise Computer models show global wheat production could fall six per cent for every one degree Celsius temperature rise under climate change. By Simone Dalton, Media and Communications Adviser Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources In a world-wide study published online in Nature Climate Change, scientists including Victoria’s Garry O’Leary from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) argue that not only will production drop under higher temperatures but the losses will become more variable. The work involved comparing 30 simulation crop models against field experiments where crops were grown at mean temperatures ranging from 15 to 32 degrees Celsius. The team comprises members from all major wheat producing countries and forms part of the International Agricultural Model Inter-comparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP 1). Lead scientist Dr Senthold Asseng from the University of Florida stated, “For every one degree Celsius increase in global mean temperature, there is potentially a reduction in global wheat production of about six per cent.” Dr Asseng noted that with 701 million tonnes of wheat produced in 2012, this equated to a 42 million tonnes reduction in production per extra degree of temperature. “To put this into perspective, it is equal to about one quarter of the global wheat trade, which reached 147 million tonnes in 2013,” he said. By ground-truthing models with experimental field data, scientists had shown that wheat yield declines due to temperature increases are likely to be larger than previously thought and are likely to begin taking effect earlier than expected with only small temperature increases. While there was significant variation between the models, a range of between 4.2 per cent and 8.2 per cent

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loss per one degree Celsius increase would not be unexpected. “This modelling study provides a comprehensive global temperature impact assessment for wheat production. There are several adaptation options to counter the adverse effects of climate change on global wheat production and for some regions this will be critical,” Dr Asseng said.

crop traits, nitrogen management, grain quality and pests and diseases under higher carbon dioxide and high temperature events and using their findings to identify and begin solving future challenges now. We will use their results to not only produce a better idea of future impacts but primarily to help develop some potential solutions to ensure a productive, profitable and sustainable cropping future.”

Dr Garry O’Leary from Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resouces

Field trials for modelling the effects of climate change.

According to Dr O’Leary the Australian models performed well but not in all tests and no single model of the 30 trialled was shown to be superior. “The idea of comparing models against measured data is not new, however this is probably the largest modelling network in the world allowing our Australian scientists access to millions of dollars’ worth of unpublished experimental data,” he explained. Dr O’Leary related how Australian scientists were working to better understand the impacts of elevated carbon dioxide through the AGFACE project (Australian Grains Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment), based at Horsham. “Rising carbon dioxide levels will increasingly impact grain yield, quality and profitability and AGFACE is researching the extent of this impact so that the grains industry can better prepare for the future,” he said. “AGFACE scientists are testing

The AgMIP programme was developed in 2011 in collaboration by NASA, the US Department of Agriculture, The University of Columbia and the University of Florida and is working with important global food crops like wheat, maize and sugarcane and soil productivity including global economics and trade. Australia is represented by CSIRO and Victoria’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

For more information

Contact the Horsham Office of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources on 5362 2111.


LANDCARE LINKS

Autumn 2015

Getting the job done - The strength of Landcare

by Kevin Chaplin

In the first six months alone of this financial year the total combined value of grants received by Mallee Landcare groups was in excess of $630,000!! This amount is only taking into account the amounts received from State and Federal Government programs. This does not include anything that groups may have

received from other local government programs, private organisations or philanthropic funding sources. So, as you can see, Landcare in the Mallee is proactively securing funding and getting results. Groups such as Benetook Chooks are really thinking outside of the box by helping people with severe intellectual and physical disabilities get involved within their communities by creating their own Landcare group that caters for their needs while getting them actively involved in local environmental activities. The Eastern Mallee Consortium have highlighted an emerging issue of the disposal of used bulk grain storage bags. Currently, once used, these bags become a real litter problem with many of them ending up in the roadside scrub or in other farmers

paddocks where they become a hazard to machinery and stock. These groups have decided to band together and do something about it. They researched the issue, decided on a plan of action and then obtained a machine that can ‘bale’ these bags up so as they can then be transported to a recycling plant. Further information on both these great initiatives can be found inside this issue. Landcare is ever evolving and adapting to local issues and concerns, and the stories in this edition of Landcare Links demonstrate beautifully the level of passion, commitment and initiative that our Landcare groups have in the Mallee and how no obstacle is too great, be it natural or man-made. It is, as it always has been, a case of see a problem, fix it and lets just ‘get the job done’.

South Eastern Mallee News Landcare groups in the south eastern Mallee region have had a productive finish to 2014 and carry an enthusiastic approach to the year ahead. Successful grant applications, a positive outlook towards challenges and progressive action are all present themes as this region moves out of 2014 and into 2015.

environment as well as improving farming productivity in this region.

Successful Grants

A total of $84,816 has been allocated through the Victorian Landcare Grants program to tackle roadside rabbits in the Berriwillock, Birchip, Culgoa, Lalbert, Nullawil and Ultima Landcare areas. Lalbert and Birchip will also be tackling Boxthorn, Wheel Cactus and Bridal Creeper infestations within Buloke woodlands in these projects.

Quite a number of grant applications have been successful in this region. Birchip, Culgoa, Berriwillock, Lalbert, Nullawil and Ultima Landcare groups have all received funding; their enthusiasm in lodging applications is very encouraging. Victorian Landcare and 25th Anniversary National Landcare applications were successfully submitted throughout the consortium to enhance and protect the natural

Rabbit ripping and weed eradication are again prominent project ideas, indicating both a need to tackle this ever present issue and an awareness among groups that these issues continually need addressing.

The National Landcare 25th Anniversary Grants allocated $22,000 of funding to both the Culgoa and Nullawil Landcare Groups

by Paul Mock

for rabbit management works relating to the protection and enhancement of Buloke woodlands. This is a significant investment to tackle a widespread and important environmental issue. February has seen the majority of these rabbit and weed eradication projects get underway across the consortium area.

www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Well, what an issue of Landcare Links we have for you this time! This issue is chock full of inspiring stories about what is happening in Landcare across our beautiful Mallee region and how it’s really making a difference. From fighting pests such as Cactus and Boxthorn and that eternal furry nuisance, the infamous European rabbit, through to innovative ideas that are helping to deal with waste grain storage bags, they are all wonderful examples of how Landcare is continuing to ‘get the job done’.

Recognition of Richard Ferrier’s service to Landcare Richard Ferrier’s extensive long term contribution to the Birchip Landcare Group’s activities was recognised and highlighted with the presentation of a framed collage of photographs of rare and endangered species from the area. Richard has worked tirelessly to capture thousands of photographs at various project locations

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LANDCARE LINKS

Autumn 2015

such as the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Wetland sites. Through detailed analysis of these photographs, many rare and endangered species have been observed and documented. The passion Richard shows for his photographic pursuits is inspiring.

Commemorative signs for Jack Loughran Commemorative signs dedicated to the late Jack Loughran will be erected at the completed revegetation site on Cockum Road. Jack was instrumental in the development and implementation of a number of revegetation sites around the Lalbert area. These signs will commemorate the significant involvement and investment of time and money Jack has committed to a very worthy environmental cause.

Presentation to Richard by the president of the Birchip Landcare group, Mary Fielding.

Watchem Lake water health day Being aware of environmental issues is very important for rural communities dependant on the land. Educational activities and information sessions are powerful tools in providing accurate and current information, in addition to making it fun. Last October, I took a water health education day to Watchem Lake for students from the Birchip P-12 school. This fascinating day focussed on the health of a waterbody based on the organisms living in the water. Selecting samples from Watchem Lake, students learned how to identify macroinvertebrates and analyse water pollution. Samples were assessed for species, species were assessed for sensitivity to pollution. Students learned the greater the abundance of sensitive organisms found, the cleaner waterbody was deemed to be. It was an interesting day at a lovely location. Students and teachers enjoyed themselves thoroughly. If you would like a water health day to be presented for your school, please contact your local Landcare Facilitator to arrange this.

Social Media Our Facebook page called ‘Mallee Regional Landcare Network’ is gaining some momentum, with 240 current members. This site provides information about Landcare activities in our region, including promotion of educational and community events such as fishing competitions. I encourage you all to take a moment to look at it and feel free to contribute at any time.

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Watchem Lake School Activity


South Western Mallee News

by Paul Mock

It is with great cheer that we welcome

targeted rabbit management program.

allocated to assist in the rejuvenation and

in the new Landcare facilitator for the

Each group received $9,938 for baiting

restroration of this artificial wetland. The

South Western Mallee, Tahlia Searle and

and ripping activities with funding

project works will clean out and modify

we would like to thank and farewell

obtained from the Victorian Government

drainage lines, enlarge the catchment

Chris Harrington, who has returned to

Communities for Nature Program.

pond and revegetate the wetlands. This

the Daylesford area.

To expand on their rabbit management

The Landcare groups across the South

programs, Woomelang/Lascelles and

Western Mallee have recently been

Beulah Landcare Groups have both

successful in attracting funding for new

received an even share in $44,000 to

projects through initiatives such as

dedicate to rabbit ripping along roadsides.

Communities for Nature grants, Victorian

With funding attained from the National

Landcare Grants and the National

Landcare 25th Anniversary Grants program,

Landcare 25th Anniversary Grants. Well

these works are specifically targeted to

done to Hopetoun, Rainbow and District,

protect native Mallee woodlands which

Woomelang/Lascelles and Beulah Landcare

provide important habitat for native fauna

groups for putting together some fantastic

as well as an aesthetically appealing

project proposals and excellent applications

addition to the community.

under challenging conditions.

Erosion control and water filtration is the

A total of $39,752 was awarded to fund

focus of an exciting project at the Yaapeet

a collaborative consortium rabbit baiting

wetlands. Funded through the Victorian

project across all four groups, as part of

Landcare Grants Program, $5,387 has been

will enable stormwater runoff from the township to be directed to a catchment pond, while the water is naturally filtered through reed beds and a natural silt trap. The wetlands will provide a habitat for native birds and aquatic organisms, and an aesthetically pleasing recreation area in Yaapeet. This water point will also be made available for use by the CFA, The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria for emergency services requirements. All projects have commenced and are anticipated to be completed by December, 2015.

An introduction from your new facilitator By Tahlia Searle

Hi there, I’m Tahlia Serle and I am originally from the evergreen Corangamite region of Victoria. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Colac before I made the big move to Melbourne to undertake a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree at Latrobe University.

I’m very excited to start working alongside the Landcare Groups in the south western Mallee area. Having the opportunity to assist the local groups with their sustainable agriculture projects will allow me to draw from what I’ve learnt at university and really utilise the contacts I’ve

Although I had no farming ties in Colac, I was very fortunate to have formed a

made while studying.

strong bond with my grandparents who are

I think that Tim Minchin summed it up best

broadacre cropping farmers in the Mallee

in an address he gave at his graduation

region of Victoria. Every school holidays we

at UWA “Be a teacher. Even if you’re not

would make the 4½ hour trip up to Yaapeet

a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas.

to spend time with Pa & Grandma on the

Don’t take for granted your education.

family farm. My interest in agriculture

Rejoice in what you learn, and spray it.”

has blossomed from these childhood

This is something I will aspire to do while

experiences and is what drove me to

I’m in the Local Landcare Facilitator role

further my education in the area.

and I look forward working with you all.

Since graduating in 2013, I’ve managed a

I was very fortunate to hear about the

high volume specialty coffee café located

South Western Mallee Local Landcare

at LaTrobe University. After 3 years of

Facilitator position, based out of the

working there, I decided that it was time to

Hopetoun DELWP office that was vacant at

see if I was better at something else other

the time and was lucky enough to secure

than pulling espresso shots and banking.

the role.

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LANDCARE LINKS

Autumn 2015

The Chicken Scoop - Benetook Chooks Landcare Group, laying the foundation by Nicola Vaughan Having established firm foundations, one of Sunraysia’s most unique Landcare group’s is actively contributing to the community, and reaping the benefits. The campaign Landcare Is For Everyone (L.I.F.E.) has hit a home run for the clients of Sunraysia Residential Services (SRS) who form the membership of Benetook Chooks Landcare Group. The group’s base is the SRS Benetook Chooks hobby farm where the focus is interacting with the earth. Here they care for laying hens, cultivate veggie patches and propagate native plants for community projects. The group are looking to the future at how they can contribute to local environmental projects. Their free range eggs are for sale at the property.

Sunraysia Residential Services is a notfor-profit community organisation that has been providing individualised support for people with a disability and their families since 1976. For the clients of SRS, through engaging as a Landcare group, they have the opportunity to be involved in conservation and contribute back to the community. When initially purchased, the Benetook Chooks property was nothing more than a bare block with a dilapidated house. In the past 18 months, financial support has been received from a range of charities and community donations to achieve accessibility for all participants. Without this wonderful support the land would still be bare. Works have been undertaken to

refurbish the house, develop a hothouse and connect an irrigation system, establish productive vegetable patches, and build a chicken coup and paddocks capable of housing up to 1000 free ranging chooks. The first 49 chooks have settled in and are laying wonderful healthy eggs, while the foundations for the ‘Mildura Lions Magic’ maze has commenced. A propagation shed made from poly pipe fitted with an irrigation system and shelving has been established and is assisting in the propagation of native plants. The appointment of Michael Marks as Farm Manager and the purchase of a tractor have greatly improved the ability to develop the site in 2015. Transforming the block into productive land is only a part of the vision. As a Landcare Group, Benetook Chooks see the opportunity to contribute to the biodiversity of Sunraysia. The group are propagating native plants in their hothouse to contribute to revegetation of projects in the community. They hope to extend themselves across many other projects as their skills and numbers increase. The social enterprise of the Landcare group involves giving participants the opportunity to learn new skills and provides training towards employment. They gain experience in establishing garden beds, propagating plants, raising seedlings, composting, watering, weeding, pruning, transplanting and are organising accredited training encompassing environment electives. Benetook Chooks Landcare Group are inviting volunteers from the wider community to work alongside the participants on a variety of projects from gathering eggs and caring for the chooks, to seed collection, propagation to planting out the trees. Benetook Chooks Landcare Group is a wonderful experience, and a marvellous project to get involved in. All necessary training is provided. If this sounds like a project you would like to be involved in, please drop into the farm at 1022 Benetook Ave Mildura or call farm manager Michael Marks on 0427 303 432.

Clients of SRS and members of Benetook Chooks working in their preparation shed.

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Northern Mallee News

by Nicola Vaughan

Facilitator noun One that facilitates; especially: one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision Merriam Webster Dictionary In the Northern Mallee, the Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative has delivered considerable rewards for Landcare groups -- much has been achieved and learned as a result.

Yelta Landcare group members hard at work at Merbein West

The past three years have seen the Northern Mallee Landcare Consortium grow considerably, from four Landcare groups to twice that number. Originally consisting of Yelta Landcare Group, Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group, Kulkyne Way Landcare Group and Red Cliffs Junior Landcare Group, we have had the formation of Benetook Chooks Landcare group, Cabarita Inc., and Lindsay Point Landcare Group. In addition, the urban group Mildura West Incorporated has diversified itself into a Landcare group and we have seen the school based Red Cliffs Junior Landcare group expand to become the Red Cliffs and District Community Landcare group. While the number of groups within the consortium has grown, these groups have also developed strong relationships with each other. This has empowered groups to take collective action on issues affecting more than one area, to apply for funding in a consistent manner and provide easy access to tools and information. An excellent example is the formation of a community working group, driven by Landcare groups in the greater Mallee, to guide the development of Mildura Rural City Council’s Roadside Pest Management Plan. In my view, one of the most important tools delivered by the Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative has been the development of an action plan for each Landcare group. These five-year group action plans have provided direction and substantiation to each group’s goals, assets and threats. The plans provide a format for groups to elucidate their purpose and

Students learn all about threatened species at the Mildura Show

strategic objectives, set short to medium objectives, track the progress of current projects and provide structure for group governance. Each plan provides a thorough analysis of the Landcare area covered, detailing landscape assets such as the bioregions, ecological vegetation classes and their bioregional conservation status. Threatened flora and fauna species and ecological communities listed for protection are identified, while present wetlands, soil composition and cultural heritage assets are described. Threats to the Landcare group area are also characterised, such as pest plant and animals, salinity and erosion. Utilising online mapping tools and biodiversity atlases, the information provided is specific and comprehensive,

delivering Landcare groups an excellent foundation from which to prepare project bids for funding. However, like all tools, the action plan is only as useful as it is used and requires maintenance to track progress and update biodiversity information. Ultimately, the Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative is a tool for Landcare: strengthening groups by generating links and connections; providing assistance with strategic planning, funding applications, and group governance; facilitating access to resources, workshops, field days and supporting the on-ground delivery of Landcare projects. In the northern Mallee, this tool has been well utilised and the results show in the growth of and achievements of the Landcare groups.

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LANDCARE LINKS

Autumn 2015

How technology is helping to tell by Kevin Chaplin, the Landcare story Regional Landcare Coordinator With the majority of Mallee Landcare groups having a high proportion of dryland farmers, adoption of new technology is very much par for the course for members when it comes to running an agricultural business. Hence the leap from using technology in their business to using it for community capacity building and on-ground project management with a Landcare group is not entirely foreign and members are actively interested in doing so.

electronically guides/drives the tractor for them in a perfectly straight line! All they have to do is to remember to manually over-ride the guidance system, turn the tractor around once they have reached the end of their run, hit a button and then sit back and let the guidance system take over again! Look Ma ‘no hands’!!! Needless to say though, a few fences have taken a bit of a beating over the years, particularly when the operator happens to be distracted or falls asleep!!

Farmers in the Mallee have been using Geographical Information systems (GIS) and Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) for a number of years now with their farm machinery. This cutting edge technology allows them to sow grain crops at a precise depth (+ 5mm accuracy) and row width (+ 2cm accuracy), along with variable rate application of seed and fertiliser volumes managed by ‘in tractor’ computers containing GIS mapping of soil type and fertility levels.

With the latest GIS and GPS technology becoming more common and affordable, Landcare groups are capitalising on these wonderful tools by using them to plan, implement and report on their projects and activities. This ultimately helps them tell their story and demonstrate their achievements to a greater audience. We all know that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and this is no more evident than when a Landcare group documents their activities using tools such as Google Earth or Quantum GIS in conjunction with hand held GPS units. An example of this is demonstrated below:

We even have the situation now where the operators of these machines don’t even need to steer their tractors, as they are using real time GPS technology that

Here, six Landcare groups have worked

Map showing the large area treated for rabbits around lake Tyrrell by six landcare groups in 2013

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together to address the issue of roadside rabbit infestations in native vegetation in the central Mallee. While all groups had applied for project funding independently, they then conducted their works in a cooperative manner, so as to further enhance each group’s effectiveness and over-all impact on the rabbit populations around the eastern edge of Lake Tyrrell. By using GIS mapping, they were able to identify where each group was planning to target their on-ground works and then identify the border areas where the next group could continue on so as to add value to each other’s project and became a truly landscape-scale approach. The area outlined in green encompasses an area of over 301,200 hectares in total! This is also a good example of Landcare groups using GPS technology when conducting on-ground control works by recording every warren treated with a hand-held GPS unit. These records show up as dots on the GIS map overlay. This sort of recording or monitoring allows the groups to do two things: firstly it provides solid evidence that works have been conducted and secondly highlights areas of concern for groups by identifying ‘hot spots’ or


areas of high infestation that they will need to keep a close eye on. The background imagery in this case is aerial imagery from 2009 but the map produced uses a very expensive program called ArcGis. In the last six months the Regional Landcare Coordinator, based in the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, has been working closely with groups to help them get access to free software and imagery that looks and works just as well as, and in some cases better, than costly programs such as ArcGis . By having both the software and the training to use it, groups are now in the position to provide comprehensive reports back to their communities. This helps support their promotion of on-going works and continues the active engagement of their members.

Technology involving telecommunications has also started to take off. Almost gone are the days when groups would rely solely on a notice in the local milkbar, newspaper or public notice board to inform the community about an up-coming meeting or event. Now days, SMS is the preferred method as almost everyone has a mobile phone and this is resulting in a better response and participation rate amongst members and non-members alike. Not only are announcements made but follow-up reminders (up to an hour or so before the event) help encourage members to attend where they may otherwise forget. Online tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are slowly being implemented but as the population base of the Mallee tends to be largely of an older demographic,

these methods are not used as much as they are in other areas of the state. Having said that, the Mallee Regional Landcare Network does have a Facebook page and it receives regular interest from people all around the country. Groups are constantly on the look-out for new tools and techniques that will help them better engage their greater communities and make life easier. Things like teleconferencing and video conferencing via your home computer using Skype or Google+ are starting to be used but use is very limited at this stage; however, they do offer a very viable solution to the problem of holding meetings for small groups of people spread over a vast area, as is the case in the Mallee.

New Landcare group for those interested in managing land for conservation By Fiona Murdoch, Kulkyne Way Landcare Group My husband Phil and I manage 500 hectares of land on the northern end of Hattah Kulkyne National Park for conservation. So I love driving around and having a look at how others are managing their conservation properties. I like it even better when I can talk to the landowners, find out what ideas they have, what has worked on their property and more importantly what hasn’t. For me, that is where the best inspiration comes from. While there are some fabulous programs offered by organisations like Trust for Nature (TfN) that offer the chance to get together with like-minded other property owners, I felt we were really missing out in north-west Victoria when the TfN “Spring into Nature” events program came out late last year, and there were no properties in the Wimmera or the Mallee represented. With this as my inspiration, I sought the help of TfN and Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), and sent letters to each covenant holder in the Mallee catchment, inviting them to be part of a new Landcare group. This group is especially for people interested in managing private land for conservation, so they can share ideas, inspiration and equipment. Because this group is under

Phil’s barbed wire sculpture

the auspice of an established membership base, Kulkyne Way Landcare Group, the group can apply for grants for landholders to carry out works on their own land. I was pleased with the interest shown, there are eight properties spread across the Mallee from Birchip to Meringur. Our very first get-together was a walk and

gawk at our place on the 14 March. Thanks to federal biodiversity funding, we have built a fence to help manage grazing pressure from kangaroos. It’s a pretty interesting design that we are keen to share with our new friends (more on that next issue).

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Autumn 2015

So, what sorts of innovative ideas might be passed around this new group? Well, here are a few Phil has come up with that might be useful to others.

Low impact ripper After a few years of thinking, and painstakingly slow progress at ripping rabbit warrens with a single tyne ripper, Phil came up with an offset ripping tyne. This allows him to reverse the tractor in under bushes and trees to rip the warren effectively with as little impact on the vegetation as possible.

a tonne, literally, they are pretty much are stuck in the spot where he finished them, so if you are considering making some you might want to start in the spot you wish your final artworks to be!

Introducing our new bait layer We are very excited about our new Landcare piece of equipment. Pictured is the new bait layer recently purchased by the Kulkyne Way Landcare Group. It lays oat baits in furrows for rabbit control. Considering integrated rabbit control

comprises: baiting in the summer/autumn, ripping warrens, follow up with fumigation of reopened warrens and spotlight shooting. Having a bait layer for members to hire will make integrated rabbit control easier and cheaper for everyone. For more information or to join the Kulkyne Way Landcare Group and new covenant conservationist subgroup, please contact Fiona Murdoch on 5029 1404 or famurdoch@gmail.com

Pilling rabbits With the growing safety concerns around pressure fumigators, we worked on developing a method of safely delivering Phostoxin tablets deep into a rabbit warren. Phil found the use of a tube improved safety. He simply puts the tablet into the tube, positions the tube into the entrance hole, and fills the hole with dirt. He then pokes some wet paper into the tube (on top of the tablet) allowing the tablet to be released deep into the warren, and finally removes the tube. The water doesn’t contact the tablet until it is underground, preventing the tablet from releasing fumes above ground, making this safer for the operator.

Precision weed control Don’t tell anyone, but we have a problem with Pattersons Curse in our open grasslands. Every year for the last ten years we have sprayed the stuff and there is a huge reduction in the density of plants, but they still spread out over the same area. This means we still have to cover the country thoroughly even though there is very little to spray. Richard Ferrier gave us a great tip for covering large distances and visually seeing where you have been. A mini foam marker can be modelled from a 12 volt bicycle pump, for use in conjunction with our sprayboom attached to the four wheel motorbike. After a number of attempts, Phil has fashioned a little beauty...it leaves blobs of pink foam so that Phil can see where he has been, so clever.

Now what do we do with it!

"Come on Dad!! You can do it, there's only three miles to go!!"

Bait layer

Barbed wire One of our first jobs when we purchased our bush block was to have the top barbed wire removed from the fences. There was literally kilometres of the stuff. What to do with it? Tapping into the artistic side of his brain, Phil created these sculptured wire balls. He first saw them on a property near Swan Hill (Spewa Island) during the 2011 floods. They look fantastic. Weighing

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Our spray unit with the new foam marker

Rabbit ripper


Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium takes on large grain bag recycling issue by Kim Cross The Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium, with support from Landcare Australia was successful in receiving funding from Citipower and Powercor for the purchase of an air powered compacting machine to assist with the recycling of plastics, cardboard and, in particular, large grain bags. During my three year term as the Local Landcare Facilitator I have been working with Landcare group members to find an efficient, environmentally friendly option to recycling. Large grain bags, plastics and cardboard are often seen littering the landscape across the Mallee. With limited local recycling options available, the Landcare groups have sought to find a solution.

The machine is easily transportable

A portable compacter is an excellent option to assist Landcare and community groups in recycling large volumes of material, reducing waste in local landfills. The air compressor powered machine compacts cardboard and plastics. It is capable of compacting bales of large plastic grain bags of up to 310 kilograms in weight. Being portable, it fits easily to a trailer. Connections with nearby recycling agencies allow Landcare and community groups to effectively arrange for collection of the compacted materials.

Demonstration of the compactor at work

A training session was held with support from the Mallee Catchment Management Authority at Manangatang in October 2014. Landcare members gathered to undertake training including that of safe operating procedures, troubleshooting, maintenance and self-servicing procedures. The day was a huge success with participants compacting approximately one tonne of large grain bags. With such a large volume of grain bags continually being used in this region, methods for compiling these into a bundle for efficiency prior to compacting need to be explored. The training day provided an opportunity for landholders to take the initiative in trialling different approaches to rolling up high volumes of large bags. Landholders and Landcare groups are continuing to investigate innovative ideas

A small sample of what is a large problem

for this process and developing them further. The consortium is at present preparing to fix their new machine to a trailer permanently to ensure it can be easily and safely transported to different locations.

For more information about the compactor, please contact the Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium Facilitator Kim Cross on 0427 883 100 or email kim.cross@delwp.vic.gov.au.

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Autumn 2015

Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative 2012-2015 By Kim Cross ‘Engage, Motivate, Celebrate’ With the 2012-2015 Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative drawing to a close this is the time to celebrate community and Landcare volunteering efforts. The program has successfully supported active Eastern Mallee Landcare group members to become armed with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in their small communities while promoting the ethos of Landcare to the broader community. Over the last three and a half years the Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium has successfully encompassed the vision of the Mallee Regional Landcare Support Strategy 2013-18: “Informed and active communities balancing the use of resources to generate wealth, with the protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural landscapes”. This has helped strengthen the presence and influence of Landcare within the respective communities. Employed by the Eastern Mallee Consortium and auspiced through the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, my role as a Landcare Facilitator over the past three years has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to work directly with volunteer Landcare and community groups. No two days are ever the same, from supporting the needs of women in agriculture with local events, through to being involved with a wide variety of Landcare projects across 400,000 hectares. This has ensured an enjoyable, ever-changing work environment. Regular meetings with both government and non-government agencies provided me with the tools to help bridge the gap between NRM agencies and the regional community, and help improve how NRM services are delivered across the region. This has been evident with recent pest rabbit compliance programs resulting in a significant reduction of pest rabbit populations across the Eastern Mallee. It has also helped develop effective and ongoing communication between landholders and government departments.

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Nyah districts Primary School students help out at the Nyah West planting day.

One of the most challenging factors within my role has been the steady population decline across the Eastern Mallee. The need to invest time and energy into supporting the key drivers within these small communities and provide groups with direction and access to resources and knowledge has, at times, proven to be quite considerable. Building networks and relationships with community hubs has further supported this platform and the momentum is now at a point where volunteers across multiple groups and communities are working collaboratively to successfully manage our valuable natural resources. Collaboration has been the key element in the resurgence of Landcare groups over the past three years and as a result, groups are becoming more creative and innovative when delivering on-ground projects such as revegetation; recycling; pest plant and animal control; salinity management; sustainable agriculture; community capacity building; environmental protection; and cultural heritage protection. Across the Eastern Mallee these actions have directly supported the regeneration of remnant vegetation that forms part of the ‘Buloke Woodlands of the Riverina and Murray-Darling Depression Bioregions’

community, along with areas listed on the Australian Directory of Important Wetlands along the Murray River floodplain. In particular, projects have benefitted areas such as the floodplains located in Robinvale north of Lake Powell; Belsar Island State Forest; Tyrrell Creek and Lake Tyrrell near Sea Lake; Heywoods Lake near Kooloonong; Lake Timboram and Lalbert Creek near Waitchie. All these areas provide significant refuge for local flora and fauna and are highly valued by the community. Eastern Mallee Landcare groups have successfully helped protect native habitats in the Eastern Mallee for local threatened and vulnerable flora such as Yellow Swainson-pea and Striate Spikesedge, along with habitat for local fauna such as Malleefowl, Regent Parrot, and the Growling Grass Frog. It is only through the dedicated efforts of local volunteers undertaking on-ground works to control pests and to support flora and fauna assessments that these outcomes have been achieved, aided by the assistance and support of the Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative. During 2014, I have had the pleasure to work with the newly formed Robinvale Indigenous Landcare Group to actively


Lions Club “Master Chefs” cooked the BBQ at the Nyah West planting day

Landcare and community members learn about the latest control methods for prickly pear cactus.

seek funding, develop promotional material and undertake on-ground Landcare projects in and around the township of Robinvale. The passing on of traditional ecological knowledge, protection of local environmental assets, and preservation of areas of cultural significance are all group priorities. I look forward to watching the group grow and achieve great things in the coming years. I am very thankful to everyone who has supported me within my facilitation role over the last three years and without the support from Mallee Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, local government staff, Landcare members and community volunteers I would not have been able to successfully complete all the objectives under the Landcare Facilitator program. I am proud to be a part of a program that has helped dedicated volunteers achieve positive change and supported Landcare groups to become self-sustaining, proactive and formidable leaders in natural resource management in the Mallee. The facilitator program has demonstrated its value for the survival of Landcare groups and associated small communities by supporting and empowering volunteers to pave the way for their local community to build a healthy social, economic and

Aunty Rose from Robinvale Indigenous Landcare Group

environmentally sustainable future for all.

Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium Successful Grants 2015 During 2014/15 Landcare groups in the Eastern Mallee have continued to be successful in applying for funds for their projects. The control of rabbit populations continues to remain a priority that attracts funding, while salinity management and capacity building have also been successful in receiving support. Successful grants for 2014/2015 are detailed below. Manangatang Landcare Group members are working together to establish a long term plan to manage increasing salinity in their Landcare area, with the support of $21,933.95 through the National Landcare 25th Anniversary Program. They have received $14,940 from the Victorian Landcare Grants Program for pest rabbit control along public roadsides. Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group received $12,015 for its pest rabbit control along public roadsides campaign from the Victorian Landcare Grants Program, and a further $30,194 from Communities for Nature to extend the program. In addition, the group accepted $500 from Swan Hill Rural City Council’s Small Community Grants Program to support the purchase of a group GPS camera.

promotional material and the purchase of a laptop computer. The group also received $1,535 from Swan Hill Rural City Council’s Small Community Grants Program for the purchase of a group poly water tank and first aid kit. Annuello Landcare Group was successful in its application for $14,940 from the Victorian Landcare Grants Program for the control of pest rabbits along public roadsides. Nyah West Landcare Group as part of its Buloke Protection Project was allocated $12,050 through the Victorian Landcare Grants Program for the control of pest rabbits along public roadsides. Sea Lake Landcare Group is also targeting pest rabbit control along public roadsides, and was allocated $13,175 from the Victorian Landcare Grants Program to assist it in this project. Commendations to all of the groups who were successful in their applications, applying for funding is difficult business. It can be competitive and arduous, but over time, it gets easier. Your Landcare facilitator can be of much help to you in the process of writing your application. Perhaps the biggest tip would be to not leave it to the last minute!

Robinvale Indigenous Landcare Group was the recipient of $4,000 from the Victorian Landcare Grants Program to support group

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LANDCARE LINKS

Autumn 2015

Victorian Landcare Awards 2015 By Kevin Chaplin Every two years the State and Territory Landcare Awards, including the Victorian Landcare Awards, are held to acknowledge the success and achievements of community Landcarers, groups, networks, and organisations who have been working to protect, enhance and restore our environment. The winners of the nine national award categories go on to represent their state or territory in the National Landcare Awards in the following year. In addition to the nine national award categories the Victorian Landcare Awards also incorporate three State-specific awards: • Landcare Network Award • Heather Mitchell Memorial Fellowship • Dr Sidney Plowman Study and Travel Award. In Victoria there are regional awards in the DELWP Innovation in Sustainable Farm Practices category for a landholder from each Catchment Management Authority region. These awards acknowledge best practise Landcare in our state and are given both to individuals and groups to recognise extraordinary efforts to improve and enhance our environment through their involvement with Landcare. Previous Mallee winners include the Murrayville Landcare Group, Yelta Landcare group, Birchip Landcare Group, Nyah West Landcare Group and Millewa Landcare group just to name a few. These groups have a strong focus on pest plant and animal control, running a variety of programs over the years including; poison oat/carrot and ripping campaigns for rabbits, rabbit calici virus monitoring programs, chemical rebates to assist with private control of invasive weeds of national significance, funding for

Project Partners

24

contractors to do large areas of spraying and the release of biological control agents for weeds such as bridal creeper and cactus. Groups have developed local action plans where the community come together to identify and document their local priorities and issues of concern in regards to local natural resource management issues. They identify areas of pest plants and animals on roadsides, areas of native vegetation that they would like to protect and enhance, areas of threatened local flora and fauna that need preserving and activities and opportunities where they can enhance community capacity and knowledge. Ross and Helen Bennett, members of the Waitchie Landcare Group won the Victorian Sustainable Farming Award in 2007. Improving local Landcare practices is just one of the goals Ross has for his local area. As Waitchie Landcare Group President, Ross leads by example and has planted thousands of native trees and shrubs on his 4000 hectare wheat and barley farm. He has also created a wildlife corridor between two local lakes, Lake Timboram and Lake Wahpool and has completed protective fencing of three patches of remnant vegetation adjacent to the wildlife corridor. Minimal tillage farming, environmental mapping and property planning, saltbush planting and rabbit control are also some of the other Landcare projects that Ross and Helen have been involved with. Nominations for this year’s awards open Monday 23 March and close Sunday 21 June 2015. If you would like to nominate an individual or a group for these awards please contact the Regional Landcare Co-ordinator, Kevin Chaplin to discuss your nomination.

Contacts Kevin Chaplin - Regional Landcare Coordinator. Phone: 03 5051 4670 Tahlia Serle - South Western Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0409 655 646 Beulah Landcare Group Hopetoun Landcare Group Rainbow and District Landcare Group Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group. Eastern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0427 883 100 Nyah West/Swan Hill West Landcare Group Manangatang Landcare Group Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group Waitchie Landcare Group Sea Lake Landcare Group Robinvale Landcare Group. Eboni Musgrove - Murrayville Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0477 550 161 Murrayville Landcare Group. Paul Mock - South Eastern Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0409 615 846 Berriwillock Landcare Group Birchip Landcare Group Culgoa Landcare Group Lalbert Landcare Group Nullawil Landcare Group Ultima Landcare Group. Nicola Vaughan - Northern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 03 5051 4320 Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group Yelta Landcare Group Kulkyne Way Landcare Group Red Cliffs 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. Printed on 80% recycled Australian paper made from pre- and post-consumer waste. 


The

Mallee Farmer

National Variety Testing yield results from 2014 Mallee wheat and barley sites When choosing a grain variety it is recommended that growers review yield and quality information from a range of sites and over more than one season. It is important when deciding which wheat or barley variety to grow that you look at minimising risk and choose varieties that have the traits best suited to your particular rotation. Unfortunately it is rare for a single variety to meet every agronomic need. By Ivan Mock and Neil Vallance, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management

Some of the key agronomic traits farmers need to consider when deciding on a new wheat or barley variety include: • Foliar disease resistance to rusts and yellow leaf spot; • Cereal root disease resistance to cereal cyst nematode; • Consistent grain size, test weight and low screenings; • Consistency of growth and good early vigour over a range of soil types; and, • Appropriate grain quality classifications for your rotation and location - Hard or Australian Prime Wheat. Farmers and the grains industry are provided with unbiased and accurate information on the performance of crop varieties through National Variety Trials (NVT) in each cropping region. These are coordinated by the Australian Crop Accreditation System for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and managed by independent contractors. Dodgshun Medlin operates the NVT sites in the Victorian Mallee in conjunction with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). The following information is presented to summarise the performance of selected wheat and barley varieties in the Mallee. Cereal cultivars entered in each trial are varieties currently grown and those close to release. Grain yield as well as quality and disease resistance ratings and other agronomic attributes are available on the nvtonline website.

Comments on a select number of wheat varieties Mace (AH) – The area sown to Mace continues to increase in the Victorian Mallee. Mace is a very popular and widely grown variety in South Australia. Its yellow leaf spot rating of MR-MS is much more robust than varieties such as Yitpi which is rated as S-VS. But susceptibility to stripe rust (S-VS) might mean an in-crop fungicide strategy is required if the season is favourable for a stripe rust outbreak. Corack (APW) - Corack’s key agronomic advantage is its CCN rating of R-MR and consistent yields. It is important not to become complacent about CCN. Corack’s stripe rust rating of S may require a fungicide strategy to control this foliar disease in certain years. Kord Clearfield Plus (AH) compared with Grenade Clearfield Plus (AH) - Longterm Mallee yield comparisons indicate Kord is slightly higher yielding than Grenade and this yield advantage was repeated in 2014 (Table 1). Grenade has greater tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting and a slightly improved CCN rating (R) compared to Kord’s MR rating. Both varieties have similar yellow leaf spot ratings (MS-S). Grower observations in 2014 indicated that Grenade was more consistent on sand than Kord, whereas Kord appeared to be more consistent on the heavier loamy soil types. This may have been due to the 2014 growing season conditions and 2015 may not mirror this observation. Shield (AH) - Performed very well in 2014 with consistent yields across all NVT sites. Shield has excellent foliar disease resistance: rated as MR to stripe rust, R-MR to stem rust and R to leaf rust. It is a potential variety for growers who desire a hard quality wheat complimented by robust foliar disease resistance and an adequate CCN rating of MR.

Trial plot harvester at work

Trojan (APW) and Cosmick (AH)- These recent releases offer growers high yielding varieties with alternative grain quality options and are adapted across a broad range of farming environments. Both varieties yielded consistently well in 2013 and 2014. Trojan has a MR rating to stem, stripe and leaf rust and an MS rating to CCN. Cosmick has poor CCN resistance (S) and is rated as MR-MS to stem rust, MS-S for stripe rust and S to leaf rust.

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The

Trojan (APW)  and  Cosmick  (AH)-­‐  These  recent  releases  offer  growers  high  yielding  varieties  with  alternative  grain   Mallee Farmer quality  options  and  are  adapted  across  a  broad  range  of  farming  environments.  Both  varieties  yielded  consistently   well  in  2013  and  2014.  Trojan  has  a  MR  rating  to  stem,  stripe  and  leaf  rust  and  an  MS  rating  to  CCN.  Cosmick  has   poor  CCN  resistance  (S)  and  is  rated  as  MR-­‐MS  to  stem  rust,  MS-­‐S  for  stripe  rust  and  S  to  leaf  rust.     Table 1 Table  1      2014   NVT  wheat  grain  yields  as  a  percentage  of  the  site  mean  (t/ha)  

Variety AGT  Katana   Axe   Cobra   Corack   Mace   Elmore   Justica  CL  Plus   Grenade  CL  Plus     Kord  CL  Plus   Correll   Emu  Rock   Phantom   Estoc   Cosmick   Derrimut   Gladius   Magenta   Harper   Shield   Trojan   Scout   Yitpi   Site  Mean  

Ultima 101   85   61   102   98   100   102   97   103   100   97   100   105   106   101   98   106   100   103   110   97   101   2.11  

Walpeup 114   99   92   103   93   103   103   100   103   110   106   99   80   110   114   92   92   96   112   95   109   90   2.50  

M’tang 94   85   85   103   103   104   107   85   100   96   89   92   104   109   106   91   111   107   106   107   85   98   *2.27  

Murrayville 101   98   81   102   103   101   100   97   101   103   100   103   91   106   97   97   100   100   110   104   105   98   *2.49  

Kyalite NA   73   96   109   106   102   102   100   105   109   88   95   103   103   102   101   105   101   105   106   98   92   *2.66  

Hopetoun 106   105   79   89   105   89   101   100   98   109   101   94   97   110   102   98   103   102   105   102   100   96   *2.11  

Birchip 96   92   88   105   107   103   100   93   100   98   92   98   102   114   100   92   97   96   112   106   100   100   *2.78  

Q’took 94   104   106   106   104   100   86   89   104   102   99   92   97   105   91   93   100   100   104   113   92   97   *3.05  

Merrinee 102   91   103   114   102   92   91   86   97   108   94   102   96   105   96   99   117   101   106   110   88   92   1.95  

* Sites  highlighted  have  experienced  some  frosting,  so  interpret  results  with  caution      

Table 3.  2014  NVT  wheat  grain  yields  as  a  percentage  of  the  site  mean  (t/ha)   Table 2 Variety   AGT  Katana   Axe   Cobra   Corack   Mace  

Ultima

Walpeup

Manangatang

Murrayville

101 114   94   101   85   99   85   98   61   92   85   81   102   103   103   102   98   93   103   103   Elmore   100   103   104   101   Justica   102   103   107   100   Grenade     97   100   85   97   Kord   103   103   100   101   Correll   100   110   96   103   Emu  Rock   97   106   89   100   Phantom   100   99   92   103   Estoc   105   80   104   91   Cosmick   106   110   109   106   Derrimut   101   114   106   97   Gladius   98   92   91   97   Figure  1  Long  term  wheat  yields  (2009-­‐2013)  in  t/ha   Magenta   106   92   111   100   Harper   100   96   107   100   Shield   103   112   106   110   Trojan   110   95   107   104   Scout   97   109   85   105   Yitpi   101   90   98   98   Site  Mean   2.11   2.50   *2.27   *2.49  

Kyalite

Hopetoun

NA 97   97   105   106   103   100   102   107   113   89   97   104   104   119   100   105   99   104   106   99   93   *2.65  

106 105   79   89   105   89   101   100   98   109   101   94   97   110   102   98   103   102   105   102   100   96   *2.11  

Birchip

Q’took

96 94   92   104   88   106   105   106   107   104   103   100   100   86   93   89   100   104   98   102   92   99   98   92   102   97   114   105   100     91   92   93   97   100   96   100   112   104   106   113   100   92   100   97   *2.78   *3.05  

Merrinee

102 91   103   114   102   92   91   86   97   108   94   102   96   105   96   99   117   101   106   110   88   92   1.95  

Sites highlighted with an * experienced some degree of frosting. General site comments are “the trial experienced frost conditions below -1.0 C on the following occasions during Spring - Sept 3, Sept 5, Sept 12 - 14, Sept 18 - 22. Interpret results with caution”.

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Sites highlighted  with  an  *  have  experienced  some  degree  of  frosting.  General  site  comments  are  “the  trial  experience


* Sites  highlighted  have  experienced  some  frosting,  so  interpret  results  with  caution    

The

Mallee Farmer

Comments on a select number of barley

Figure 1  Long   term  wheat  yields  (2009-­‐2013)  in  t/ha   varieties Compass (Malt accreditation 2016) – Compass was again a consistent yield performer throughout the majority of Mallee NVT sites in 2014. Compass has a highly desirable R rating to CCN and it’s rated as MR-MS to the foliar disease Spot Form Net Blotch (SFNB,) which in some years may require a fungicide management strategy. Hindmarsh and La Trobe (Under-going Malt accreditations) – Both varieties were relatively similar in grain yield in 2014 and again demonstrated consistent high yields at most NVT sites. Both varieties lack early vigour, particularly on sandy rises and both are better adapted to duplex, sand-over-clay, soil types. Fathom (Feed) – Fathom demonstrates greater early vigour (particularly on sand) compared to Hindmarsh and La Trobe. Grain yields were again consistent and its root and foliar disease package is excellent- rating an R to CCN, and a MR to the SFNB. Scope (Malt) - Yields for Scope were generally below the site averages in 2014 and lower than its longterm average. This was also evident commercially in some areas of the Victorian and South Australian Mallee in 2014. Scope is rated as S to CCN, MS-S to SFNB and MS-SVS to leaf rust. Rotational planning needs to factor in

Finished!.....Just in time!!

potential CCN build up when growing Scope. Skipper (Malt accreditation 2015) – This variety continues to yield well and is complemented with an R rating to CCN and MR-MS to SFNB. It is useful as a potential Commander replacement.

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The

Mallee Farmer Table 2      2014   NVT  barley  grain  yields  as  a  percentage  of  the  site  mean  (t/ha)   Table 3 Variety   Keel   Fleet   Hindmarsh   La  Trobe   Fathom   Compass   Skipper   Scope   Buloke   Commander   Gairdner   Schooner   Granger   Oxford   SY  Rattler   Bass   Flinders   Site  Mean  

Ultima 109   100   113   116   114   129   104   86   88   88   96   88   85   69   86   91   96   *2.16  

Walpeup 107   82   111   115   108   131   122   90   85   73   94   106   69   85   79   94   97   2.11  

Manangatang 108   103   105   111   111   109   111   97   98   100   93   92   90   92   70   93   101   *2.50  

Murrayville 107   98   113   111   114   123   111   92   93   94   93   90   81   77   91   92   89   2.66  

Birchip 108   98   114   115   96   120   105   84   91   103   86   85   105   89   92   82   92   2.74  

Rainbow 116   94   122   118   106   129   105   91   86   70   94   88   88   61   97   101   98   1.74  

Hopetoun 107   96   116   105   93   119   105   91   90   97   88   86   93   83   103   93   97   2.40  

                 

* Sites  highlighted  have  experienced  some  frosting,  so  interpret  results  with  caution.     Comments  on  a  select  number  of  barley  varieties     Compass  (Malt  accreditation  2016)  –  Compass  was  again  a  consistent  yield  performer  throughout  the  majority  of   Mallee  NVT  sites  in  2014.  Compass  has  a  highly  desirable  R  rating  to  CCN  and  it’s  rated  as  MR-­‐MS  to  the  foliar   disease  Spot  Form  Net  Blotch  (SFNB,)  which  in  some  years  may  require  a  fungicide  management  strategy.   Hindmarsh  and  La  Trobe  (Under-­‐going  Malt  accreditations)  –  Both  varieties  were  relatively  similar  in  grain  yield  in   2014  and  again  demonstrated  consistent  high  yields  at  most  NVT  sites.  Both  varieties  lack  early  vigour,  particularly   on  sandy  rises  and  both  are  better  adapted  to  duplex,  sand-­‐over-­‐clay,  soil  types.   Fathom  (Feed)  –  Fathom  demonstrates  greater  early  vigour  (particularly  on  sand)  compared  to  Hindmarsh  and  La   Trobe.  Grain  yields  were  again  consistent  and  its  root  and  foliar  disease  package  is  excellent-­‐  rating  an  R  to  CCN,  and   a  MR  to  the  SFNB.     Scope  (Malt)  -­‐  Yields  for  Scope  were  generally  below  the  site  averages  in  2014  and  lower  than  its  long-­‐term  average.   This  was  also  evident  commercially  in  some  areas  of  the  Victorian  and  South  Australian  Mallee  in  2014.  Scope  is   rated  as  S  to  CCN,  MS-­‐S  to  SFNB  and  MS-­‐SVS  to  leaf  rust.  Rotational  planning  needs  to  factor  in  potential  CCN  build   up  when  growing  Scope.         Skipper  (Malt  accreditation  2015)  –  This  variety  continues  to  yield  well  and  is  complemented  with  an  R  rating  to  CCN   Figure  2  Long   erm  btarley   yields   t/ha   Commander  replacement.   and  MtR-­‐MS   o  SFNB.   It  is  (u2009-­‐2013)   seful  as  a  potential  

Acknowledgement Acknowledgements  

An essential part of the successful delivery of the NVT program is the interest and collaboration the farmers allowed the use of their o land in this project: Adam O’Brien, Damian An efrom ssential   part  owho f  the   successful   delivery   f  the   NVT   program   is  and the  Bill interest   and   collaboration  from  the  farmers   and Kevin O’Brien, and James Bell (Ultima); John and David Ferrier (Birchip); Brett Fisher who   a llowed   t he   u se   o f   t heir   l and   i n   t his   p roject:   A dam   a nd   B ill   O ’Brien,   D amian   a nd   Kevin  O’Brien,  and  James  Bell   (Rainbow); Ross Cook (Hopetoun); Keith and Brad Plants (Manangatang); Greg Norton (Kyalite); Jim Wakefield (Walpeup); Gus Eichler (Murrayville) and Matt Curtis (Merrinee).

(Ultima); John  and  David  Ferrier  (Birchip);  Brett  Fisher  (Rainbow);  Ross  Cook  (Hopetoun);  Keith  and  Brad  Plants   (Manangatang);  Greg  Norton  (Kyalite);  Jim  Wakefield  (Walpeup);  Gus  Eichler  (Murrayville)  and  Matt  Curtis   For more information (Merrinee).   Contact Roy Latta, Research & Development, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management on 0475 813 040

For more  information,  contact  Roy  Latta,  Research  &  Development,  Dodgshun  Medlin  Agricultural  Management  on   0475  813  040.   16 28


The

Mallee Farmer

Two year breaks increase profitability and reduce agronomic constraints Two year break phases in low rainfall crop sequences could successfully address agronomic constraints to increase the productivity of subsequent cereal crops and improve the profitability of the long term crop sequence, when compared to maintaining continuous cereal. By By Michael Moodie, Nigel Wilhelm, Peter Telfer and Todd McDonald Mallee Sustainable Farming

The Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing project commenced in 2011 with field trials at five sites (Minnipa, SA; Appila, SA; Mildura, VIC, Chinkapook, VIC and Condobolin, NSW) across the low rainfall zone of south eastern Australia. At that point in time, crop sequences in the low rainfall region were dominated by intensive cereal cropping and break crops occupied less than five percent of the landscape. Moreover, these intensive cereal cropping sequences were declining in productivity due to agronomic constraints such as grass weeds, declining soil nitrogen fertility and crop diseases. The aim of the project was to test if including one and two year break phases in low rainfall crop sequences could successfully address agronomic constraints to increase the productivity of subsequent cereal crops and improve the profitability of the long term crop sequence, when compared to maintaining continuous cereal. The Mildura trial was located in the Millewa region of the Victorian Mallee. In 2011, nine different break options were established along with a continuous wheat treatment. In 2012, either a second break phase was implemented

Figure  Figure 1.    Contribution   of  Brome  of grass   (in  crop   population),   ineral  nitrogen   (pre  sowing   mineral   -­‐60  cm),  mineral rhizoctonia  (pre   1. Contribution Brome grass (in crop m population), mineral nitrogen (pre0sowing sowing   inoculum)   and  soil  water   (pre   sowing  inoculum) 0-­‐120  cm)  to   break   (difference   between   treatment   and  continuous   0-60 cm), rhizoctonia (pre sowing and soileffect   water (pre sowing 0-120 cm) to break effect cereal  (difference yield  in  the  M ildura  trial   in  2013  and   2014).   A  positive   effect  yield means   he  difference   n  t2013 he  level   of  t2014). he  agronomic   between treatment and continuous cereal inthat   thetMildura trial iin and A positive effect the difference the level of theA  agronomic constraint increased the constraint   increased   the  means yield  of  tthat he  break   relative  to  cin ontinuous   wheat.   negative  effect   means  the   level  of  the   yieldcof the break relative toycontinuous wheat. A negative effect means the level of the agronomic agronomic   onstraint   resulted   in  less   ield  in  the  break   option   than  in  the   control.  

constraint resulted in less yield in the break option than in the control.

Long term  profit  

Gross margins  were  calculated  for  all  treatments  in  each  of  the  four  years  of  the  trial  and  then  accumulated  for  the   total   29 17 period.  Gross  margins  were  calculated  using  the  Rural  Solutions  Farm  Gross  Margin  and  Enterprise  Planning  Guide.  A  


The

Mallee Farmer (granting a two year break), or the rotation was returned to wheat (one year break). In 2013, all rotations were returned to either conventional wheat (var. Shield) or Clearfield wheat (var. Grenade). In 2014, all plots were again sown to wheat (var. Grenade). Throughout the trial, agronomic management was varied for each individual rotation to help maximise the profitability of that rotation and to respond to particular issues in each option. For example nitrogen inputs, varieties, sowing dates and herbicide applications were varied depending on the level and type of agronomic constraints in each rotation.

Break effects Results indicate that including break phases in the rotation increased the productivity of subsequent cereal crops. A one year break phase of field pea or fallow led to an increase of 0.3 t/ha and one year of canola resulted in a 0.1 t/ha yield benefit in the 2012 wheat crop. In 2013, the benefit of having a two year beak prior to 2013 was 0.51.25 t/ha. It was noted the benefits of the one year break crop in 2011 only lasted for a single season. Break crop benefits were also observed in 2014 with selected rotations having up to a 0.4 t/ha greater yield than the continuous wheat treatment. The importance of Brome grass, soil nitrogen, rhizoctonia and soil water to the yield difference between break options and continuous wheat was analysed for wheat yields in 2013 and 2014 (Figure 1). 2013 was the first year following a two year break and second year following a one year break. Averaged across all positive break effects, 39 percent of the yield increase was due to less brome grass, 38 percent was due to more nitrogen, 19 percent was due to less rhizoctonia and four percent was due to more water. Where negative break effects were observed, 77 percent of the difference was due to increased brome grass, 15 percent was due to increased rhizoctonia, six percent due to less water and two percent was due to less nitrogen.

water accounted for very little of the yield differences observed in the trial in 2014.

Long term profit Gross margins were calculated for all treatments in each of the four years of the trial and then accumulated for the total period. Gross margins were calculated using the Rural Solutions Farm Gross Margin and Enterprise Planning Guide. A detailed explanation of the gross margin calculation methodology can be accessed at http://msfp.org.au/wp-content/ uploads/2014/02/MSF1320.pdf. Figure 2 shows 15 of the 19 rotations were more profitable than maintaining continuous wheat over the four year trial period. On average, the top five most profitable rotations were $360/ha or $90/ ha per year more profitable than the continuous wheat. Furthermore, four of the top five most profitable rotations included two year break crop phases. Key characteristics of the most profitable rotations were having at least one profitable break crop in the rotation and the ability to capture increased profits in the wheat crops subsequent to the break phase. Of the rotations that were less profitable than wheat, three of the four included at least one fallow phase. The other rotation was a two year pasture, which had a high brome grass population as the only weed control tactic was to spray top. However, the absolute difference in gross margin between these treatments and the continuous wheat treatment were minor (on average less than $40/ ha).

1. That incorporating one and two year break phases in regions receiving low rainfall in the Mallee can significantly increase the productivity of subsequent wheat crops; 2. That Brome grass infestation was the most significant driver for a crop break year; and, 3. That including a two year break phase in the rotation was often more profitable than maintaining continuous wheat over the four year period of the trial.

For more information This trial is a collaboration between MSF and SARDI with funding from the GRDC. If you would like more information or to discuss the trial and results further, please contact Michael Moodie on 0448612892 or email michael@msfp.org.au. More information on this trial and other MSF projects is available at www.msfp.org.au

From the Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing project we can deduce three key messages:

Brome grass was the dominant driver of positive break effects in 2014, accounting for an average of 80 percent of the differences in wheat yield. Higher soil nitrogen levels accounted for a further 18 percent of the positive break effect. Where the continuous wheat in 2014 out yielded wheat following a break option, nitrogen accounted for 58 percent and brome grass 37 percent Figure g2. Seasonal margins for each treatment in the lowsrainfall croptrial sequencing trial Figure  2.  Seasonal   ross   margins  gross for  each   treatment   in  the   low  rainfall   crop   equencing   of the difference. Rhizoctonia and soil

30

Key messages   From  the  Low  Rainfall  Crop  Sequencing  project  we  can  deduce  three  key  messages:  


The

Mallee Farmer

Native forage crops for dryland grazing systems Strategies to reduce soil erosion, increase the productive use of land with soil constraints, and improve soil health continue to be priorities for local landholders. By Cameron Flowers, Mallee CMA Project Officer Soil types in the agricultural belt of the Mallee are characteristically sandy and particularly susceptible to wind erosion. Wind erosion poses a major threat to productive agriculture. Most farmers are familiar with the detrimental effects such as soil loss, loss of nutrients for plants, reduction in water infiltration, appearance of scalds (areas of bare, hard ground with reduced water uptake) and the burying of infrastructure (i.e. fences, gates and water troughs). Dryland agriculture covers approximately 62% of the Victorian Mallee, spanning 2.4 million hectares. As ground cover is critical for protecting soil from wind erosion, farmers play a key role in securing the health of the region’s natural and productive landscapes. Strategies to reduce soil erosion, increase the productive use of land with soil constraints, and improve soil health continue to be priorities for local landholders. The adoption of conservation practices for cropping and grazing has increased significantly over recent years. However, there is still considerable potential for the adoption of sustainable land management practices, particularly with grazing, to increase productivity and to improve the health of land resources. Maintaining groundcover in mixed farming systems in the Mallee, particularly for the period between harvest and establishment of the following crop, is an effective tool in combating wind erosion. Incorporating Australian native perennial shrubs as additional fodder on mixed farms is a beneficial means to do so. By transforming areas of low productivity into land with value for grazing, the strategic plantings of native shrubs into dryland grazing systems can improve farm resilience, sustainability and profitability. Planting a mix of Australian perennials

can provide both economic and environmental benefits. For example, the provision of green feed during dry periods can potentially reduce the need for supplementary feeding and may also have some impact on reducing groundwater recharge and salinity in localised areas. Additionally, the use of native plants can provide shelter for livestock. Other potential benefits of incorporating native forage shrubs into mixed farming systems include reducing erosion by maintaining groundcover, adapting to climate variability, and providing habitat for native species such as birds and lizards. In 2015, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) will be demonstrating the benefits of incorporating Australian perennial shrubs into mixed farming systems in a range of Mallee soil and climate types. For this project, five locations have been selected for their different soil types and climate zones. As such, ten hectare sites will be established at each of the following locations: Patchewollock, Birchip, Murrayville, Carwarp and Millewa. Landholders at each location have been consulted during site design to ensure management requirements such as interrow cropping and pasture rotations, are taken into account. This work builds on the National Enrich project which, since its inception in 2008, has identified six top performing shrub species in the Mallee in terms of edible biomass, grazing preference and survival.

evaluation of establishment and survival rates. Field days will be held at the demonstration sites and a case study will be produced providing information on the trials. This information will provide landholders and advisors with the opportunity to discover the benefits of planting native shrubs as additional fodder on Mallee farms. This project is an exciting opportunity for landholders to explore how strategic plantings of Australian perennial shrubs may improve farm productivity and have environmental benefits through the transformation of areas of marginal soils into land with grazing value. To find out more information on this project please contact the Mallee CMA on 03 5051 4377, or visit www.malleecma.vic.gov.au. The Mallee CMA wishes to thank each of the landholders involved in the native forage shrub demonstration sites.

This project is supported by a partnership between the Mallee CMA, Mallee Sustainable Farming, Birchip Cropping Group and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. The project is funded through the Australian Government.

Planting at each ten hectare site will be undertaken in Autumn with the following species: • Emu bush (Eremophila glabra); • Mallee saltbush (Rhagodia preissii); • Old man saltbush (Atriplex nummularia); • River saltbush (Atriplex amnicola); • Ruby saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa); and, • Silver saltbush (Atriplex rhagodiodes). The species will undergo primary field

31


The

Mallee Farmer

Tracking sheep grazing habits in the Mallee By Michael Moodie, Mallee Sustainable Farming

Have you ever wondered how sheep go about grazing in Mallee paddocks? To find out, this project will track a flock of 200 ewes while grazing a 265 acre paddock.

Have you ever wondered how sheep go about grazing in Mallee paddocks? Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF), Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), the University of New England (UNE) and the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) have recently joined forces to track a flock of 200 ewes while grazing a 265 acre paddock. The project site is located at Nandaly and tracking will occur while sheep are grazing stubbles in summer and then when grazing a forage crop in winter. Within the flock, 25 sheep have been fitted with customised collars with Global Positioning System (GPS) loggers which will stay on the animals for the duration of grazing. This data will then be downloaded and analysed to assess intensity of grazing across the paddock as well as other factors such as identifying camp sites. One of the aims of the project is to relate grazing intensity to changes in groundcover, to provide farmers with better guidelines for maximising grazing potential without reducing groundcover below the critical 50 percent threshold. Therefore, to support the livestock tracking data, intensive sampling of feed availability, feed quality and groundcover levels is being undertaken every 10 days. The paddock has also been intensively mapped to establish paddock zones using historic Landsat NDVI, elevation, a Crop Circle sensor and electromagnetic mapping (EM38 see Figure 1). It is anticipated that the information produced by this research will in the future help farmers to design and implement improved grazing management systems. This may include cell grazing, virtual fencing (which is a technology on the horizon), real time grazing monitoring and water point stratification. This type of data could also be used to quantify livestock distribution of nutrients, which could improve paddock management and refine fertiliser inputs.

32

A sheep fitted with a GPS tracking collar

For more information If you would like to find out more about livestock monitoring, UNE will be presenting on this project and other research work at the BCG Expo in early July. A field day at the Nandaly site will also be held around this time. You can hear about the latest project results and field day details through MSF, BCG and the Mallee CMA or contact Michael Moodie on 0448612892 or email michael@msfp.org.au

Figure 1. A zone map of the paddock where sheep grazing is being tracked


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Mallee Farmer

Grazing shrub performance By Chris Korte and Mick Brady Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport Resources. The Mallee Catchment Mangement Authority (CMA) and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources have been evaluating perennial shrubs at Manangatang. The area evaluated was a salt flat with high boron levels unsuitable for growing annual cereal crops. The shrubs evaluated were those that had performed best at Walpeup on land suitable for annual cropping. Five species were compared with Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia), a species often grown for grazing in the Mallee. Old Man Saltbush and Silver Saltbush (Atriplex rhagodioides) performed best in terms of plant survival and production of edible herbage. Of the two species, Old Man Saltbush was more palatable to sheep. Shrubs were planted in August 2011 and allowed to grow ungrazed until June 2014, when the first grazing occurred. The plants were slow to establish and grow as a result of low rainfall and a difficult site, typical of where grazing shrubs might establish in the Mallee. Table 1 shows the proportion of shrubs that survived and the estimated amount of edible leaves and soft shoots available for grazing in May 2014. Plant survival was relatively good. Two species, Mallee Saltbush and Emu Bush, had significantly lower survival rates than Old Man Saltbush. Old man saltbush and silver saltbush were superior to the other four species in terms of volumes of edible forage produced during the first 33 months of growth. Mallee saltbush was also productive, but only produced about half the forage of Old man saltbush. Other species in the experiment produced considerably less than Old man saltbush. Dry ewes were used to graze shrubs from May through to July 2014. The sheep had previously grazed Old Man Saltbush and were accustomed to feeding on shrubs. Sheep had access to all shrubs. Grass and weeds (900 kg DM/ ha) were present between shrub rows. To obtain a measure of shrub palatability, plants were scored during grazing to record how much foliage had been

removed (Table 1). Mallee Saltbush and Emu Bush were more palatable than the Old Man Saltbush, with Mallee Saltbush being the most palatable species. Silver Saltbush and River Saltbush had similar palatability to each other, but were not as attractive to sheep as the Old Man Saltbush. Ruby Saltbush was the least palatable species, having only 14% of edible herbage removed after two weeks of grazing.

Saltbush after 2 weeks of grazing

Recovery from grazing has not yet been measured, but it appears that many Mallee saltbush plants may have been overgrazed to the point of nonproductivity. This observation suggests that shrubs with differing levels of palatability may need to be strategically planted, fenced and involve sheep rotation to avoid overgrazing.

Grazing shrub  performance  

OldBy Man most Chris  Saltbush Korte  and  was Mick  the Brady       Saltbush before grazing was introduced productive species at this site and is considered to have relatively lowof Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources   The  Mallee  CMA   and  the   Department   palatability. Saltbush had similar have  been  Silver evaluating   perennial   shrubs   at  Manangatang,  The  area  evaluated  was  a    salt  flat  with  high   productivity and survival togrowing   Old Man boron  levels   unsuitable   for   annual  cereal  crops.    The  shrubs  evaluated  were  those  that  had   Acknowledgments Saltbush, butbest   was palatable. performed   at  less Walpeup   on  land  sHad uitable  for  annual  cropping.    Five  species  were  compared  with   This project is funded through the the grazing period been extended, it is Old  Man  Saltbush  (Atriplex  nummularia),  a  species  often  grown  for  grazing  in  the  Mallee.  Old  Man   anticipated that sheep would consume Mallee CMA with support from the Saltbush  and  Silver  Saltbush  (Atriplex  rhagodioides)  performed  best  in  terms  of  plant  survival  and   all Silver Saltbush leaves. Australian Government production  of  edible  herbage.    Of  the  two  species,    Old  Man  Saltbush  was  more  palatable  to  sheep.      

KeyShrubs Messages were  planted  in  August  2011  and  allowed  to  gFor row  umore ngrazed  uinformation ntil  June  2014,  when  the  first  

• Shrub establishment slow grazing occurred.   The  plants  can were  be slow   to  establish  aContact nd  grow  as  Chris a  result  Korte of  low  on rainfall  and  a  difficult   (three years); site,  typical  of  where  grazing  shrubs  might  establish  i03 n  the   Mallee.   5062 2199 or Mick Brady • Old Man Saltbush and Silver

03 5051 4394

Table 1  shows  performed the  proportion   of  shrubs   Saltbush best; and, that  survived  and  the  estimated  amount  of  edible  leaves  and   soft   s hoots   a vailable   f or   g razing   i n   • Plant shrubs with different May  2014.  Plant  survival  was  relatively  good.    Two  species,  Mallee   Saltbush   and  Emu   Bush,  had  significantly   lower  survival  rates  than  Old  Man  Saltbush.   palatability separately for grazing. Old  man  saltbush  and  silver  saltbush  were  superior  to  the  other  four  species  in  terms  of  volumes  of   edible  forage  produced  during  the  first  33  months  of  growth.    Mallee  saltbush  was  also  productive,   but  only  produced  about  half  the  forage  of  Old  man  saltbush.    Other  species  in  the  experiment   produced  considerably  less  than  Old  man  saltbush.   Table  1.  Shrub  survival,  edible  forage  per  live  plant,  and  herbage  removed  by  sheep  after  one  and   two  weeks  grazing.    

Plant survival    

Edible forage    

% Herbage  removed  after  

Species

(%)

(g DM/plant)  

1 week  

2 weeks  

Ruby Saltbush  

98

59

1%

14%

Silver Saltbush  

95

303

8%

43%

Mallee Saltbush  

80

144

59%

>80%

River Saltbush  

95

64

7%

37%

Emu Bush  

91

36

45%

>80%

Old Man  Saltbush   (Control)  

100

307

25%

79%

Dry  ewes  were  used  to  graze  shrubs  from  May  through  to  July  2014.  The  sheep  had  previously  

21 33


The

Mallee Farmer

Faba Beans (AF50692, left) and Field Peas (Wharton, right)

Field peas excel in Mildura pulse crop comparison trials Caption

By Michael Moodie and Todd McDonald, Mallee Sustainable Farming There is little doubt that break crops are now an important component for the sustainability of northern Mallee cropping rotations as they can reduce weeds and disease pressures, and can contribute nitrogen if a legume option is chosen. However, productive and reliable break crops are required if rotations involving break crops are to be more profitable than maintaining cereal intensive cropping sequences. Selecting which break crop to grow is challenging as there is little comparative information on the performance

34

of break crops and varieties in the northern Mallee. To address this, Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) implemented pulse crop demonstration trials at the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) funded Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing project site near Mildura. The aim of the trials was to provide farmers with more information on the productivity of legume break crops and varieties in the northern Victorian Mallee region.

adapted to the northern Mallee cropping region. The crops and the varieties selected for each trial can be seen in Table 1.

About the trials

The Mildura site was sown dry on 5 May into a moist seed bed with a full profile of soil moisture. Both trials were sown into standing cereal stubble with a No-Till plot seeder using narrow profile tynes and press wheels at seeding rates optimised for each crop and variety (Table 1). Single Super (0-9-0-11) was banded below the seed at 100 kg/ha. Glyphosate

Two separate trials were implemented in 2014. The ‘Pulse Trial’ compared the productivity of pulse crops for use in seed production and the ‘Brown Manure Trial’ compared the productivity of pulse crops for use as a brown manure. Industry experts were consulted to determine appropriate pulse varieties

The soil type at the site has a sandy loam texture with a topsoil pH (CaCl2) of 7.5. In 2014 the site received 230 mm of rainfall for the year with the majority of this rain falling in the first six months. Frosts occurred in the region during July; however, they did not appear to severely impact the trial.


The

Mallee Farmer

t/ha). Lupin  tended  to  be  the  least  productive  crop  at  the  site  in  2014,  although  the  variety   Mandelup  was  near  in  producing  the  grain  yield  of  many  of  the  other  break  crops.   There  were  no  large  differences  between  break  options  in  the  Brown  Manure  trial  with  all  producing   about  4.5  t/ha.  Although  they  cannot  be  statistically  compared,  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  field   pea  and  faba  bean  varieties  selected  for  grain  yield  in  the  pulse  trial  exceeded  the  biomass  produced   by  the  field  peas  in  the  brown  manure  trial,  chosen  solely  for  dry  matter  production.  One  of  the   limitations  of  this  comparison  is  that  all  varieties  were  sown  at  the  same  time;  however,  brown   Mallee farmers inspect the trials at the 2014 Mildura Field Day manure  options  can  often  be  sown  earlier  (because  frost  is  not  a  threat  to  grain  yield).       Table  1.  Mean  crop  establishment  (Estb.),  dry  matter  production  (measured  on  18  September:  early   pod  fill)  and  grain  yield  for  each  pulse  option  at  Mildura  in  2014.    Treatments  with  the  same  letter  in   the  Sig.  Diff  column  are  not  significantly  different  (p<0.05)  from  each  other   Crop  

Variety

PBA Wharton   Field  Pea   Field  Pea   PBA  Pearl   Field  Pea   PBA  Twilight   Chickpea   PBA   (Kabuli)   Monarch   Chickpea   (Desi)   PBA  Striker   Chickpea   (Kabuli)   Genesis090   Lentil   PBA  Bolt   Faba  Bean   AF50692   Faba  Bean   Farah   Lupin    (Narrow   Leaf)   Mandelup   Lupin     (Narrow  Leaf)   PBA  Barlock   Lupin  (Albus)   Luxor  

Field Pea   Vetch   Field  Pea   Vetch  

PBA Hayman   Volga   PBA  Coogee   Rasina  

compared, it is interesting to note that the field pea and faba bean varieties selected for grain yield in the pulse trial exceeded the biomass produced by the field peas in the brown manure trial, chosen solely for dry matter production. One of the limitations of this comparison is that all varieties were sown at the same time; however, brown manure options can often be sown earlier (because frost is not a threat to grain yield).

Seed Rate   (kg/ha)  

Estb. (plants  per   sq  m)   Pulse  Trial  

Dry Matter   (kg/ha)  

Sig. Diff.  

Grain Yield   (t/ha)  

Sig. Diff.  

95 100   95  

33 35   40  

5768 5850   6455  

abc ab   a  

2.25   1.69   1.67  

a b   b  

130

32

3960

defg

1.62

b

110

43

4162

def

1.57

bc

For more information

100 55   150   150  

29 79   23   20  

3848 4881   5654   4836  

efg bcd   abc   cde  

1.47 1.46   1.41   1.39  

bc bc   bc   bc  

70

34

4096

def

1.23

cd

44 3818   42   2990   Brown  Manure  Trial   39   4731  

fg g  

0.94 0.87  

d d  

a

a a   a  

   

   

These trials were undertaken as part of the GRDC funded Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing project as a collaboration between MSF and SARDI. If you would like further information on this trial or the crop sequencing project, please contact Michael Moodie on 0448612892 or email michael@msfp.org.au. More information on all of MSF’s projects is available at www.msfp.org.au

70 180  

90 40   95   40  

43 36   52  

4708 4501   4472  

andFurther Information   Trifluralin (1.5 L/ha each) and highest grain yields. Faba bean and Terbyne® (1 kg/ha) were applied lentils both produced in excess of a4.5 These  trials   were  undertaken   as  part  prior of  the  GRDC  funded   Low   Rainfall   Crop  Sequencing   project   s  a   t/ to sowing. Verdict wasMapplied on 26 dry matter followed chickpea collaboration   between   SF  and  SARDI.    If  you  would  ha like  of further   information   on  this  by trial  the or  the   crop   June to control Brome grass. There were producing approximately 4 t/   sequencing   project,   please   contact   Michael   Moodie  ovarieties n  0448612892   or  email  m ichael@msfp.org.au.   no other weeds impacting Nois  available  ha ofww.msfp.org.au   biomass. However, grain yields of More  information   on  all  of  Mthe SF’s  trial. projects   at  w in-crop fungicides were required due to a chickpea, lentils and faba beans were dry growing season; however, 600 mL/ha similar (approximately 1.5 t/ha). Lupin of Affirm insecticide was applied on 21 tended to be the least productive crop September to control Native Budworm. at the site in 2014, although the variety Mandelup was near in producing the grain yield of many of the other break Results crops. Field peas were the stand out crop in terms of both dry matter production and grain yield. In the grain pulse trial, the three field pea varieties Twilight, Wharton and Pearl produced the most dry matter at flowering and had the

There were no large differences between break options in the Brown Manure trial with all producing about 4.5 t/ha. Although they cannot be statistically

35


The

Mallee Farmer

Buffel Grass – An emerging threat

New invasive plant species identified in the northern Mallee In summer, Buffel Grass can be confused with a number of species, particularly species of Chloris and Paspalum. Buffel Grass will respond more rapidly to summer rain than other species. By Ruth Raleigh, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Buffel Grass (Cenchrus cilliaris) was formally identified in Victoria in 2014. It is a grass native to Africa and Asia. It does not have a legal status as a weed in Victoria, but was recently declared a weed in South Australia. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is currently mapping any known populations, some of which may be up to 10 years old. DELWP is working with other agencies, stakeholders and communities to implement control measures through a statewide working group. The most recent records are near Sea Lake and Robinvale. A new site 50 km southeast of Sea Lake on the Swan Hill – Donald Road has just been found (30 Jan, 2015). Buffel Grass has been located in recently developed farm entrances suggesting the use of “dirty” gravel and fill. The largest known Victorian population is east of Cullulleraine on the Sturt Highway consisting of thousands of plants. Both sides of the highway are turning into a monoculture of Buffel Grass.

Single Buffel Grass plant surrounded by 3-5 leaf seedlings germinated after summer rain.

Buffel Grass has a vigorous response and growth after summer rainfall. Plants immediately switch to flowering mode to produce large volumes of seed. The flowerhead is soft and fluffy with a darker purplish tinge. Leaves are a rich bright green. Similar rhizomatous broad leafed grasses such as Phalaris have grey/green leaves and Paspalum has darker green leaves. Buffel Grass is suspected of causing lethal toxicity in calving cows and can cause oxalate poisoning in hungry or young livestock. Buffel Grass is an allelopathic species and is capable of suppressing the germination of seed of other species by exuding phytotoxic chemicals into the soil. This allows the grass to form monocultures, by removing legumes and native grasses from the system.

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Buffel Grass seedhead.

Seeds can germinate in the toughest conditions.


The

Mallee Farmer

Figure 1 plant located in an area surrounded by public land was destroyed. Plants in these locations are an extreme risk to Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parks and reserves and must be treated as soon as possible. Buffel Grass is extremely invasive, highly flammable and a major threat to the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural values. It has the ability to burn twice in a season (early spring and autumn) and burns hotter than most native vegetation. Buffel Grass will destroy habitat and change the nature of plant communities that are unable to tolerate hotter and more frequent fires. On-going monitoring for up to five years is needed to spray seedlings that germinate later. Any areas treated need to be recorded using a GPS at the site to allow follow-up monitoring. Seed can remain viable for up to five years.

Figure 2 is immediately east of the intersection of Bethune Road and Mallee Highway, east of Ouyen. This is a good site for plant identification purposes showing old established plants on the road batter and new growth of slashed plants closer to the road verge. Safe parking is in Bethune Road (gravel) with plants easy to identify and only a short walking distance.

In summer, Buffel Grass can be confused with a number of species, particularly species of Chloris and Paspalum. Buffel Grass will respond more rapidly to summer rain than other species. Seed heads provide definitive identification. In winter, Buffel Grass is dormant and may appear dead or sprayed, but can be confused with the native grass Chloris truncata (Windmill Grass).

Figure 3 is located south of Red Cliffs on the Calder Hwy around a VicRoads road safety banner. The area is a depression and receives run-off from the road and surrounding paddocks. Buffel Grass plants are well-established.

survey or identification for weed control can be difficult due to similar-looking grasses. Spraying contractors need to be able to work from GPS data when populations have been previously identified. Buffel Grass is best treated during the warmer months when it is actively growing.

For more information For further information or to report suspected new populations, please contact Dr Ruth Raleigh on 5430 4429 or email a photo to ruth.e.raleigh@delwp.vic.gov.au

Winter provides an opportunity to survey for populations of Buffel Grass. Being dormant and appearing dead, it can be easier to see when surrounding vegetation is green and actively growing. In summer, unless plants are flowering,

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The Last Word

By Glen Sutherland

In recent issues The Last Word has focussed on the “Mallee’s Most Wanted”, highlighting some of our region’s more problematic invasive weeds. These have included African Boxthorn, Flaxleaf fleabane and cacti species such as Hudson Pear, Prickly Pear and Wheel Cactus. This edition looks at a well-known invasive pest animal and highlights some new work in the perpetual battle against the feral European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), in the Mallee and elsewhere. There is an old saying which goes: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” In the case of rabbit control this saying is very appropriate. There are often highly competitive demands on very limited resources when it comes to dealing with rabbits. When rabbit numbers are on the rise, land managers need to know where to invest their efforts and resources to achieve the best outcomes in terms of controlling rabbit numbers and minimising the harm they do to the environment. High quality accurate information is critical to good decision making and this is where RabbitScan comes into play. RabbitScan is a new ‘citizen science’ project involving people all over Australia. This new resource is an online, real time monitoring program designed to record rabbit infestation locations, population numbers, damage and environmental impacts and any treatment actions undertaken. RabbitScan provides a free web-site where people can upload information relevant to their local area. The technology provides a facility to allow individuals to print maps with data for their property or local area. RabbitScan also provides access to essential information and resources to address rabbit problems. This initiative is yet another by-product of the information revolution associated with smartphone applications, or apps. The beauty of this app is that it does not need onsite phone reception as it can store the information and download it automatically once reception becomes available.

The website will assist public land managers, farmers, community groups and individuals with the management of rabbits and reducing the damage they cause. Considering rabbit populations can change rapidly depending on prevailing conditions communities will potentially benefit from this technology by being able to readily track changes in rabbit populations and respond accordingly. The RabbitScan project is part of a national FeralScan Citizen Science program designed to support landholders, community groups, and anyone with a feral or pest animal problem anywhere in Australia. In the foreseeable future this technology will also be able to chart the spread of biological controls such as the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus and rabbit calicivirus. The project is an initiative of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) through the Australian government. Mapping tools and the project website are funded through the Australian Pest Animal Research Program, via ABARES. This program is also supported by Landcare Australia, Western Catchment Management Authority (NSW), Woolworths, Toshiba, the ABC, Ninti One Limited, and community groups Australia-wide.

The

Mallee Farmer Contact

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

www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

For more information or to join RabbitScan, visit http://www.feralscan. org.au/rabbitscan/

Acknowledgments

The Mallee Farmer relies heavily on the contributions received from the many individuals and organisations who support farming and the environment in the Mallee. Their support is greatly appreciated for without it, this publication would struggle to maintain its standards for providing relevant up to date and interesting information to the broader Mallee farming community. The Mallee Farmer is produced by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, in partnership with organisations across the region such as, the Victorian Department of Environment Land and Water Planning, Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF), Victorian No-Till Farming Association (VNTFA), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and specialist consultants. Funding for the publication is provided by the Australian Government. Glen Sutherland, Regional Landcare Facilitator, Mallee CMA T: 0417 396 973 E: glen.sutherland@depi.vic.gov.au

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