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The

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

p2

National Variety Testing results from Mallee wheat sites

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Canola establishment - problems and progress

ISSUE 04 • MARCH 2013

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Landcare News from across the region

Trialling break crops and nitrogen strategies What are the residual effects from previous year’s treatments? p4


The

Mallee Farmer

Contents A dry summer

1

National variety testing results from 2012 Mallee wheat sites

2

Trial break crops and nitrogen strategies

4

Canola establishment problems and progress

6

Taking woodland restoration to the 8 next level

Positive outlook from resilient farmers

Mallee farmers are holding on to a positive outlook for the season ahead, despite a dry start to the season. Let’s hope this resilience is rewarded with some good rain prior to sowing and steady commodity prices.

and Landcare groups reporting high rabbit numbers. Funding has recently been made available to a number of Landcare Groups in the region under the Victorian Landcare Grants scheme and I am pleased to note that most Landcare Groups are investing this money into rabbit control programs. I wish them every success!

One year of break crops influence soil water, nitrogen, disease and 10 weeds Different rotations for different Mallee soils

12

Protecting endangered species through rabbit control

14

Landcare News

15

Mallee Regional Waterway Strategy

23

Growth and grazing of perennial 24 shrubs Low risk of wind erosion can be maintained with break crops in rotation Using degradable polymers to enhance direct seeding

26 28

Soil-crop interactions and nutrient 30 dynamics under elevated CO2 Farming systems: the greatest wealth is in soil health

32

Rabbits are manageable

34

Managing grazing in large paddocks

36

ISSN: 1839 - 2229

Cover Image Field peas increased wheat yield by 0.7 t/ha in 2012. Story page: 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Mallee Farmer. It’s been a very dry start to the year across the Victorian Mallee – a stark contrast to the wet starts we had to the past two seasons. Although the lack of rain has helped to save on summer weed control, I am sure we will all be hoping for some decent rains throughout March and early April to improve the sub-soil moisture prior to sowing. Despite this challenging start to the year, dryland farmers across the region have continued to be resilient with many retaining a positive outlook for the season ahead. Hopefully, commodity prices will remain reasonable and provide a good outlook for the season. Unfortunately, rabbits seem to be thriving in the current conditions, with farmers 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

This edition of the Mallee Farmer is packed with the latest results from research trials into break crops; investigations into canola establishment problems; trials into grazing of perennial shrubs; and a really interesting look at innovative ways to manage grazing of stock in large paddocks. There’s also an eight-page colour feature on Landcare in the Victorian Mallee, which includes an update from each of the Landcare consortiums in the region and the valuable work they have been doing. On behalf of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Board and staff, I thank all those who have supported this edition of the Mallee Farmer as we continue to produce this valuable resource for our dryland farmers. I hope you enjoy this edition of the Mallee Farmer and look forward to the next one in August 2013. Sharyon Peart Chairperson Mallee CMA Board. advice on the applicability or otherwise of the information in this document. Neither the Mallee CMA nor any of the agencies/organisations/people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer endorse the information contained in this document, nor do they endorse any products identified by trade name. The information in this document is made available on the understanding that neither the Mallee CMA, nor any the people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer will have any liability arising from any reliance upon any information in this document.


The

Mallee Farmer

Crop yields were greater in the southern Mallee. Inset: Rob Sonogan.

A dry summer As late summer approaches the Mallee landscape is tinder-dry and sub-soil moistures are at record low levels. By

Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision, Agronomic Adviser

Seasonal Conditions

Moisture is only being detected in some fallow paddocks, so the Autumn breaking rains are going to be critical for the cropping program. The positive of this extended dry is that the summer weed control program has been minimal and levels of inoculum for rusts will be extremely low. However, the downside is the risk of residual chemicals due to insufficient rainfall and the resultant label plant-back periods that have not been met (or at best are very marginal) must be managed!

Plant-Back Concerns

Rainfall since July/August 2012 when chemicals such as Logran, On Duty, MIDAS, Lontrel and others were applied is as low as 60mm and rarely above 150mm. Carefully re-read your labels; get your advisors to highlight the issues that can eventuate from this very unusual low rainfall situation. Crop selection for

2013 will present difficulties in some paddocks unless significant rainfall occurs between now and sowing. Cereal and vetch stubbles may also present issues as you attempt to sow into them, as they have not have broken down as in recent years. Slashing and other measures may be necessary to prepare for sowing into these, especially if it is a more conventional seeding operation.

North to South Mallee Divide

Crop yields varied significantly due to rainfall last year and those in the southern Mallee have obviously removed more nutrients than those with lower yields in the north. Greater yields meant greater returns so the financial pressure towards funding inputs will vary. Replacement phosphorous (P) should be the minimal aim, but research has shown that in soils with Colwell readings of 15 to 20 ppm, P can be further reduced without crop yield loss. Seek advice if unsure of your situation.

Nitrogen (N) will be extremely low due to the extended dry and no mineralisation to date occurring. If it remains dry until close to sowing then adequate starter N rates of 12 to 20 kg/ha should be considered with cereals. The maximum N rate with the seed varies by sowing system. Soil testing for N now could underestimate its potential level and perhaps this season early in-crop soil testing could be more appropriate.

2012 - What A Great Result

Well done to all of you for your ability and skill that turned so little rainfall into grain. Water use efficiencies went skyhigh in comparison to 10 to 20 years ago and this reflects dramatic and positive changes in the areas of summer weed control, earlier sowing dates, varieties etc. Keep up the good work!

Contact

Rob Sonogan AGRIvision, Agronomic Adviser E: rob.sonogan@agrivision.net.au M: 0407 359 982

1


The

Mallee Farmer

National Variety Testing results from 2012 Mallee wheat sites Growers 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.

The varieties entered in each trial are those grown in that region and those in the advanced stages of testing or pending release. The results for each variety in 2012 and the average over recent years are available on the internet by searching ‘nvtonline’. Grain yield as well as quality and disease resistance ratings and other agronomic attributes are also available. It is strongly recommended that growers review information from a range of sites and not only the site closest to their farm, as well as the averages over several years to ensure they have robust information on which to base their variety decisions. Consultants and advisors can assist in selecting varieties that are suited to your soil types, farming system and expected rainfall. They can also assist with variety selection for problem paddocks where disease or weeds are added complications.

Wheat variety results

Yields from 2012 NVT wheat sites in the Victorian Mallee are presented in Table 1. They have been supplemented by results from Brim on the southern edge of the Victorian Mallee and Pinnaroo in the South Australian Mallee. Murrayville is not included as this site failed to provide reliable results due to the dry season. It is important when deciding which wheat variety to grow that you look at minimising risk and choosing a variety or varieties that have the traits you desire or are comfortable with. Unfortunately, there is no “one” wheat variety which ticks every agronomic box, so you must

2

103

99

99

100

95

Average

114

Brim

Quambat.

100

Ultima

124

Birchip

AGT Katana

Hopetoun

Variety

Manang.

Table 1. 2012 NVT wheat yields shown as a percentage of the average yield of all variety at the site, site average yields in t/ha and a colour coded ranking for the four highest yielding varieties Walpeup

These trials are coordinated by the Australian Crop Accreditation System for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and managed by independent contractors. Dodgshun Medlin is managing NVT trials in the Victorian Mallee, in conjunction with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Apart from 2012, the previous three years have been wet or damp harvests for many, which put ‘sprouting’ as a

Pinnaroo

Ivan Mock, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management.

Yitpi was virtually the benchmark for 10 years but is now out-dated by many higher yielding varieties. It stood the test of time with good yields as well as other favourable traits which reduced risk on farms. These included boron tolerance, good establishment on sands, very good

decide which wheat will best suit your farm and farming system.

Merrinee

By

desired trait for varieties. This is now a consideration for many when choosing a variety as this trait assists in protecting grain quality in such years.

104

Axe

103

93

104

94

100

94

89

95

98

97

Catalina

115

99

92

105

97

97

97

91

100

99

Clearfield Janz

56

94

85

93

96

95

91

89

98

88

Clearfield Stl

103

81

93

101

107

103

98

100

103

99

Cobra

88

89

106

88

103

108

96

105

96

98

Corrack

124

109

115

101

105

110

104

105

104

108

Correll

100

100

91

103

100

106

104

104

108

102

Dart

94

99

103

94

97

100

96

95

101

98

Derrimutt

91

109

Elmore CL Plus

74

92

103

102

102

100

94

108

100

98

104

107

102

97

100

102

98

Emu Rock

88

105

119

101

95

103

100

97

101

101

Espada

112

94

117

105

94

97

104

101

96

102

Estoc

106

96

101

102

107

93

100

106

100

101

Frame

109

95

79

92

94

99

102

102

96

96

Gaunlet

62

67

94

107

99

100

100

94

90

Gladius

109

97

105

98

103

98

93

99

94

100

Grenade

118

93

88

99

115

84

105

98

105

101

Justica CL Plus

100

91

95

102

97

93

97

90

96

96

Lincoln

68

93

97

93

95

96

82

98

90

90

Mace

118

107

130

103

109

104

101

97

108

109

Magenta

118

104

96

106

96

105

105

97

96

102

88

86

101

91

91

97

92

92

85

79

99

89

101

103

107

99

95

Merlin

91

Phantom

91

Scout

71

107

101

96

107

99

99

106

102

99

Shield

121

112

110

108

102

107

102

97

101

107

Spitfire

76

91

90

95

90

95

96

93

91

Wallup

88

90

92

90

94

94

104

93

93

Wyalkatchem

94

95

109

102

91

105

99

99

99

99

Young

68

81

99

95

92

96

84

88

105

90

0.34

2.08

1.03

1.92

2.08

3.56

2.23

2.37

3.00

2.07

Site average (t/ha) Yield ranking

1st

2nd

3rd

4th


The

Mallee Farmer

Some of the key traits farmers are now looking for in wheat varieties are (in no particular order): • Yield - trying to grow more kilograms of grain per millimetre of rain, especially in drier years; • Sprouting - minimising sprouting risk in case of a wetter harvest; • Rust resistance - needs to have stem rust resistance ideally, as well as some stripe rust resistance; • Low screenings - in dry years a variety needs to be able to fill grain well with low screenings, such as Yitpi did; • Cereal Cyst Nematode (CCN) tolerance - if possible, CCN is always a desired trait to avoid the old days of CCN damage; • Ability to perform on specific soil types - this could be sands or even boron tolerance; • Classification - the variety needs to suit the main quality grade in the area i.e. Hard/APW etc.; • Yellow leaf spot - this is not essential but if you are growing wheat on wheat, it’s desireable; and • Test weight (TW) - ideally the variety makes the TW easily so there is a bit of a comfort buffer. It’s all about looking at the best fit for your area, farming system and local adaptability. Some of the recent or main stream wheats that are of interest include: Scout - Being 50% Yitpi in its breeding, this variety has gained rapid acceptance in the Mallee with its good all round package. It has high yield and excellent sprouting resistance, low screenings and is now an Australian Hard wheat (AH) in Victoria. Scout has now replaced much of the Yitpi area as it is slightly earlier maturing and has better yield so has become a main stream wheat variety for many areas. The only potential downside is that it does not adapt as well to deeper sands as some other varieties. Mace - An excellent AH wheat that has Yellow Leaf Spot (YSL) tolerance and very good yields. It does perform better on deeper sands than some other varieties and has been the benchmark for wheat yields in South Australian and Victorian Mallee areas. The down sides are its stripe rust susceptibility and midrange sprouting tolerance. This is one of the best wheat on wheat options for growers who wish to do so. Corack (early to mid-maturity) - It has gained a lot of interest with its impressive yields in the NVT trials for the

Figure 1. Average yields of wheat varieties in Vic. Mallee NVT trials from 2005-11 and the number of trials they were in. (Error bars indicate yield differences for varieties to be significantly different) 2.6 2.4 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0

Scout Waagan Correll GBA Hunter Phantom Mace Axe Bullet Gladius Espada Magenta Corack Bumper Estoc Young AGT Katana Yipti Lincoln Peake Gascoigne Pugsley Wyalkatchem Derrimut GBA Ruby Tammarin Rock Guardian Wallup Livingston Emu Rock Sabel CL Plus Justica CL Plus Shield Elmore CL Plus Fang Catalina Kord CL Plus Endure Ventura EGA Wentworth Frame Annuello Janz Grenade CL Plus GBA Sapphire Clearfield Stl Dakota EGA Kidman Clearfield Jnz EGA Bounty Crusdaer Impose CL Plus

sprouting tolerance, reasonable stripe rust resistance, as well as being a hard wheat which has very low screenings. It ticked many boxes for Mallee farmers.

Avg Yield

previous two years. It is a Wyalkatchem derivative and has Australian Premium White (APW) classification. Corack does have CCN resistance and some sprouting tolerance. It also has stem rust resistance but lacks resistance to powdery mildew and black point. This variety provides a good risk management package and if it continues to perform well then the area sown will expand. Shield (early to mid-maturity) - Shield is a AH wheat which has excellent yields (including 2012 NVT trials) and a great rust package - probably the pick of the wheat varieties. It also has some acidic soil tolerance and a degree of sprouting tolerance. Correll - This variety has been around for a while and continues to do well in NVTs. Its only pitfalls are potentially low test weight in some years and also its sprouting tolerance. Yields have been very good for many who have grown it. It does have good CCN resistance and generally low screenings in most years. Espada - It has done well in recent years with very good consistent yields. It is a sister line to Gladius and thus does not have great sprouting tolerance. It is moderately susceptible to CCN and is currently classified as APW. Phantom - This wheat is bred from Yitpi and offers good CCN and sprouting tolerance. It is slightly longer maturing than Yitpi and thus may suit southern Mallee and Wimmera regions slightly better. It has better vigour than Scout on deeper sands and has the AH classification. Do keep an eye out for this variety in the coming years. Clearfield® wheats - for additional weed control options: Kord - Currently an Australian Standard White (ASW) wheat with very good

No. of Trials

yield and a step up from Clearfield STL, which was the previous Clearfield wheat available. Kord has good CCN tolerance, is not a sucker for rust and its growth habits are very similar to that of Gladuis, so be mindful of its sprouting tolerance. Its other pitfall is ASW classification but this may change in the future. Grenade - This has performed very well in 2012 NVT trials and has created a lot of interest with its solid yields and good sprouting tolerance. It is a twin gene Clearfield® wheat like Kord and is therefore a good option for those wishing to tack brome grass in crop or to avoid group B plant back constraints. It currently looks to have some advantages over Kord if the yields stack up over time. Justica - This is another Clearfield option derived from Galdius and Spear, with the benefit of better sprouting tolerance compared to Kord. It trials Kord and Grenade in yield and does not have the CCN package to match them. This is also a twin gene Clearfield® wheat and has APW classification. It can take a few years to get a good feel for a variety and its fit in your area. Varieties can perform differently from year to year and from region to region so look at the long term data if possible to see how the varieties you are considering perform across a range of seasons.

For more information

Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management Ivan Mock 0427 329 919 or Matt Witney 0428 329 919

3


The

Mallee Farmer

Trial break crops and nitrogen strategies

During the 2012 growing season, Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) with support from the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) investigated delivering a number of on-ground research and demonstration projects including investigating break crops impacts on soil health and nitrogen management options. Michael Moodie MSF.

Do soil health benefits from break crops translate into cereal yield benefits in low rainfall years ?

A range of break crops were grown in 2011 to measure fodder production and quality, and grain yields at the Crop Sequencing research site near Mildura. Break crop impacts were also measured, where soil nitrogen and soil water differences were found between the different crops (Table 1). Soil profile nitrogen levels were significantly higher following all legume treatments than nonlegume treatments. Differences were also measured for soil water content at the 60-120 cm depth layer. This soil layer was significantly drier under wheat than under field pea, vetch. The results of the 2011 research are available in Technical Bulletin #28 from the Mallee CMA website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au In 2012, the site was re-sown to cereal crops to determine any residual effects from the previous year’s treatments. The entire site was planted to Clearfield wheat in 2012 to determine if the break effects measured post harvest in 2011 would translate into production benefits. No nitrogen fertiliser was applied as triple-superphosphate was used. Grass weeds were controlled using Midas applied in-crop. Legume crops grown in 2011 improved both the dry matter and grain yield of the following wheat crop (Figures 1 and 2). The grain yield of wheat following field pea, vetch and medic pasture was significantly higher than the yields of wheat following wheat, barley and canola. There was a 0.7 t/ha yield advantage of growing wheat following a legume break crop over growing wheat on wheat in this trial. Furthermore, wheat following canola was also significantly higher than wheat on wheat or barley; however, the yield advantage was much smaller than for legume crops (0.35 t/ha).

4

The full results will be available later in the year from the Mallee CMA website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Nitrogen management tools and strategies for the low rainfall Mallee ? In 2011, a nitrogen management trial was established to demonstrate the use of decision support tools. Due to the extremely wet 2010-2011 summer where stored soil water levels were high and nitrogen levels were low (due to

leaching), high nitrogen rates ranging from 40 – 80 kg N/ha were applied. While high nitrogen rates promoted yield responses, nitrogen utilisation was low and much of the applied nitrogen was not utilised (Table 2). Furthermore, where 80kg N/ha was applied at sowing, it was found that establishment was severely affected. The results of the 2011 research are available in Technical Bulletin #29 from the Mallee CMA website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Table 1. 2011 post harvest mineral nitrogen (kg N ha-1) and soil water levels (mm) in the 0-60cm, 60-120cm and 0-120cm soil layers for each treatment. LSD = Least Significant Difference Soil Nitrogen kg N ha-1 0-60 cm

60-120 cm

Soil Water mm

0-120 cm

0-60 cm

60-120 cm

0-120 cm

Barley

10.5

10.5

21.0

58

88

146

Canola

12.0

12.0

24.0

60

83

143

Field Pea

28.5

21.0

49.5

58

90

148

Medic

19.5

24.0

43.5

52

87

140

Vetch

22.5

22.5

45.0

57

95

152

Wheat

6.0

9.0

15.0

58

79

137

Significance

0.002

LSD

n.s

14.9

0.037

n.s

0.008

21.2

n.s

9.4

3000 3000

2500 2500

2012 Wheat Matter (kg/ha) 2012 Wheat Dry Dry Matter (kg/ha)

By

2000 2000

LSD LSD

1500 1500

1000 1000

500 500

0 0

Wheat Wheat

Barley Barley

Canola Field Pea Canola Field Pea 2011Crop Crop 2011

Vetch Vetch

Medic Pasture Medic Pasture

Figure 1. Dry matter at flowering (kg/ha) of wheat in 2012 following the different crops in 2011.


The

Mallee Farmer The treatments where 80kg N/ha were applied in 2011 at sowing and at flowering had significantly higher grain yields in 2012 than all other treatments. These two plots had the highest residual

In 2012, the trial was re-sown back to scope barley with no nitrogen fertiliser (triple super phosphate applied) to see if the nitrogen that was not utilised by the crop in 2011 could be used by the 2012 crop. 1.8 1.8

1.6 1.6

20122012 Wheat Grain (t/ha) Wheat GrainYield Yield (t/ha)

1.4 1.4

LSD LSD

1.2 1.2

1 1

0.8 0.8

Further trials

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0

nitrogen (nitrogen fertiliser applied in 2011 – nitrogen removed in grain yield in 2012) levels of 57.9 and 56.7 kg N/ha (Table 2). Residual nitrogen in 2011 was plotted against barley grain yield in 2012 (Figure 3). There is a clear relationship between residual nitrogen and the 2012 barley grain yield (R2=0.86) suggesting that the nitrogen that was not used in 2011 was used by the 2012 crop. Grain proteins will be measured to determine how much of the nitrogen was utilised across the two growing seasons. The full results will be available from the Mallee CMA (www.malleecma.vic.gov.au) and MSF (www.msfp.org.au) websites later in the year.

Wheat Wheat

Barley Barley

Canola Canola

Field Pea Field Pea 2011 Crop Crop 2011

Vetch Vetch

Pasture MedicMedic Pasture

Figure 2. Grain yield (t/ha) of wheat in 2012 following the different crops in 2011.

The Mallee CMA also continued to fund MSF to undertake additional break crop and nitrogen management trials and demonstrations in 2012. These trials have investigated break crops grown at different row spacings and nitrogen/ sulphur fertiliser management options. The full results will be available from the Mallee CMA (www.malleecma.vic.gov.au) and MSF (www.msfp.org.au) websites later in the year or contact Michael Moodie at MSF (Michael@msfp.or.au)

Table 2. 2011 grain yields and grain protein for the different treatments. Yield and protein has been used to calculate the nitrogen removed in the grain and the residual nitrogen remaining. Nitrogen Fertiliser Applied (kg/ha)

Application Timing

2011 Grain Yield

2011 Grain Protein

Grain N Removal

Kg/ha

60-120 cm

kg/ha

Residual N kg/ha

10

Starter

1.021

8.9

15.9

-5.9

40

Sowing

1.328

11.13

25.9

14.1

40

Z31

1.281

9.47

21.2

18.8

80

Sowing

1.181

10.67

22.1

57.9

80

Z31

1.448

10.9

27.6

52.4

80

Flowering

1.12

11.87

23.3

56.7

Significance

n.s

0.048

LSD a

a

0.44

Not Statistically Analysed

1.6 Residual N is nitrogen fertiliser applied in 2011 – nitrogen removed in grain yield in 2012

1.5 R2 = 0.8585

2012 Grain Yield (t/ha)

1.4

Above. Harvesting a forage trial of wheat in 2011. 1.3

1.2

Acknowledgments

1.1

1 -10

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Residual N (2011 fertiliser N applied - grain N removed)

Figure 3. 2012 grain yield of barley compared to the residual nitrogen from 2011 for that treatment.

70

These projects were supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country, the Grains Development Research Corporation and the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

5


The

Mallee Farmer

Canola establishment – problems and progress

Canola is now a significant crop in the Mallee, providing diversification from cereals and a high value grain. However, poor canola crop establishment has been a widespread problem, particularly in the last two seasons. Areas of crop that fail to establish satisfactorily not only reduce potential yields and profitability but also expose the bare soil to additional risks of wind erosion and weed infestation. By

Ivan Mock, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management. A project to identify production systems that reduce the risk of poor canola establishment has recently been conducted in the Victorian Mallee, with support from the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country. Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management undertook the project, with additional support from industry partners. Investigations into canola establishment problems included a survey of growers on their experiences, monitoring commercial crops and replicated field plot experiments. Results from this work are outlined below and a full report will be available on the Mallee CMA website www.malleecma.vic.gov.au in mid 2013. Factors contributing to poor emergence 1. Soil types most at risk of poor establishment are the light sands and heavier clays that provide least water for the crop in dry seasons. Sands have limited capacity to store water from rains prior to sowing, while clays require more rainfall before any is available to germinate and grow the crop. Results from 2012 crop monitoring are listed in Table 1 and show that canola plant numbers in the poor emergence areas increased due to later emerging plants between one and two months after sowing. Delayed emergence resulted in smaller plants that provided less ground cover to protect the soil surface from erosion and lower potential grain yields. Most soil types require at least 50% ground cover to reduce the risk of wind erosion. 2. Early and delayed sowing times were compared in the field trials on sandy rises. Delaying sowing until soil moisture improves may increase the number of crop plants that establish but it also

6

Table 1. Factors associated with canola establishment rankings. Ground cover% 2 months

43

77

118

2376

26

33

17

52

780

16

29

8

33

588

% of sites

Good

41

Mid-slope

Sandy loam

41

Med.

32

Varied

Clay loamsandy loam

Poor

27

Flat or hill

Clay or light sand

Topography

Main Soil type

Ground cover % 1 month

Rank

Plants/m2 Plants/m2 1 month 2 months

Biomass DM kg/ha 2 months

delays plant growth and therefore the time until ground cover exceeds 50% and substantially reduces yield. Impacts for early and late sowing were quantified in field trial with results listed in Tables 2 and 3. Agronomic options to improve canola establishment Field trials were established at Walpeup and near Piangil on light sandy soils, where establishment problems are common, to quantify the impact of management options available to improve canola establishment. The options tested were combinations of sowing time (E = early and L = late), seeding rate (L = 1.5 kg/ha, M = 2.5 kg/ ha and H = 3.5 kg/ha) and sowing depth (S = 1.5-2.0 cm and D = 3-4 cm). For example, the ELS treatment is Early sown, Low seeding rate and Shallow sown. Early sowing was planned to be in midlate April, when most canola crops are sown and late sowing about 2-3 weeks later, to represent a grower who had delayed sowing until further rain fell. There was no defined seasonal break in 2012 so each sowing time was delayed until a few mm of rain fell. Tables 2 and 3 demonstrate the impact of the agronomic treatments evaluated under conditions conducive to canola establishment problems. These included low rainfall (growing season rainfall (GSR) in 2012 was 44% and 55% of the long term average for Walpeup and Piangil respectively) and sandy soils.

Above. Satisfactory establishment can result in good crops in dry years.

Conclusions

Results were obtained over the 2011 and 2012 cropping seasons when canola establishment problems were widespread across the Mallee. Both seasons had little rainfall over the normal canola sowing period from April to May. The conclusions on factors contributing to poor canola establishment and agronomic management to mitigate them are therefore most applicable to these conditions when problems with canola establishment are accentuated. Early sowing reduced the risk of wind erosion with poor canola establishment Early sowing in dry starts was not associated with rapid crop establishment or greater plant density but those plants that did establish were larger than those sown later and generally provided 5-10 times more ground cover to protect the soil early in the season. Adequate ground cover to reduce the risk of wind erosion was therefore achieved earlier in the season, although this was often still two or more months after sowing.


The

Mallee Farmer Increased seeding rates accelerated ground cover More plants established when the seeding rate was increased, although this was not always significant and often confounded by the effects of sowing time and seeding depth, which contributed to staggered germination extending over several months. When sowing was delayed until soil water improved, there was generally no need to use high seeding rates to achieve satisfactory canola plant densities. Sowing shallow may be an advantage when soils are dry and rainfall is light Where soil moisture at seeding depth was less than that required to germinate canola seed, then it required less rainfall to increase moisture in the surface 1-2 cm to achieve germination

than it did at 3+cm. Conversely, soils close to the surface will dry out quicker than those deeper in the profile unless follow-up rainfall occurs. Sowing depth had no significant impact on canola establishment when sowing was delayed to coincide with heavier rainfall events and slower soil drying, due to less evaporation from the surface.

Recommendations to reduce risks of poor establishment

Economic viability is improved with early sowing The significantly higher grain yields with early sowing were associated with the earlier development of the canola plants that enabled them to set more pods/plant and fill more grains/pod. Grain size and oil content was similar for all treatments. Early sowing in dry season may not provide a positive gross margin but the outcome is superior to late sowing.

(a) Stubble or trash cover needs to be maintained on the soil surface to reduce the risk of wind erosion until crops establish. This is particularly important with canola, which is often dry sown before there are clear indications that there will be a good seasonal break to ensure timely crop emergence.

Table 2: Plant density and ground cover, each at 2 periods in the growing season and grain yield components for 12 canola sowing treatments at Walpeup in 2012. Treatment Code ELS

25th July

14th August

12th & 22nd November

Plants /m2

Ground % cover

Plants /m2

Ground % cover

Biomass DM g/m2

Pods/ plant

Grains /pod

Yield t/ ha

27

25

32

182

63

71

18

0.41

ELD

9

8

20

127

66

85

24

0.31

EMS

37

34

36

163

115

58

20

0.50

EMD

21

9

11

69

63

87

19

0.41

EHS

47

40

30

130

78

55

18

0.50

EHD

20

10

15

95

119

82

19

0.41

LLS

31

3

29

45

24

65

12

0.15

LLD

21

2

21

35

31

46

15

0.17

LMS

44

7

34

54

27

39

16

0.18

LMD

13

1

25

42

25

52

15

0.19

LHS

53

5

54

103

44

39

16

0.20

LHD LSD (P=0.05)

36

3

25

40

33

41

17

0.20

22.7

16.95

20.7

72.1

42.2

30.9

7.9

0.13

Table 3. Plant density and ground cover, each at 2 periods in the growing season and grain yield components for 12 canola sowing treatments at Piangil in 2012. Treatment Code

2nd August

15th August

19th Nov. and 3rd Dec.

Plants /m2

Ground % cover

Plants /m2

Ground % cover

Biomass DM g/m2

Pods/ plant

Grains /pod

Yield t/ ha

ELS

28

51

35

180

73

147

19

0.73

ELD

33

63

29

175

75

142

20

0.58

EMS

45

76

49

191

75

97

21

0.74

EMD

28

47

25

178

73

128

22

0.59

EHS

69

98

71

244

91

84

20

0.80

EHD

29

52

34

178

67

125

21

0.65

LLS

41

7

39

41

21

60

10

0.08

LLD

50

8

40

41

13

75

11

0.09

LMS

65

11

56

47

23

56

13

0.11

LMD

65

10

49

45

14

55

14

0.10

LHS

85

13

79

59

29

53

15

0.10

LHD

103

17

71

46

29

49

12

0.10

LSD (P=0.05)

14.7

16.45

16.9

72.98

26.11

50.00

4.8

0.15

Results from the surveys in 2011 and 2012 and field trials have been used to develop guidelines to reduce the risks of poor canola establishment. These are listed below and will be encompassed in a Growers Guide being produced by the Mallee CMA.

(b) Light sandy and heavier clay soils have the worst emergence problems in dry seasons so consider if there are better options than canola on these soils when a poor start to the season is predicted and particularly if ground cover before sowing is less than 50%. (c) Sow early if the decision has been made to sow canola, possibly due to weed or disease problems in the paddock. Delayed sowing will only extend the period until crop ground cover develops and increase the length of time that surface soils are most at risk of erosion. Also, canola yields will be low in dry seasons in the Mallee but far worse if sowing is delayed. (d) Maintain the recommended seeder settings when there is a dry start to the season. The difference in seed cost between low and average seeding rates will be recovered in additional yield, with the added bonus of more rapid ground cover. High seeding rates may not be justified. Shallow sowing, typically used with canola, will result in better crop establishment when soils are dry and light rains follow. Deeper sowing is unlikely to have any advantages unless sowing is delayed after more substantial rainfall.

Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the Mallee CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country.

For more information

Contact Ivan Mock, Research and Development Leader, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management. M: 0427 329 919

7


The

Mallee Farmer

Feral goats are a risk to ongoing recovery.

Taking woodland restoration to the next level

Parks Victoria has begun delivering a Federal Biodiversity Fund project in the Victorian Mallee, valued at $3 million over six years. By

Brendan Rodgers, Parks Victoria The Biodiversity Fund is part of the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution and increase the amount of carbon stored on the land. The project “Restoring and reconnecting threatened woodlands in Mallee Rangelands of Victoria” is the next phase in the restoration of our non-eucalypt woodlands such as Slender Cypresspine, Buloke and Belah. These woodlands are listed by the Australian Government as endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 and have a history of degradation due to over-grazing by stock, rabbits, and goats. In the process of restoring the woodlands, carbon will be sequestered in the form of new trees across the Mallee landscape.

8

The Mallee has an existing rangeland recovery project ‘Mallee Bounceback’ which is supported by the Department of Sustainabilty and Environment’s Weeds and Pests Program. This has achieved a generally high standard of rabbit control across the semi-arid woodlands and significant recruitment of Slender Cypress-pine, Buloke and Sugarwood. However, a large proportion of the woodlands have yet to exhibit regrowth due to the loss of parent trees or other factors. The Biodiversity Fund project will take woodland restoration to the next level by incorporating landscape scale goat control and active revegetation by direct seeding and tubestock planting. With higher standards of rabbit control achieved through ‘Mallee Bounceback’, browsing by goats is now recognised as a risk to ongoing recovery in many areas of the Mallee. Because goats are highly mobile, moving between public and private land, a landscape approach

is needed. This is likely to involve a combination of strategic fencing, closure of artificial water sources and shooting.

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) is already a partner with Parks Victoria in the conduct of goat control in Mallee parks. Since the program started in 2002, over 4500 goats have been shot by SSAA volunteers and parks staff. It is proposed that this program be expanded and complemented with aerial shooting in the future. Effective goat control will require the cooperation of park neighbours where goats may be watering on farmland. An aerial census of goats has recently been completed within MurraySunset National Park to quantify the problem and to serve as a benchmark against which reductions in abundance can be measured. The census in early November 2012 estimated the current density of goats as 1.4 per km2, with an estimated population of approx. 8,100. Within the broader restoration areas of 80,000ha, smaller ‘protection’ areas have been identified as zones for active revegetation works.


The

Mallee Farmer Direct seeding will commence in autumn of 2013 at Pine Plains. (Wyperfeld National Park) and in the junction between Neds Corner Station (Trust for Nature) and Murray-Sunset National Park. Over the successive four years, approximately 1300ha of new woodland trees and shrubs will be established. The fostering of new tree seedlings will require enhanced standards of grazing management, particularly rabbit control. This will involve treatments at shorter intervals and regular monitoring of known warren sites. Parks Victoria has an existing panel of rabbit control contractors who will be the key to delivery of enhanced standards of rabbit control within the protection zones. Parks Victoria has a host of partners in the delivery of the Mallee Biodiversity Fund project. They include Trust for Nature, Greenfleet, SSAA, Greening Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE), Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), the Mallee farming community and our rabbit control contractors. Co-investment from our partners will be important, as will be the innovation they bring to the project tasks. Advice will be sought from landholders who adjoin restoration areas within the Mallee parks on the best landscape measures to promote woodland recovery. It is anticipated that the project will result in progressive improvements in the condition of our non-eucalypt woodlands on both public and private land. This will store carbon and improve the quality of habitat for a range of fauna including our declining woodland birds such as the Major Mitchell Cockatoo and White-browed Treecreeper.

Acknowledgments

This article has been developed with the support of the Australian government. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Government.

Above. Scope of “Restoring and Connecting Australia’s threatened non-Eucalypt Woodlands in the Mallee rangelands”. Below left. Slender Cypress-pine at Hattah. Below right. Woodland at Murray Sunset National Park.

9


The

Mallee Farmer

One year of break crops influence soil water, nitrogen, disease and weeds This crop sequencing project is identifying the effects that different break crops and rotations have on Mallee farming systems.

A number of parameters that are commonly influenced by rotations were measured to quantify the impact of the different break crops in low rainfall environments. These were soil water, nitrogen, soil disease and grass weeds.

Soil water

Soil water was measured post harvest in 2011. Figure 1 shows that there were significant differences between many treatments for the amount of water remaining in the profile (0-120cm). 180

By

Micheal Moodie, Mallee Sustainable Farmimg.

LSD LSD 140 140

120 120

0-30cm

Soil Water Soil (mm) Water (mm)

0-30cm

100 100

30-60cm

Canola, TT*

Chickpea

Canola, TT*

Peas

Canola, TT*

Vetch

Chickpea

Canola, TT*

Fallow

Canola, Clearfield

Fallow

Fallow

180 180

Fallow

Peas

160 160

Pasture, High seed bank

Pasture, volunteer

Pasture, Low seed bank

Pasture, volunteer

Peas

Canola, TT*

*Triazine Tolerant

10

w FFa allol w lo

y

M

eMd OOa iecdic tas ts PaPa ssttu urre e (L (Low ow) ) FFiie elld dPe Pae a CCa nao nloa l(aTT T) T

t WW he haet a

CC tc anan h oolla aP eMd Peea iecd aMix iPc M aPas ix stt uurr ee ( (HHig ihg) h) C Ch hiick ckpe pae a

BBa arlre lye

FFaall lolow w

y

edM OOa iced atst PicaP s satst uurre e (L (Low ow) ) FFi i eelld dP Peea a CCa anno olal ( aTT T)T M

Wheat

B

00

BBaa rrle ley

Wheat

M

20 20

t

Wheat

90-120cm 90-120cm

40 40

M

Fallow

60-90cm 60-90cm

60 60

((CC llee aar frie filed l)d )

Wheat

30-60cm 30-60cm

80 80

aon loala

Wheat

Peas

0-30cm 0-30cm

100 100

aCn

Oats

VVe tec h

120 120

C

Wheat

)

ol l aa

CC ana on

140 140

Canola Clearfield Wheat Canola/Pea Mix

A

((CCle lear afire flide) ld

00

W Wh heea ta

Wheat

20 20

CC ana h onlol aa P edM Peea iced aM Mix Pica ix Psa tsutu rree ((HHi gigh h) ) CCh hiic ckkp peea a

Barley

90-120cm

VVe etcth c

Peas

90-120cm

Soil WaterSoil (mm) Water (mm)

Canola, TT*

60-90cm

40 40

Second year 2012)

Vetch

60-90cm

60 60

First year (2011)

Vetch

30-60cm

80 80

Table 1. Treatments (rotations) implemented in the Mallee crop sequencing trial.

Vetch

On average, all treatments accumulated approximately 30mm of soil water between harvest and sowing, while the fallow treatment did not accumulate any

160 160

A long term trial was established in 2011 near Mildura on a sandy soil where more than 10 cereal crops had been previously grown consecutively. In 2011, nine different break options were established, along with a continuous wheat treatment. In 2012, a second break phase was implemented (two year break) or the rotation was returned to wheat (one year break) (Table 1). In 2013, all rotations will return to cereals.

Peas

The highest soil water levels occurred under the fallow and then the canola TT (Triazine Tolerant) and field pea treatments. The significant differences between treatments occurred in the 30-60 and 60-90cm layers. However, by sowing in 2012, there were no significant differences between any treatments.

Figure 1. Total soil water remaining in the profile (0-120) after harvest in 2011 (A) and soil water in the profile prior to sowing in 2012 (B). The least significant difference (LSD) of total profile soil water (0-120cm), is also displayed.


The

Mallee Farmer

Nitrogen

Legume break crops had a significant effect on the amount of mineral nitrogen available prior to sowing in 2012 (Figure 2). Field pea and chickpea plots contained approximately 20 kg/ha more mineral nitrogen than the plots where wheat, barley, oats and the Clearfield canola were grown in 2011. More nitrogen was also found under field pea and chickpea than under a canola-pea mix and low seed-bank medic pasture.

140 140

LSD

LSD

120 120

LSD

100 100

Nitrogen (kg/ha) (kg/ha) Mineral Mineral Nitrogen

additional water. This is presumably due to the soil profile being full prior to the fallow treatment being implemented (a result of the 2010-2011 summer and 2011 growing season rainfall).

Disease

80 80

0-60cm 0-60cm

60 60

60-120cm

60-120cm

40 40

20 20

Table 2: Brome grass seed bank numbers measured prior to sowing 2012

Fi el Fiel d dP Pe ea a

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

Peas

Pe as

llo

w

Fallow

Fa

ld le ar fie

a

Canola Cl

2011 Crop

C

C

an

ol

a

an ol

a

C

ix M

at

Wheat

W he at

Canola Pea Mix

s

Oats

O

rle

y

Barley

Pe

00

2011 Crop

Figure 3. 2012 Grain yields of wheat following a one year break phase in 2011.

Grain yield

Barley

18

abc

Oaten Hay

108

a

Clearfield Canola

0

c

Canola Pea Mix

2

c

Field Pea

31

abc

Fallow

2

abc

0.04

Future work

Significance

hi Chi ck ckp pe ea a

0.8 0.8

a

Note: Letters indicate which treatments were significantly different.

C

11

81

Wheat

Brome Grass (plants m2)

Fa Fal llolow w

M

1.2 1.2

The grain yield of wheat in 2012 following different break phases in 2011 is compared in Figure 3. While wheat yield following field pea and fallow were higher than wheat following other crops. The field pea and the fallow treatments had the highest nitrogen levels (Figure 1) among the treatments that were replanted to wheat in 2012, therefore nitrogen would appear to be a key driver of the break effect.

Crop

Ve Vet tc ch M h st edic ur Pas e ture (H ( H ig igh) h) ic ed

ed

C

Pa

an

O Oats at s ol Ca a- nol Pe a-Pe a a Mi M x ix C an Ca ol nola a TT TT

W

W

heheat at

anCano ol la a C

Pa M stedic P ur ast e ure (L ( L o oww) )

ic

Ba B rlaerley y M 1.4

Ba

Weed seed banks were measured prior to sowing by taking soil cores from each plot and growing the weeds out in trays during winter. Brome grass is the most prevalent grass weed at the site and the treatments had a significant effect on the brome grass seed bank prior to sowing (Table 2). The continuous wheat and the oaten hay treatments had higher seed banks than the Clearfield canola and the canola-pea mix. Brome grass tended to build up in the oaten hay due to a lack of preemergent and in-crop chemical options for control. Therefore, timely cutting of hay (the hay cut may have been slightly later than desired) and post harvest control of surviving plants is critical to ensure viable brome grass seeds are not carried over to the following crop.

Figure 2. Mineral nitrogen in the soil profile (0-120cm) prior to sowing in 2012 (B). LSD is the least significant difference of total profile mineral nitrogen (0-120cm).

2012 Wheat Yield (t/ha)

Weeds

00

2012 Wheat Yield (t/ha)

Rhizoctonia was the most prevalent root disease at the site and high levels of the disease were promoted by growing a cereal break crop (barley and oats). However, the Clearfield and TT canola, and the canola-pea mix treatments had significantly lower Rhizoctonia disease levels than what was measured under the cereal crops. Chickpeas and the chemical fallow were also effective at minimising Rhizoctonia. Other soil diseases were not prevalent at the site, with the exception of blackspot, which built up under field peas. Therefore, field peas should never be grown back on field pea stubbles.

This trial will continue for a further two years, with all treatments returning to

a continuous cereal phase in 2013 and 2014. This will allow us to determine the effects of two year break phases and monitor how long the break effects last.

For more information

Further and more detailed information about the project and results can be found in the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) compendium. www.msfp.org.au or contact Michael Moodie at Michael@msfp.org.au

11


The

Mallee Farmer

Canola used as a break crop in cereal rotations.

Different rotations for different Mallee soils

Mallee farmers recognise that including non-cereal break crops in their cereal rotations is likely to improve subsequent wheat production and the overall sustainability of cropping. By

Angela Clough and Dave Monks, DPI

Introduction

However, more localised information was required to determine which break crops were suited to the Mallee, given the variation in soil types commonly found in any given paddock. For the last three years, the benefits of including break crops in cereal rotations has been assessed by including the break crops canola, lupins, hay, or chemical fallow in wheat rotations on three soil types: dune, slope and swale.

12

This article is focussed on the overall profitability of the three year sequences implemented on a dune, slope and swale in a long-term cereal paddock near Ouyen (lat. 35.056 S, long. 142.331 E).

Site overview

Average long-term annual rainfall: 334mm Annual rainfall: 2010 - 558mm, 2011 487 mm, 2012 - 179mm Average long-term growing season (April - October) rainfall: 214mm Growing season rainfall: 2010 -272mm, 2011 - 167mm, 2012 -99mm Initial topsoil nutrition: Organic Carbon (OC) 0.4 - 0.6%, pH(H2O) 7.7 - 7.9, Colwell Phosphate 21-44 mg/kg Initial mineral Nitrogen in 2010: 50 - 103 kg/ha to 100cm.

Key Points

• Break crops can be a profitable part of rotations in the Mallee; • Soil type influences the profitability of including break crops in rotations; • Including break crops improved profitability of cropping on the dune; • Including a non-cereal break did not improve profitability of cropping on the swale; • Chemical fallows were a poor economic option on all soil types.

Breaks

• Wheat and Hay – Yitpi (60kg/ha) • Canola – Pioneer 43C80 (1 and 3kg/ ha) • Lupins – Mandelup (50 and 100kg/ ha) • Chemical fallow – fallow by herbicide application under no-tillage conditions


The

Mallee Farmer Rotations

• Wheat – break crop – wheat • Break crop – wheat - wheat

Fertilisers

For the first two years, fertiliser was applied at sowing as Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP) (0-50kg/ha) and during the season as urea (0-87kg/ ha). In addition, foliar zinc was applied to wheat in the first and last years. The rates of MAP and urea were determined in consultation with local farmers using Yield Prophet® and district practices as a guide and varied by soil type. In the final year (2012), wheat on the dune received urea at sowing only while wheat on the swale received urea during the season only (both at 87 kg urea/ ha). Wheat on the slope had a more complicated fertiliser program: wheat immediately after canola and two years after fallow received 174kg urea/ha split equally between sowing and during the season; wheat after any other crop received 43kg urea/ha at sowing and 87kg urea/ha during the season.

Crop performance

The chosen paddock had a history of continuous wheat production. This is common in the Mallee and presents a high risk that the next wheat crop will have symptoms of foliar and root disease. Unsurprisingly, wheat grown on all soil types had yellow leaf spot (Pyrenophora tritici-repentis) early in the season. There was also some evidence of rhizoctonia in the dune which was confirmed by soil and plant testing. It is also worth noting the higher than average rainfall in the first year, exceptionally high in the summer between the first and second year, and far lower than average in the last year. First year Break crops grown in the first year yielded 0.5 – 1.5 t grain/ha and 4.2 – 6.2 t hay/ha. Wheat yielded 1.7 – 2.7 t/ ha across the three soil types and grain proteins were lower than required to make milling grade (APW). Second year In the following year, wheat was grown after the break crops and a second set of break crops (hay discontinued) were grown after the initial wheat. Break crops yielded under 1 t/ha for all but the high input lupins on the dune (1.3 t/ ha). Lupins grown on the slope were yellow and stunted most likely due to the high soil pH. Wheat grown after a break crop yielded 1.3 - 2.2 t/ha across the three soil types. Only on the dune did the wheat after a break crop yield higher than continuous wheat. As in the first year, wheat proteins were too low to meet APW grade.

Third year In the final year, when only wheat was grown, yields were 0.8 – 2.1 t/ha and grain met APW grade. The average wheat yield after a break crop was 1.3 t/ha on the dune, 1.5 t/ha on the slope and 1.0 t/ha on the swale. These yields were similar to the yields attained by the continuous wheat: 1.5 t/ha on the dune, 1.3 t/ha on the slope and 1.0 t/ha on the swale.

Table 1. Cumulative profitability of all treatments at Ouyen (2010 – 2012) relative to continuous wheat. Treatments were only compared within the same soil type. Treatments marked with dark shading were at least 20% more profitable, mid shading were at least 20% less profitable and light shading were within 20% of the profitability of continuous wheat. Treatments over 3 years (2012 all wheat)

Dune

Slope

Profitability

Swale

$ return/ha

Grain yields in the final year showed that there was little yield advantage to the following wheat from a break crop on any of the soil types at this site and under these seasonal conditions. An analysis of grain production from an economic perspective also showed no advantage of including a break crop on the swale soils instead of cropping continuous wheat. Conclusions for the dune and slope soils are less stark and favour the inclusion of some break crops (Table 1).

Continuous wheat

424

552

706

Low lupin 2010 / Wheat 2011

479

757

511

High lupin 2010 / Wheat 2011

425

553

404

Low canola 2010 / Wheat 2011

*

533^

589

High canola 2010 / Wheat 2011

553

675

636

Fallow 2010 / Wheat 2011

335

422

371

On the dune, all break crops except fallow were at least as profitable as continuous wheat, especially hay and high input canola. On the slope, results were mixed; with break crops included two years prior to the final wheat crop tending to be more profitable than break crops included immediately prior to the final wheat crop. This was related to differences in the yields of break crops in the different seasons.

Hay 2010 / Wheat 2011

717

828

820

Wheat 2010 / Low lupin 2011

610

540

443

Wheat 2010 / High lupin 2011

650

396

356

Wheat 2010 / Low canola 2011

505

507

548

Wheat 2010 / High canola 2011

529

633

485

Wheat 2011 / Fallow 2011

394

577

452

Conclusions

Including break crops in the Mallee is an option that has financial merit depending on soil type and choice of break crop. Rotation from continuous wheat to a break crop will also have benefits on the following wheat crop in paddocks where root and foliar diseases are prevalent (Kirkegaard et al. 2008). However, the agronomic benefits of including break crops were not always obvious at this site and under these seasonal conditions. Most break crops trialled were economically beneficial on the dune, while including hay and canola on the swale in the first year gave similar profitability as continuous wheat. Chemical fallow was a consistently poor economic option on all soil types. Poor profitability with a winter fallow supported the trend away from fallowing in the Mallee and gives further incentive for growers to interrupt cereal production with canola or lupins rather than fallow.

References

Kirkegaard J, Christen O, Krupinsky J, Layzell D (2008). Break crop benefits in temperate wheat production. Field Crops Research 107 185-195. Rural Solutions SA (2010). Farm Gross Margin Guide 2010. Government of South Australia. pp84. http://www.grdc.com.au/ uploads/documents/fgmg_2010_lowres-Part1. pdf

20% lower than continuous wheat same as continuous wheat 20% higher than continuous wheat Note: Input costs were seed, seed dressing, fertiliser, inoculants, end-point royalties, harvest and haymaking (i.e. mowing, raking, baling). Cost of seed was sourced from a retailer in the Mallee. Other costs and grain selling price (five year average) for lupin and canola were from Rural Solutions SA (2010). Wheaten hay was estimated at $100/t. * Excluded from analysis due to poor crop emergence in 2010. ^ Large variation between replicates - consider with caution.

Acknowledgments

Research was funded by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Victoria. Field work by Mick Brady and Chris Davies (DPI) is gratefully acknowledged as is the contribution by our collaborators at CSIRO, Mallee Focus and Mallee Sustainable Farming.

13


The

Mallee Farmer

Protecting endangered species and communities through rabbit control The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has provided targeted devolved grants to Mallee land managers to deliver a strategic control program to reduce the impact of rabbits on threatened species and communities. By

Gareth Lynch, Mallee CMA On-ground works will be delivered by the Mallee and Nyah West Landcare Groups, and Parks Victoria. These on-ground works will specifically focus on controlling rabbits to promote the regeneration and recovery of Buloke Woodlands, Winged Peppercress and Rigid Spider-orchid, which are listed as endangered under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999. Buloke woodlands comprise of woodlands to 15m tall and occur across the region in fragmented remnants. The larger remnants are mainly restricted to Hattah-Kulkyne, Murray-Sunset and Wyperfeld National Parks. Bulokes have long, wiry branchlets instead of leaves with dark, rough bark and flat, woody cones that contain seeds. Slender

14

Cypress-pine, Belah and Sugarwood are common overstorey species. Eucalypts are generally not prominent in these woodlands. Currently, the most pressing threat to Buloke woodlands is a severe lack of regeneration of overstorey trees. Rabbits, kangaroos and stock graze on seedlings and prevent trees from regenerating. Winged Peppercress (Lepidium monoplocoides) is a small native annual herb about 20cm in height, while the Rigid Spider-orchid (Caladenia tensa) is a perennial orchid, reaching up to 30 cm in height when flowering. Both species have suffered a decline in population and distribution, mainly due to the destruction or degradation of habitat by weed invasions and browsing by rabbits. In the Mallee CMA region, the Winged Peppercress is known at Wyperfeld and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks, while the Rigid Spider-orchid has been recorded in the vicinity of Wood Wood. Control works

will be focused on these target areas to improve the regeneration of threatened plants and communities and promote the growth of seedlings. The treatment of rabbits will also have broader benefits to the agricultural landscape through increased soil health and production. Control works will be completed using a number of different control methods, including fumigation, ripping and baiting. Treatment works started in February 2013 and are expected to finish in June 2013. During this time, all adjoining landholders are encouraged to participate in the control of rabbits to ensure maximum results are achieved.

Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the Mallee CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country.

For more information

Contact the Mallee CMA on 03 5051 4377 or visit the Mallee CMA website www.malleecma.vic.gov.au


LANDCARE LINKS

March 2013

Welcome to Landcare Links

Contacts

Kevin Chaplin - Regional Landcare Coordinator. Phone: 03 5051 43670

Above: Kevin Chaplin joins in with the Red Cliffs Landcare group to plant some trees. Photo: Mallee CMA.

Hello and welcome to the first edition of

as well as your neighbours’. We encourage

Landcare Links, a quarterly newsletter

everyone who would like to contribute to

to keep you informed on all things

the newsletter to do so through their local

Landcare in the Mallee at both a group/

Landcare Facilitator or Coordinator.

consortium and regional level. The newsletter is designed to be a This newsletter will coincide with the

communication tool that groups can use

seasons and be available to all community

to raise their profile and encourage greater

members, whether they are involved in

community participation in Landcare. It will

Landcare or not. The main objective of

help to promote greater understanding and

this newsletter is to support, promote and

pride in the protection and enhancement of

celebrate Landcare activities and projects

their local surroundings, as well as being a

as they happen across the region and we

pipeline for information and opportunities

are looking forward to getting everyone

that will help our region remain a vibrant

involved. As you will see inside, the newsletter is made up of six sections reflecting the current arrangement of four Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative (VLLFI) supported Landcare group consortiums;

and active place to live. So I would now like to invite you to grab a coffee (or tea), sit back, put your feet up and relax for 20 minutes and immerse yourself in what we hope you will find to be a very informative, enlightening and entertaining publication, please enjoy.

our independent group coordinators located in the Mallee; and an overall Mallee

Regards,

regional section. Through this approach we

Kevin Chaplin

hope to be able to keep you up to date with

Regional Landcare Coordinator

what is happening in your own backyard

Mallee Catchment Management Authority

www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Patrick Mickan - Northern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 03 5051 4320 Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group; Yelta Landcare Group; Kulkyne Way Landcare Group; and Red Cliffs Landcare Group. Daniel Huttig - South Western Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0409 655 646 Beulah Landcare Group; Hopetoun Landcare Group; Rainbow and District Landcare Group; and Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group. Jess Cook - South Eastern Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0409 615 846 Berriwillock Landcare Group; Birchip Landcare Group; Culgoa Landcare Group; Lalbert Landcare Group; Nullawil Landcare Group; and Ultima Landcare Group.

Kim Cross - 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; and Robinvale Landcare Group. Kate Nickolls - Murrayville Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0477 550 161 Murrayville Landcare Group. Mick Peters - Mallee Landcare Group Coordinator. Phone: 0428 561 373 Mallee Landcare Group.

15


LANDCARE LINKS

March 2013

Northern Mallee Landcare News

by Patrick Mickan

Above: Emma Johnston and Brody Tanner from Red Cliffs Community Landcare Group watering in the first seedlings they planted.

talk to the students about some of the Above: 25th anniversary of Landcare, the Millewa-Carwarp Landcare group celebrated at the Millewa Pioneer Park Open Day.

activities that Landcare is involved in.

Hello Landcarers, 2013 is set to be a

to develop a project within a limited time

The media kit includes two iPads and a

busy year for Landcare in the Northern

period. Please contact me if you are

digital SLR camera and will be available for

Mallee with groups running a range of

interested in joining a Landcare group or

schools to use to help students learn about

diverse projects and activities, including

your group would like assistance to plan

the environment around them. Thanks

plant propagation and revegetation,

and develop a Landcare project.

must go to Steve Curran who organised

salinity reclamation, walking track

the event and put the media kit together.

construction and integrated pest

Victorian Landcare Grants 2012/13

management programs.

Announced

The Millewa-Carwarp Landcare group

The Northern Mallee Landcare Consortium

celebrated the 25th anniversary of

Many of these projects have been funded

was successful in securing around

Landcare at the Millewa Pioneer Park

through the Victorian Landcare Grants, one

$ 80,000.00 dollars in grants that will fund

Open Day held at Meringur on the 7th of

of many sources of funding available to

a wide variety of projects.

October. The group promoted Landcare

Landcare and community groups.

to the wider community while giving 600

Landcare 25th Anniversary Grants

trees to people attending the event and

Part of my role as a Landcare facilitator

Yelta Landcare and Millewa-Carwarp

also sponsored a barbeque lunch that was

is to provide support to Landcare and

Landcare groups were both successful

enjoyed by all who attended. To mark the

community groups with project planning

in receiving grants to celebrate the 25th

event, a sign will be erected at the park

and development. Most grant applications

anniversary of Landcare in 2012.

commemorating the 25th anniversary of

are only open for around six weeks;

Landcare.

however, they may take months before

The Yelta Landcare group held a concert

they are assessed and groups are notified

at Merbein P-10 College to mark the event

Planet Ark National Tree Day

if their submission has been successful.

and launch the Landcare group’s new

The Red Cliffs Community Landcare Group

That’s why it’s important to start planning

media kit. Students from Our Lady’s and

hosted a planting site for School’s National

and developing projects early, taking a

The Lake PS also attended. Entertainer

Tree Day last year, held on the 27th of

proactive approach, instead of reacting

Peter Denahy made sure everyone enjoyed

July. Students from Red Cliffs and Irymple

to a funding announcement and rushing

themselves and I had the opportunity to

secondary colleges attended the event and

Table 1: The Northern Mallee Landcare Consortium was successful in securing around $80,000.00 dollars in 2012/13 Victorian Landcare Grants that will fund a wide variety of projects. Community Group

Project Title

located in Kings Billabong Park.

Grant

Yelta Landcare Group

The Merbein Loop Track

Red Cliffs Community Landcare Group

Plant Propagation and Revegetation Project

$ 14,930.00

Kulkyne Way Landcare Group

Salinity reclamation and control program on Brownport Road

$ 19,600.00

Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group

Rabbit Control & Remnant Protection Project

$ 34,931.60

16

planted over 300 trees at Psyche Pumps

$ 9,800.00

After the planting and watering was completed students enjoyed a picnic lunch at the site. Students from both schools had a great time and are looking forward to the next event, for many students it


was the first time they had planted a tree. The Landcare group is looking to continue this good work and is planning two more revegetation activities in autumn. Some time ago the Kulkyne Way Landcare group successfully applied for a Landcare Volunteer Recruitment Initiative Grant. The grant enabled the group to provide assistance to four schools Irymple South PS; Mildura West PS; and Red Cliffs and Irymple secondary colleges, to complete school environmental management plans. The schools used templates developed by the group’s secretary Fiona Murdoch. These plans have now been completed and many of the objectives identified in the plans are starting to be implemented. To assist the schools achieve the objectives indentified in their plans, schools were given funds to help them implement environmental projects. Many schools used the funds to start veggie gardens, build chook yards and

Above: Ian McNabb prepares for planting.

Above: All help is happily accepted, Ian’s brother in law Neil hard at work on the Landcare groups tree planter

Recent activities and current projects

the new community centre (currently being

The Millewa-Carwarp Landcare group is

constructed), past the historical palms

undertaking a number of projects including:

on Main Avenue North, and across to the

remnant protection and revegetation of 12

existing Foster Street walking track. The

ha of private land; a rabbit control project,

track will provide access from the centre

ripping rabbit warrens on roadsides; and

of Merbein, to the region’s main attraction,

a coordinated 1080 baiting campaign

the Murray River.

the group is also planning a shooting competition that will be held on 15-17th

Grants update

March.

The Community Landcare Grants

improve waste management. Thanks should

“Sustainable Agriculture” stream close at

also go to Edwina Butler the Regional Waste

The Kulkyne Way Landcare group applied

5pm on 20th of March. This funding source

Management Group’s education officer

for a “Communities for Nature grant” in

provides grants from $5000 to $50,000

and all the teachers that helped make this

2012. If successful the group plans to run

to help local community groups in their

project possible.

a coordinated 1080 baiting campaign and

delivery of natural resource management.

a Murray River Turtle conservation project

Millewa-Carwarp Landcare group:

to protect nest sites along Carwarp Creek

The Community Landcare Grants aim to

projects and people

from fox predation, as foxes can destroy

help build a skilled and capable Landcare

Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group Salinity

around 95% of Murray River Turtle nests.

community; encourage community participation and engagement in Landcare;

Management Project: This project aims to mitigate the damage done by increased

Red Cliffs Community Landcare group is

share information and learning on

salt loads in the Yatpool Basin and lower

busy developing a veggie garden and

sustainable agricultural techniques; reduce

the highly saline water table by planting

plant propagation area that will enable the

the spread of pest species; and adopt

Old Man Salt Bush. Ian McNabb along

group to raise its own vegetable seedlings

improved sustainable land management

with his son, David, have been growing

and trees and shrubs for revegetation

practices.

Eyre’s Green and Old Man Saltbush on

projects. The group is also planning a field

their property near Carwarp for a number

trip to “Neds Corner”, ,Victoria’s largest

Proposals may focus on on-ground

of years and are having great results. David

privately owned conservation reserve.

activities and/or capacity building in the

applied for a Victorian Landcare grant last

The group will help to revegetate part of

natural resource management community.

year and successfully received funding to

the 30,000 hectare property and learn

Successful projects will likely receive initial

plant 95 000 Old Man Saltbush on 185 ha

how the property is managed to maintain

funding in August 2013 and projects should

of salt affected land in the Yatpool Basin.

vital ecosystem processes, such as

be completed within 18 months of funding

The grant also provided funding for 3 Km of

the recruitment and survival of native

deed execution.

fencing to assist with grazing management,

vegetation. The grants are funded through the

as the plants are also a good source of livestock fodder, although supplemental

Yelta Landcare group is hosting a clean up

Australian Government’s Caring for our

feeding is required. Last year’s plants are

Australia Day site at the Merbein Common

Country initiative that “seeks to achieve

now knee high and establishing well. David

to clean up the area in preparation for

an environment that is healthier, better

was also successfully applied for a 2012-13

the construction of “The Merbein Loop

protected, well-managed, resilient, and

Victorian Landcare grant to continue this

Track”, a new walking track that will allow

provides essential ecosystem services in a

valuable work.

tourists and locals to walk or cycle from

changing climate”.

17


LANDCARE LINKS

March 2013

Eastern Mallee News

by Kim Cross

Welcome to the Eastern Mallee Landcare page. It’s great to see Landcare being revitalsied with numerous Landcare projects underway in the region. In my role as facilitator I am fortunate enough to be able to be involved with and support many group projects from onground pest and weed control to Junior Landcare initiatives.

Above: President of Sea Lake Landcare Group Brian Hannes supporting students at St.Marys Primary School to plant native trees.

Above: Junior and Senior students at St.Marys Sea Lake working together to beautify their school and learning the importance of enhancing the environment.

Victorian Landcare Grants

During March 2013 Nyah District Primary

Landcare meetings

The Eastern Mallee Region is currently

School students will be creating unique

An Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium

celebrating after securing a staggering

pieces of artwork which will celebrate and

planning session was held recently and

amount of $159,280 under the Victorian

support 25 yrs of Landcare. The students

was well attended. The aim of the meeting

Landcare Grants Program 2012/13. The

will also be working with Nyah West

was to indentify group priorities to assist in

success of the applications was due to

community members in beautifying Blow

the development of a five year group action

hard work and commitment from group

Fly Flat Bushland Reserve in Nyah West.

plan 2012-2017. Nyah West and Waitchie/

members. The Eastern Mallee Consortium

Swan Hill West Landcare groups recently

is setting a very high standard and should

Ladies Landcare Lounge

held AGMs, congratulations to all new

be commended for their efforts. Projects

Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group was

office bearers.

are expected to start early in the New Year

successful in receiving funding from Swan

and will be completed by October 2013.

Hill Rural City Council’s Small Community

Over the next few months numerous

Grants Program. The funding will assist the

Landcare groups in the Eastern Mallee will

25 years of Landcare Projects

group in delivering workshops in 2013 for

be commencing the following:

Manangatang, Kooloonong-Natya, Sea

rural women in the Swan Hill municipality,

Lake and Nyah West Landcare groups

covering topics such as: celebrating

have been successful in obtaining funds

successful local women; Mental Health;

through Landcare’s 25 year Anniversary

and supporting ladies in Landcare.

Grants program. All of these programs will

• Rabbit and weed control works during February and March 2013; • 25 year Anniversary Landcare and Junior Landcare projects will beheld in March 2013;

be supported by local community members

Nyah West Landcare

and schools in the Eastern Mallee

Group’s flora and fauna survey

Landcare groups will be holding AGMs

region. Projects undertaken will see the

During September 2012, botanist Ian Sluiter

during February 2013;

enhancement and protection of community

was contracted to conduct a flora and fauna

assets, fostering community kinship and

survey by the Nyah West Landcare Group,

meeting will be held at the end of

the celebration of 25 years of Landcare by

led by Project Manager Janeece Stanyer.

February 2013.

planting of native trees and shrubs in local

Of the properties surveyed, three were

areas.

Government Reserves and 10 were private

If you would like to be involved with any

properties. Ian has 35 years of experience

of the above projects please contact your

Junior Landcare

as a botanist and was impressed with

local Landcare group or local Landcare

Manangatang Landcare Group along with

some unique findings in the region. Ian has

Facilitator.

the Local Landcare Facilitator has provided

completed a final report which indentified

support to Manangatang P-12 School in

some rare species in the Pira bushland

I have a new office which is now located

developing their ‘Manang Monster Garden’

reserve, one being Riverina Flax-lily Dianella

at 50 Murray Valley Highway, Nyah. This

project. The project will endeavour to

(sp. aff. longifolia Riverina). A number of

is proving to be a great location and I

create an outdoor classroom by planting

Hooded Robins (Melanodryas cucullata)

have had a wonderful welcome into the

fruit trees, construction of a pizza oven

were also located in the Nyah Strathford

community.

and a sensory garden bed. Manangatang

Bushland Reserve. Ian suggested fencing

P-12 was recently successful in obtaining

important remnant sites in these locations

I have numerous Landcare resources

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

and documenting findings over the next

available, so feel free to call in for a chat or

(FRRR) funding for this project.

5-10 years.

to discuss the next Landcare project.

18

• Sea Lake and Manangatang

• Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium


South-Eastern Mallee News

by Jess Cook

Above: Florence Ferrier’s cake made for Birchip Landcare Group’s 25th Anniversary of Landcare Celebrations.

Above: Birchip Landcare Group hands out trees to Birchip P-12 School on National Tree Day.

Welcome to the South Eastern Mallee

first is Norman Goodwin’s diary entitled

Grant announcements

news. Landcare activities are starting to

“Look around and what do you see”, which

Culgoa Landcare Group and Ultima

build up again after a few quiet months,

lists sightings and observations of wildlife

Landcare Group were recently successful

with groups beginning to roll out

in the Birchip area. The second is “Birds of

in securing funding for 2013 under the

projects and hold meetings.

the South East Mallee” a brochure which

Victorian Landcare Grants. Culgoa received

I am excited to see the Junior Landcare is beginning to gain momentum in the area. A worm farm art competition for P-6 students in the South-Eastern Mallee region closes on Friday 22nd March, with winners announced on Monday 15th April. Interest in the pest plant and animal programs has been high, it is fantastic to see the communities in the South Eastern Mallee

identifies local bird species. Copies of both publications are available from Birchip Landcare group executive members, or from the Mallee Cachtment Management Authority’s (CMAs) Birchip office.

25 years of Landcare celebrations A variety of projects to celebrate 25

$17,856 and Ultima received $23,458, both groups will be conducting rabbit and pest plant control works. Lalbert, Nullawil, Berriwillock, and Birchip Landcare groups all received grants for pest plant and animal control works through the Mallee CMA and the Australian Governments Caring for our Country.

years of Landcare have recently been

becoming involved in Landcare projects.

undertaken.

Consortium news

Birchip Landcare Group was successful in

At the executive meeting on the 8th

receiving $4,600 in the first round for their

of October, representatives from each

“Engaging Community in Landcare through

Upcoming events and activities

member group met at the Birchip Hotel

the Enhancement of Birchip Wetlands”

Culgoa, Lalbert, Nullawil and Ultima

Upcoming meetings The next round of meetings will be early in

to hold the first of what will hopefully be quarterly consortium meetings. At this inaugural meeting, groups decided to start applying for larger grants at a consortium level. During the meeting, it was discussed how these larger grants could be important in providing income for a future Coordinator.

project. This project saw the group conduct ground works at Pump Hut Reserve with the installation of a picnic table and a commemorative sign and a celebration day at Pump Hut Reserve, where Cr. David Pollard officially unveiled the sign. Other groups in the area have recently started projects, including a direct seeding project which will complete the last stretch

2013 to discuss new funding opportunities.

Landcare groups all have 25 years of Landcare celebrations happening in May, which include planting days, barbeques and the opening of Ultima Primary School’s new fitness track. Rabbit ripping programs started across the South Eastern Mallee in early February, each group will be conducting programs

Detailing and displaying Birchip’s

of Nullawil’s Biolink, revegetation projects

in targeted areas and will be contacting

unique biodiversity

for the Lalbert Golf Club, the Culgoa school

landholders in the target areas soon. If

The Birchip Landcare Group has released

site and along the Culgoa-Ultima Road, and

you wish to know more contact your local

two publications as part of a Caring for our

a bushland fitness track project at Ultima

Landcare group or check out our Facebook

Country grant they received last year. The

Primary School.

page at: www.facebook.com/MalleeRLN

19


LANDCARE LINKS

March 2013

South-Western Mallee News

by Daniel Huttig

Hi everyone, just a quick note from the South Western Mallee Landcare consortium to let you know what’s been happening and what’s on the cards for the start of this new year. I trust everyone has had a good break and are ready to get stuck into some projects.

Victorian Landcare Grants 2012/13 The South Western Mallee Region is currently celebrating after securing $42,916 under the Victorian Landcare Grants Program 2012/13. Above: Reshaping of western bank of Beulah Weir Pool to control erosion.

The success of the applications is an

for future works across the region. The

Landcare meetings

outstanding achievement for the groups

projects are as follows:

Throughout the course of 2012 Landcare

of the South Western Consortium. This

• The Beulah Landcare Group will be

money will be added to the Community

looking to clean up Boxthorn and

(AGMs), and with the exception of the

Action Caring for our Country grants that

Cactus that has flourished along the

Rainbow and District Landcare Group,

the groups each received earlier in the year

Yarriambiack Creek as a result of the

these were the first AGMs that the groups

for 1080 campaigns. In addition to these

January 2011 floods;

had held since 2009. All of the meetings

funds, the Yarriambiack Shire Council has

• The Hopetoun Landcare Group will

groups held their annual general meetings

were well attended by the local community

committed a substantial amount of money

be inviting the local schools, Landcare

and were an excellent building block for

to the ripping campaigns of the Landcare

members, and the wider community down to Lake Lascelles for a tree

regenerating some interest in Landcare

groups. This is a great partnership that has formed and will hopefully continue well into

planting day. Understory flora will be

the future.

planted between existing trees to ensure that motorists are restricted to

The South Western Mallee Landcare Consortium is setting a very high standard

driving only on designated tracks; • The Rainbow and District Landcare

in regards to rabbit control programs.

Group will be working with the Yaapeet

Projects are expected to start early in

Primary School to upgrade a bush track

March for the 1080 campaign and the

that is adjacent to the school grounds;

warren ripping will be completed by

• The Woomelang Lascelles Landcare

right across the region. In addition to extensive rabbit control projects, each of the groups have projects planned for the coming year, and have earmarked grants that they would like to apply for. All of the groups will be looking to hold regular meetings over the next few years and share resources with other like-minded community groups.

October 2013. The consortium was also

Group will be revegetating a plantation

successful in the application of funds

that succumbed’ during the height of

through Regional Development Victoria,

the drought. Approximately 500 new

which will see a cadetship position filled

trees will be planted by students and

of the groups include 1080 campaigns

by a current university student, to project

staff of the Woomelang Primary School

and rabbit ripping programs throughout

manage the rabbit campaigns over the

and a sign will be erected at the site.

February and March; the 25th Anniversary

Just to recap: upcoming events for each

Grant projects; as well as general meetings

summer months. Twenty-five Year Landcare Anniversary

during March.

25 Year Landcare Anniversary Grants

Grants commenced during October/

All four of the Landcare groups in the area

November 2012 with on-ground tree

Anyone interested in becoming involved

have been successful in obtaining funds

planting occurring in early 2013, at a time

in Landcare in the South Western Mallee,

through the Landcare 25 Year Anniversary

when the weather is more conducive to

or seeking any information regarding the

Grants program. Some exciting projects

planting. If you would like to participate in

aforementioned projects, can get in touch

were put forward by the groups and it is

any of these activities, or have ideas for

with local Landcare Facilitator Daniel Huttig

anticipated that they will generate renewed

similar activities, please contact your local

on 0421 731 459 or via email at

interest in Landcare, and new ideas

Landcare group.

daniel.huttig@dpi.vic.gov.au

20


Cowangie Rail Catchment on track for Environmental Protection by Kate Nickolls

Above: Cowangie will have more to brag about with the development of an icon site at the Cowangie Rail Reserve.

The Cowangie Rail Reserve Catchment

grasslands. It is an important biolink

with the plan of erecting interpretive

is getting a makeover – thanks to a

corridor due to its location between the

signage at the site.

partnership between the Murrayville

Murray Sunset National Park and the Big

Landcare Group, Landcare Australia,

Desert Wilderness Area. The property is

What next?

VicTrack & the Mallee Catchment

historically significant, the dam was used

A pest plant and animal program will be

Management Authority (CMA).

as a water supply for the steam trains

implemented, with all rabbit warrens

during early settlement of the area and

within the region GPS recorded and

The Murrayville Landcare Group has long

locals have used the property for recreation

ripped in July, with a follow up fumigation

looked for an area to be developed into

for the past 50 years.

program to ensure effective reduction.

an icon site for the district, showcasing

Weed control will also be conducted in

the local flora and fauna for both locals

The initial stages of the project have seen

the spring to eradicate the populations of

and visitors. This vision came to fruition in

the dilapidated existing fence pulled down

boxthorn, cactus and other invasive species

2010 when VicTrack approached the Mallee

and removed by members of the Landcare

found within the site. Future activities will

CMA and the Murrayville Landcare Group

group and their families, and a new, rabbit-

include seed collection, direct seeding and

to develop a long term plan to manage and

proof fence erected by Mallee Fencing

community planting days in 2013, with a

protect the site, with nearly $150,000 in

Contractors.

focus on community and Junior Landcare

grants and in-kind contributions committed to the project.

activities such as bush barbeques,

Survey undertaken

workshops on seed collecting, flora and

An extensive flora and fauna survey

fauna identification.

Where is the site?

has been conducted by Sunraysia

The Cowangie Rail Reserve is situated on

Environmental to document findings

Further information

the Mallee Hwy, 2km west of Cowangie

and further understand the ecology and

If you require further information or would

and is a prominent area of native

importance of the catchment. Periodical

like to get involved please contact Kate

vegetation containing significant woodland

monitoring of the site will continue in the

Nickolls, Murrayville Landcare Facilitator,

species and an excellent stand of native

future, along with a proposed bird survey,

Tuesday or Thursday on 0477 550 161.

21


LANDCARE LINKS

March 2013

Regional Wrap-up Communities for Nature Grants

(OH&S) obligations. Even though Landcare

The latest Small Grants round of

groups are a volunteer organisation, they

Communities for Nature closed on the

still have a legal obligation under the

19th of December, with successful groups

OH&S Act to ensure the safety and well

expected to be announced in March 2013.

being of all participants involved in any

The next round of both Small and Large

activity or project that they may conduct,

Grants will be announced early in 2013. The

be they volunteers or paid participants

large grants can run for up to three years

(i.e. contractors). Landcare Facilitators

and would be suitable for a consortium or

will support all groups in meeting OH&S

group bid.

requirements.

In September the Mallee Catchment

Geelong Landcare Forum

Upcoming events

Management Authority (CMA) hosted a

Kevin Chaplin and Jess Cook attended the

two day visit from The Hon Ryan Smith,

State Landcare Forum held in Geelong

Minister for Environment and Climate

on October 30 and 31, 2012. The two

Change. The Minister met with three

day event was packed with a variety of

Landcare groups during his visit; Birchip

workshops and talks, and included a half

Landcare Group; Red Cliffs Community

day field trip. The forum showcased the

Landcare Group; and Yelta Landcare Group.

great work being done in the Corangamite

These groups were given a chance to chat

region by Landcare groups and their

to the Minister about their past and current

partners.

Above: Environment Minister Ryan Smith, MP Peter Crisp and Ian McNabb discuss Landcare achievements.

Minister Smith’s Visit

achievements and plans for the coming years.

FREE Geographical Information System

March 12 Eastern Mallee Consortium meet 15 Manangatang working bee Feral Eradication Rampage 15-17 Werrimul 18 Sea Lake working bee 25 Nyah West working bee May 12 Trees for Mum

Project Partners

software 25th Anniversary of Landcare Grants

The Mallee CMA and the Regional

Many groups within the Mallee have

Landcare Coordinator are currently rolling

participated in the recent funding to

out a software package to Landcare

celebrate 25 years of Landcare. Projects

groups featuring the latest high resolution

included revegetation works, community

aerial photography and Department of

days and displaying of Landcare signage.

Sustainability and Environment (DSE)

All projects have commenced, with

natural resource management databases.

many planting days to be held early in

This package can produce high resolution

2013. Contact your local group if you are

images right down to individual trees in

interested in attending a planting day or

paddocks and allows you to record and plan

celebratory event.

activities such as weed control areas, rabbit control activities and revegetation and

Group Action Plans 2013-2018

enhancement works. This will help groups

Groups that have completed Action

document and produce high quality maps,

Planning sessions will soon see the final

identify any on-ground activity undertaken

drafts of their five year Group Action Plans.

and to assist with reporting. Please

The Action Plans will assist Landcare

contact your local Landcare Facilitator or

consortium groups in indentifying and

Coordinator if you would like to view this

prioritising natural resource management

software and learn how to use it.

issues in their area. These plans will support groups when applying for funding

Group OH&S requirements

and securing sponsorship. The plans

As part of implementing funding programs

capture the goals of the Landcare groups

and the associated allocation of funds,

for the next five years. They also provide

the Mallee CMA has a legal obligation to

information about the Landcare group area

ensure any grant recipient complies with

and history of the groups.

respective Occupational Health and Safety

22

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 100% recycled Australian paper made from pre- and post-consumer waste. 


The

Mallee Farmer

Potterwalkagee Creek after the delivery of environmental water.

Mallee Regional Waterway Strategy The Mallee’s rivers, creeks, lakes and wetlands represent some of our most precious natural assets which are valued for the social, cultural, and economic opportunities they provide. By

Michelle Kelly, Mallee CMA Throughout 2013, we are inviting community members to have a say in the future management of these waterways by helping us to develop the 2013-2021 Mallee Regional Waterway Strategy.

The Mallee Waterway Strategy

The strategy will be an eight-year action plan that sets regional priorities and targets that reflect what is important to the Mallee community providing a basis for seeking future funding and setting annual works programs. Local knowledge is crucial to the development of the strategy and we

will be working with partner agencies and local communities to identify the environmental, social, cultural, and economic values of our waterways; and to assist in the setting of management actions required in priority areas.

How to provide input

We encourage any groups or organisations interested in hearing more about the strategy to contact the Mallee CMA Strategy and Engagement Officer Michelle Kelly on 03 5051 4344 or by email at michelle.kelly@dpi.vic.gov.au.

Above. Community engagement is crucial to the developement of the Mallee Waterway Strategy. Below. Local volunteers monitor waterways.

There will also be further opportunities to provide comments and feedback when the draft Mallee Waterway Strategy is released for public comment towards the end of 2013.

23 23


The

Mallee Farmer

Native perennial shrubs planted at Manangatang Enrich site.

Growth and grazing of perennial shrubs A new Enrich site was established at Manangatang in August 2011, chosen for its light brown clay soils and high boron and salt concentrations, typical of the Mallee conditions where Saltbush is planted. By

Dave Monks and Mick Brady, DPI Enrich, a nation wide project, explores the use of perennial shrubs as a feed source for sustainable grazing systems in low to medium rainfall areas.

Background and methods

Native perennial shrubs have potential for growth and grazing in areas where alternative perennial options for pasture crop growth are limited. Deep rooted perennials have been identified as the greatest potential for improving ecological stability by reducing groundwater recharge and salinity.

24

In 2008, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) funded the establishment of an Enrich shrub evaluation experiment at Walpeup Research Station, with the support of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Future Farming Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC). In 2011, the Walpeup-based research moved into its fifth and final stage which focussed on a second round of grazing to evaluate shrub performance and grazing preference. The shrub production and sheep grazing preference data was used to further refine species selection for further investigation.

A second Enrich shrub evaluation experiment was then established at Manangatang in August 2011 to evaluate the top performing shrubs from the Walpeup trial on a site with more marginal soil. This past season was dry at Manangatang with 214mm of rainfall between January and November 2012 and with high Boron and salinity at the site, shrub production was expected to be low. The edible biomass produced by each shrub species was measured on April 12 and October 18, 2012.

Results

Old Man Saltbush, Silver Saltbush and River Saltbush have grown the most during this establishment phase. From planting in August 2011 to October 2012, Old Man Saltbush had produced 130g edible biomass/plant – small shrubs indeed (Figure 1). The plants are growing well and are mostly healthy; Emu bush is the slowest growing and may have been


The

Mallee Farmer compromised through the hot and dry weather of 2012. Data from the Walpeup experiment, four years further on than this experiment, are available in past Mallee Farmer magazines (Issue 1, page 20 and Issue 2, page 14). Edible biomass (g/plant)

Future work

The site will be grazed in March 2013 by mixed aged ewes to assess grazing preference and subsequent shrub regrowth.

h

h an

us ub

This project is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country. The research was undertaken by Agricultural Victoria Services and was an initiative of Future Farm Industries CRC. The project team would like to thank the landholder for allowing the demonstration trial to be established on their property.

O

ld

M

Em

ltb Sa

ltb Sa er iv R

e le al M

us

h us

h us ltb Sa

Sa er lv Si

R

ub

y

Sa

ltb

ltb

us

us

h

h

Acknowledgments

Figure 1. The edible biomass produced by a range of perennial shrub species planted at Manangatang in August 2011. Bars are 5% LSDs for each measurement date (P<0.001).

For more information

Contact Karen Nalder at the

Diary dates March 3rd

Clean Up Australia Day Merbein Loop Trail (Merbein Common) Contact: Steve Curran P: 0409 127 562 www. cleanupaustraliaday.org.au

March 12-20th

Grant writing workshops Robinvale - 12 Nyah - 13 Manangatang - 14 Ultima - 18 Swan Hill - 19 & 20 Contact: Kim Cross P: (03) 5030 5001 E: kim.cross@dpi.vic.gov.au

March 13-14th

Managing farms in a changing climate - Conference Quality Hotel Mildura Grand Contact: Steph Haw P: (03) 5021 9100 www. msfp.org.au

March 15-17th

Millewa Feral Festival Werrimul Hotel Contact: Annette Lambert P: (03) 5028 3226 E: serenity1621@bigpond.com

March24th

Catch A Carp Day Riverside Golf Club Phone: (03) 5023 1560 www. riversidegolfclub.net.au

Mallee CMA on 03 5051 4377 or go to the website for past Fact Sheets www.malleecma.vic.gov.au For more information about using perennial species on farm go to www.futurefarmonline.com.au

Mallee Farmer be sure to get your copy

May 12th

Trees for Mum Psyche Pumps Contact: Patrick Mickan T: (03) 5051 4320 E: Patrick.Mickan@dpi.vic.gov.au

May 24-25th

Mildura Field Days Sunraysia Institute TAFE Benetook Ave, Mildura Contact P: 0487 021 122 E: info@mildurafielddays.com.au www. mildurafielddays.com.au

For more information

Contact the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) to arrange to have The Mallee Farmer posted directly to you. T: (03) 5051 4377 or email E: reception.malleecma@dpi.vic.gov.au

25


The

Mallee Farmer

A mix of stubble and new crop in July 2012.

Low risk of wind erosion can be maintained with break crops in rotation Study results are encouraging for Mallee farmers considering introducing break crops in cereal-based rotations. By

Angela Clough and Dave Monks, DPI

Background

The potential for altering the risk of soil erosion by adding break crops to cereal rotations is explored in an earlier edition of Mallee Farmer (Issue 1, August 2011). To re-cap, results from three soils at Ouyen (-35.056ºS, 142.331ºE) show that lupins, canola, hay and chemical fallow can all be included as break crops at the site, without creating a high risk of wind erosion after harvest. However, on the lighter dune and sloped soils, the stubble from lupins and fallow (i.e. two season-old stubble) barely meet the minimal ground cover required to have

26

a low risk of wind erosion over summer. Under drier conditions, the risk of wind erosion with these break crops may rise to moderate or high. The potential for wind erosion due to limited ground cover is a particular risk when ground cover from stubble is lost through incorporation at sowing and the new crop is yet to emerge. Importantly, this assessment excluded livestock.

The second year

In the following year, the field study of break crops and wind erosion was expanded at the same site to include break crops established one and two years prior to a wheat crop. The field work was conducted on the same dune, slope and swale in the same experiments as the prior work (livestock was excluded).

Key Points

• Minimising the risk of wind erosion is a priority for land management in the Mallee; • This study over two seasons at Ouyen shows that break crops can be included in ungrazed cereal rotations while ensuring a low risk of wind erosion; • The key principles needed to ensure a low risk of soil erosion are: retain stubble, understand the role of soil aggregates and be mindful of residual stubble when selecting the break crop; • Ground cover is at its lowest in the period between soil disturbance at sowing and emergence of the new crop; • Grazing reduces stubble and therefore increases the risk of wind erosion.


The

Mallee Farmer The break crops were: low and highinput lupins (50 and 100 kg seed/ha), low and high-input canola (1 and 3 kg seed/ha), chemical fallow and wheaten hay (60 kg seed/ha – two years prior only). Continuous wheat (60 kg seed/ha) was included as a benchmark practice. A summary of crop yields and seasonal conditions at the site is provided in another article by the same authors in this edition of Mallee Farmer page 22. Every plot was sampled for soil aggregates in January, April and June. The proportion of ground covered by stubble or new crop was assessed from overhead photographs taken of each plot and the proportion of ground covered in each photograph was determined by classifying 60 randomly selected pixels in each photograph as soil, stubble or plants using the software SamplePoint (Booth et al. 2006).

Required ground cover

The amount of ground cover required to reduce soil erosion risk is related to the proportion of soil present as large aggregates (diameter >0.85mm). That is, the more large aggregates, the lower the amount of ground cover required to give a low risk of soil erosion. At Ouyen, the proportion of large aggregates did not vary between the crops on each soil. The proportion of soil that needed to be covered for the risk of wind erosion to be low was estimated using a risk matrix (McIntosh et al. 2006). Estimates of required ground cover were calculated as 15-20% on the dune, 20-25% on the slope and 5-10% on the swale. These ground cover values were similar to the values measured in the prior work; 25% on the dune and slope, and 15% on the swale. Ground cover in the second year The proportion of ground covered met the minimum required to achieve a low risk of wind erosion through summer, sowing and the early stages of the next crop of wheat for all break crops. This included wheat that had a break crop in the prior year and wheat grown two years after the last break crop (Table 1). This tendency for a low risk of wind erosion at Ouyen concurs with a survey of cropped land in the Mallee that was reported last year in The Mallee Farmer (Drendel, 2012). The survey reported that 88% of cropped land had a low risk of wind erosion immediately after sowing. As expected, there was a general loss of stubble as the year progressed from January, through sowing in May until emergence in July. Stubble loss averaged 15% on the dune, 16% on the slope and 21% on the swale. Similar to the prior study, all crops met the minimum ground cover requirements. However, fallow and lupins from the prior year tended to be closer to the minimum requirement than other crops. Relatively

Above. Ground cover in July 2012.

little stubble from fallow and lupins leads to the concept that paddocks should not host consecutive break crops if the risk of soil erosion is a concern. At sowing, ground cover from the new crop was an important component of total ground cover, especially where fallow and lupins left relatively little stubble on the slope.

Minimum ground cover needed for low erosion risk (b)

Mean % ground covered

Lowest % ground covered

Jan

15%

50%

41%c

Apr (a)

20%

53%

38%c

types and provide a low risk of soil erosion, provided a few conditions are met. Firstly, stubble must be retained and not grazed. Stubble was critical to ensuring a low risk of wind erosion at times when there was no other source of ground cover. This supports the transition to minimum tillage. Secondly, the role of soil aggregates in wind erosion risk needs to be understood – the size of the soil aggregates is directly related to the risk of erosion. Thirdly, land managers need to be mindful that choosing a break crop which leaves little stubble may increase the risk of wind erosion between seasons, especially on lighter soils. This risk will be exacerbated if the next crop fails to emerge or is another break crop that leaves little ground cover. The risk of wind erosion due to sowing consecutive break crops is an issue that could be explored in the future when break crops are more prevalent in Mallee cropping systems.

Jun

20%

40%

28%c

References

Jul

20%

41%

34%c

Jan

20%

54%

39%d

Apr (a)

25%

58%

30%d

Jun (a)

20%

46%

23%d

Jul

20%

45%

30%e

Jan (a)

5%

60%

41%c

Apr (a)

10%

61%

35%c

Jun (a)

10%

48%

26%e

Table 1. The percent of ground covered by stubble and/or new crop on dune, slope and swale soils measured at four times between harvest and emergence of the next crop. Ground cover expressed as the mean of all treatments and the lowest percent of ground covered from all the treatments in each soil.

Month

Dune

Slope

Swale

Jul (a) 10% 49% 29%e (a) statistically significant difference between crop sequences. (b) Ground cover required is based on soil aggregates; value used in July is soil aggregates in June. (c) wheat 2010 / low-input lupin 2011. (d) wheat 2010 / highinput lupin 2011. (e) wheat 2010 / chemical fallow 2011.

Final words

The conclusions from this study are encouraging for Mallee farmers wishing to include break crops in their cerealbased rotations. This two year study shows that break crops can be included in cereal-based rotations on these soil

Booth DT, Cox SE, Berryman RD (2006). Point sampling digital imagery ‘SamplePoint’. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 123: 97-108. Drendel H (2012). Land management and erosion risk in the Mallee. The Mallee Farmer, 3: 10-11. McIntosh G, Leys J, Biesaga K (2006). Estimating groundcover and soil aggregation for wind erosion control on cropping land. Farmtalk Fact sheet 26. Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc., pp 2.

Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Victoria, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country. Chris Davies and Mick Brady are gratefully acknowledged for their field work and sample analyses.

27


The

Mallee Farmer

Demonstrating the laying of polymer with a one pass diect seeding machine.

Using degradable polymers to enhance direct seeding in Mallee revegetation BCG, with support from the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), has commenced a project to assess whether the use of degradable polymers with direct seeding of native plants increases seed germination and survival rates in the Mallee. By

Tim McClelland, Yield Prophet Coordinator, BCG. This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of incorporating degradable polymers into the machine planting of mixed native seed on heavy and light soils. The trial will also be sown at two different sowing times (winter and autumn) to investigate the impact that time of sowing may have on seed germination. If the demonstration proves to be effective and cost efficient, revegetation of poor yielding areas will be more feasible.

Project background

Native vegetation is important for agricultural sustainability. A property

28

protected by layers of trees, shrubs and perennial grasses will maintain the top soil, enhance biodiversity and provide a pleasant environment in which to work and live. Native plants interact with soil microbes to create free fertiliser and provide free water purification and filtration systems. They prevent and even reverse the effects of land degradation, including erosion, poor soil structure, dryland salinity and rising water tables. Native vegetation also provides food and shelter for a wide variety of bird species that feed on and naturally control exotic insect pests. Technological advances in agriculture have altered the way farmers manage their land. Increased use of precision equipment through the form of GPS technology, soil and yield mapping and wider machinery has freed up

small areas of often less productive land where bio-diverse plantings could be undertaken. The replacement of channels and dams with piped water has provided further opportunity for revegetation sites. At present, revegetation with native species involves the collection of seed, the preparation of the site to remove weeds, and the machine planting of mixed seed. At times, this can be expensive and time consuming. In some situations, survival rates for direct seeding can also be low, particularly in dry Mallee environments. This problem is usually addressed by using large volumes of seed mix in the expectation that some seeds may not germinate and establish themselves. Polyolefin films have long been used in agricultural production for crop propagation, weed suppression, soil moisture conservation and provision of additional heat units to the soil, all strategies designed to improve crop outcomes. Research in other areas of Victoria has shown that using a polymer in the machine planting of seed in


The

Mallee Farmer

Above. The one pass diect seeding machine also lays the degradable polymer. The polymer creates a mini ‘glasshouse’ maintaining moisture and increasing temperature. Below. Germination of a Mallee Eucalypt under polymer.

Results

native revegetation can significantly increase germination rates. Using polymers for revegetation is attractive for a number of reasons: the film acts as a mini greenhouse, greatly improving germination rates, even for difficult to grow species, as well as bringing forward the sowing season. It also traps moisture in the soil, aiding the growth of emerging seedlings, which is of great use at low rainfall sites or during dry years. Furthermore, the film may act as a physical barrier to stop seed theft by ants and prevent attack by red legged earth mites on the germinating seed.

Method

Two replicated trial sites were established north of Birchip in July 2012 to trial the effectiveness of direct seeding with degradable polymers. The trials were sown in both sand and clay soils to test the difference between soil types and the application of the polymer. The replicated trial will allow statistics to be gathered on each of the treatments and the most effective planting method determined for each of the trial sites. Germination efficiency will be measured by taking 10 one metre row assessments in each plot. Assessments will occur at germination and at three month intervals. Replicated trials will also be sown in March 2013 to investigate the impact of different sowing times on seed germination.

Initial results from the project have shown that with winter sowing, the presence of polymer has increased the number of germinated seeds compared with that of uncovered seeds on a sandy site. No seeds germinated on the heavier soil. It is still too early to make any solid conclusions about the long term survival of germinated seeds. The favourable conditions created for seed germination have favoured weed growth, despite the application of a knock-down herbicide. It is evident from these early trials that an effective herbicide program with residual activity will be necessary to suppress weeds to aid in the long term survival of seedlings.

Implications

The Mallee CMA undertakes revegetation activities, providing an opportunity for Mallee landholders to revegetate sites on their properties by planting indigenous species. Opportunities to promote the ease and cost effectiveness of incorporating small scale bio-diverse plantings to farmers could be an effective tool in increasing the scale and quality of native vegetation across the Mallee landscape. This project will value-add to the current program by trialling new technologies to improve current revegetation practices, thereby increasing the capacity of individuals and organisations to expand the extent of native habitat within the region.

Where to next?

Monitoring will continue to be undertaken at three month intervals on the winter sown sites up until June 2013. Autumn sown trials will be sown in March 2013 and monitored in June 2013. A report and technical bulletin will then be produced at the completion of the project in June 2013.

Four additional trial sites were established in December 2012 across the region (Neds Corner Station, Patchewollock, Wemen and Birchip) to further trial the polymer under conditions specific to the Mallee. Funding for these additional sites was provided by the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund and is part of a two year project that will be delivered by BCG in partnership with the Mallee CMA. For further information on this project please refer to the fact sheet on the Mallee CMA website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Acknowledgments

This project is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country. It is being undertaken by BCG.

Key Points

• Traditional revegetation methods of direct seeding and hand planting seedlings can be expensive and impractical; • Research in other areas of Victoria has shown that using a degradable polymer with the machine planting of seeds can significantly increase germination rates; • Initial results from the project suggest that, with winter sowing, the presence of polymer has increased the number of germinated seeds compared with uncovered seeds on a sandy site.

For more information

Tim McClelland, Yield Prophet Coordinator, BCG. T: (03) 54 922 787 W: www.bcg.org.au

29


The

Mallee Farmer

Dr. Roger Armstrong, Senior Scientist, DPI Horsham examines wheat in the soil bunker

Soil-crop interactions and nutrient dynamics under elevated CO2 The Australian Grain Free Air CO2 Enrichment (AGFACE) program was established in 2007 to investigate how field grown crops would respond to future elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. However, as knowledge about how plant growth was effected by elevated CO2 came to light, it became evident that little was known about soil-crop interactions and nutrient dynamics under elevated CO2. To fill this knowledge gap, SoilFACE, a sub-project of the AGFACE program, was established in the Wimmera four years ago. By

Justine Severin, BCG.

Background

By 2050, CO2 levels are expected to rise by at least 50 % and this will have both positive and negative effects on grain production. Increases in atmospheric CO2 have been shown to enhance photosynthetic gain and net primary productivity (growth), and to also increase water use efficiency. However, it is uncertain whether this extends to grain crops in semi-arid agricultural systems such as ours, which are often nitrogen (N) and (almost always) water limited. SoilFACE researchers are investigating the effect elevated CO2 levels have on

30

the interaction between the crop growth and the soil properties. Specifically, SoilFACE examines a pulse (field pea) -wheat rotation grown under elevated CO2 in three contrasting soil types – Mallee sands, Wimmera cracking clays and heavy clay from high rainfall zone near Hamilton in the Western District. The project is looking to identify any direct effects CO2 has on the crop rhizosphere, any agronomic carry-over effects on soil nitrogen from the pulse crop to wheat and the potential longterm effects of soil nitrogen depletion, phosphorous and carbon.

Method

The SoilFACE research facility near Horsham consists of eight four metre ‘bunkers’ which each house up to 50 large intact soil cores (encased in PVC)

that were extracted from Walpeup in the Mallee, Horsham in the Wimmera and Hamilton in the Western District. Wheat (Yitpi) or a pulse (field pea) is planted in each core on an annual rotation basis. The SoilFACE cores are not irrigated and only phosphorus fertiliser is added. Each soil core is 100cm deep, 30cm in diameter and weigh between 140 and 160 kilograms (depending on soil type); the bunkers have been designed so the top of each core is at ground level. Four of the eight bunkers are fed carbon dioxide at 550ppm; the predicted level of atmospheric CO2 in 2050. The crops in the other four bunkers are grown under the current CO2 concentration (390ppm). Plant sampling is undertaken at flowering and grain maturity. Soil water and nitrogen are measured at the


The

Mallee Farmer beginning and end of the season and non-destructive measurements taken between these dates allow scientists to quantify growth and N fixation by the legume. Measurements look at the growth and grain yield of the crops, changes in soil water and mineral nitrogen status and nitrogen fixation by the peas.

Results and interpretation

Wheat and pea yields grown under raised CO2 conditions at Horsham have consistently yielded, on average, 25% higher than their counterparts grown in ambient CO2 conditions. Early SoilFACE results suggest that along with increasing crop growth, elevated CO2 stimulates grain yields and nitrogen content. So in effect, the legumes will supply a greater quantity of nitrogen to the following cereal crops. However, if plants grown in elevated CO2 are bigger and produce more biomass, their nutrient and water need will also be greater, and quite possibly, beyond what the preceding pea crop can supply. SoilFACE project leader Dr Roger Armstrong says the total amount of nitrogen fixed by pulses is greater under elevated CO2 because the crop produces more dry matter. “This is a consequence of the CO2 ‘fertilisation effect’ rather than through achieving a greater rate of N fixation per se,” he said. “CO2 is essential for photosynthesis but it also increases water-use efficiency in plants. So, while increases in CO2 can positively effect on plant growth and yields, when temperatures increase, rainfall efficiency decreases as rates of transpiration also increase in order for the crop to maintain internal temperatures. If predictions of a hotter and dryer future climate are correct, the benefits from elevated CO2 may be offset by the crops increased nutrient demand.” The research suggests fertiliser demand will increase in the future, with heavier crops requiring between 25 and 60% more nitrogen. Additionally, the phosphorus (P) requirement of selected crop and pasture species is likely to increase under elevated CO2, which again, will have consequences for farmers endeavouring to meet their crops nutritional needs.

Above. Soil cores in one of eight bunkers.

More encouraging are recent findings which have revealed that the ability for plants to access ‘non-available’ pools of soil P is enhanced under elevated CO2. “It’s quite possible increased root growth will go some way towards compensating for an increased P requirement,” Dr Armstrong said.

Where to from here? Maintaining productivity in the future will require a good understanding about how elevated CO2 will affect below ground processes so that appropriate management adaptations can be made (to agronomic practices as well as breeding better adapted varieties). Knowledge of nitrogen mineralisation rates, as well as the amount of N and carbon that is exudated from roots in the plant rhizosphere, will help deliver better understandings about the capacity of the soil to supply nitrogen to the crop and the amount of carbon that the crop can sequester in the soil. The research suggests that in the future, crop yields may increase but so too will their water and nutritional needs. However, these results are being achieved under current temperatures.

“Whether future yields increase will depend largely on rainfall and temperature changes, and if farmers can, or are willing to, supply their crops increased nutritional demands,” Dr Armstrong said. “What the research so far tells us is that in regions where biomass is predicted to increase, more nitrogen fertiliser may be required to take advantage of increased yield potential. Legumes in rotation might be able to supply at least some of this.” The AGFACE program is a collaborative venture between the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the University of Melbourne, with crucial additional funding from the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Australian Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

For more information

Contact Justine Severin, BCG T: 03 5492 2787 or visit the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre website at: www.piccc.org.au/AGFACE

31


The

Mallee Farmer

Farming systems:

the greatest wealth is in soil health

Over the life of the trial, the sustainability of each system has been evaluated by assessing a range of indicators including soil chemical, biological and disease analyses. These assessments were conducted at the beginning of the trial in 2000, repeated in 2005 and again in 2012. At the time of the 2005 assessment, minimal differences between the four systems were measured. The limited difference between systems could most probably be attributed to the well below average rainfall received between 200005. Soil microbes, weeds and soil-borne diseases, like any organism or crop, flourish under moist conditions. The poor growing conditions for these organisms are likely to have prevented their establishment or buildup in any one system.

32

Method

When the trial was established, it consisted of 32 plots, 1-1.4ha in size, with each of the systems replicated five times. An additional 12 ‘Standard’ (control) plots were included in the plot design to determine whether there were any spatial variation in yield across the site. The standard plots have a set rotation of fallow, wheat, field peas and canola, with each phase of the rotation represented each year and plots replicated three times. Soil samples (0-10cm) were collected and analysed from between the crop rows prior to sowing in 2012. This method was consistent with sampling procedure conducted in 2000 and 2005. The soil indicators used for comparison are: • Soil nutrition • Organic Carbon • Phosphorus (Colwell) • Nitrogen • Soil microbial activity • organisms which transfer nutrients into plant available form • Nitrate oxidising bacteria • Ammonia oxidising bacteria • Phosphorus solubilising bacteria • Organisms that decompose crop residues • Cellulolytic bacteria • Cellulolytic fungi • Organisms which add nutrients to the soil • Free living or non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria • Soil diseases (Predicta B) • Cereal Cyst Nematode (CCN) (Heterodera avenae) • Take-all (Gaeumannomyces gramininis) • Root Lesion Nematode (Pratylenchus) (Pratylenchus neglectus, teres and thornei) • Rhizoctonia (Rhizoctonia solani) • Crown Rot (Fusarium)

Soil nutrition sustainability Of the soil nutrition soil health indicators, the organic carbon percentage (OC%) yielded the only significant result. The Fuel Burner system had significantly lower OC% than the Hungry Sheep, No-Till and Reduced-Till systems. This is not surprising, given the regular use of cultivation, which speeds up the breakdown of the organic material. Though the Hungry Sheep and ReducedTill systems still utilise some targeted cultivation, it appears that these levels are sufficiently infrequent to allow a build-up of organic carbon. The OC% analysis conducted in 2005 expressed a very small difference between systems (Table 1). It is also apparent that the increased rainfall over the 2005 to 2012 period allowed the Hungry Sheep, No-Till and Reduced-Till systems to build up OC%, where the Table 1. Mean soil nutrition soil health indicators for the four farming systems and standards at the farming systems trial sampled in 2012. Nitrogen (mg/kg)

The Farming System trial examines four farming systems common to the southern Mallee: • Fuel Burner: mainly cereals; regular use of tilled fallow commenced prior to harvest; low intensity livestock, mainly prime lambs; full disturbance tillage at sowing. • Hungry Sheep: intensive cropping (mainly cereals) and intensive grazing; winter lambing, with stocking rate decided in May and feeding to fill the feed gap; sheep grazing over summer to take advantage of stubbles and control weeds; early sown cereal/ pasture forage for feed; generally full disturbance tillage at sowing. • No-Till: minimum soil disturbance seeding, with knife points and press wheels on 30.5cm spacing; no livestock; initial high-use break crops; now many cereals and some chemical fallow (commenced in late winter). • Reduced Till: flexible approach; can be tillage/full disturbance sowing but has mainly used chemical weed control and same seeding system as no-till; mix of cereals, canola and lower value break crops and in earlier years some livestock over summer.

The sampling for soil health has consistently been conducted prior to sowing for each of the 2000, 2005 and 2012 assessments. This does not allow for fluctuations within season to be understood and may favour one or more of the systems in that they may have better soil health than the other systems at that time of the year. Unfortunately, the cost associated with conducting this analysis is very high and prohibits this level of assessment.

Phosphorus (mg/kg)

Tim McClelland, BCG.

At the time of the 2005 assessment, there were no significant differences between the four systems in their longterm sustainability indicators. With only very small differences between systems at the 2005 assessment, it may be assumed that any differences in the 2012 assessment have occurred between 2005 and 2012.

Fuel burner

1.03a

36.4

12.9

Hungry Sheep

1.15b

25.6

11.7

No-Till

42.5

9.4

Reduced Till

1.17b

41.3

14.4

Standard

1.09ab

42.7

11.7

Sig. diff. LSD(P=0.15) CV%

P=0.018 0.09 9.01

NS (P=0.159)

NS (P=0.620)

Organic Carbon (%)

By

In the period between 2005 and 2012, rainfall was substantially higher. This gave these organisms a chance to express themselves, providing an opportunity to truly compare the systems for their longterm sustainability.

Results and interpretation

Treatment

BCG’s Farming Systems trial at Jil Jil is the longest running of its kind in Australia. It was established in 1999 to compare the profitability and sustainability of four farming systems, focusing specifically at changes and/or differences in soil health.


The

Mallee Farmer Table 2. Mean soil microbial activity soil health indicators for the four farming systems and standards at the farming systems trial, sampled in 2012. Organisms which transfer nutrients into plant-available form

Organisms that decompose crop residues

Organisms which add nutrients to the soil

Treatment

Nitrate Oxidizing bacteria (million/g Soil)

Ammonia Oxidizing bacteria (No/g Soil)

Phosphorus Solubilizing bacteria (thousand/g Soil)

Cellulolytic bacteria (thousand/g Soil)

Cellulolytic fungi (thousand/g Soil)

Free living or non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria (thousand/g Soil)

Fuel Burner

1.4

3,659

166ab

166

85ab

16cd

Hungry Sheep

0.7

2,829

96b

96

26b

45b

No-Till

0.8

7,212

224a

224

83ab

9d

Reduced-Till

1.3

3,656

143ab

142

125a

86a

Standard

0.8

1,868

213a

213

151a

35bc

Sig. diff. LSD (P=0.05) CV%

NS (P=0.177) NS (P=0.653)

P=0.032 87 56.7%

P=0.025 NS (P=0.260) 77 88.8%

regular cultivation has meant that the Fuel Burner systems has maintained, rather than increased it. It is evident that the different systems have produced some significant results in soil microbial activity (Table 2). While the CV values in Table 1 are very high, it should be noted that when conducting soil analyses, it is normal for the CV percentages to be higher than what would normally be acceptable for other types of analyses. This is particularly relevant when the analysis involves the assessment of thousands or millions of organisms in one gram of soil. Very small changes in the dilutions used in the lab analysis can have significant effects on the resulting number of organisms measured. The Hungry Sheep system has a significantly lower number of phosphorus solubilising bacteria (PSB) than the other three systems. The role of these bacteria in the soil is to solubilise bound phosphorus in the soil to plant-available forms (i.e. to convert phosphorus in the soil in an unavailable form to a plant available form). This result is somewhat consistent with the results in Table 1. While not significant, the Hungry Sheep system had smaller amounts of phosphorous in the soil than the other systems. The major difference between the Hungry Sheep system and the other systems is the intensity of grazing. It is evident that there is an interaction between grazing and the survival and reproduction of PSB. The Hungry Sheep system may remove more P from the soil than the other systems, particularly as the pastures in the Hungry Sheep system have not been sown with P fertiliser. The grazing used in the Hungry Sheep system as part of this trial is very intensive and the pastures are very much depleted by the end of the season. It appears as if the heavy grazing is preventing the pasture production from increasing the size of the organic P pool and hindering the development of the PSB. This is supported by the fact that the

P=0.012 22 87.6%

No-Till system and the standard plots, with no grazing, have the highest and second highest number of PSB in the soil respectively. Assuming the systems produce the same amount of grain, it is apparent that farming systems which use heavy grazing will need to apply more P fertiliser than other non-livestock systems in order to maintain P fertility in the soil. Standard and Reduced-Till systems had a significantly higher number of cellulolytic fungi (CF) than the Hungry Sheep system (Table 2). The role of CF in soils is to decompose cellulose in crop residues. Again it appears as if the heavy grazing in the Hungry Sheep system is having an effect on the number of CF in the soil. One hypothesis is that the livestock remove a large portion of the stubble in those plots, potentially preventing the CF from having an opportunity to consume the material. It is apparent that the Reduced Till and Standard plots, which have little or no grazing plus some stubble incorporation, may allow the CF to have greater access to the stubble material and enhance their survival in the soil. A significantly higher number of free living or non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria (N-fixing bacteria) were found in the Reduced-Till system compared with the remaining systems (Table 2). In addition, the Hungry Sheep and Standard systems have a significantly higher number of N-fixing bacteria than the No-Till system. The reasons for these results are unclear; however, the lowest number of N fixing bacteria in the No-Till system is consistent with the lowest nitrogen levels (not significant) recorded in the soil nutrition results (Table 1). Only one soil disease health indicator yielded a significant difference between the systems. The No-Till system had a significantly higher amount of crown rot DNA in the soil compared with the other systems. This system had an average risk level of medium compared with the other systems, which were all classified low risk for crown rot. The stubble retention employed in the No-Till system enables

the fungus to survive. Other systems which remove or incorporate the stubble are less likely to experience yield loss associated with crown rot. The Root Diseases Risk Management Resources Manual (McKay et al, 2008) states that low-risk systems paddocks are susceptible to 0-5% yield loss as compared with the medium risk category which is susceptible to 5-30% yield loss. It is apparent from these results that growers employing a NoTill system are more likely to experience yield loss from crown rot than those using other systems. A number of management factors can be employed to reduce the amount of crown rot inoculum and reduce yield loss. Growers who suspect that they are affected by crown rot should consult with their agronomist or publications such as The Root Diseases Risk Management Resources Manual (McKay et al, 2008) to address this issue.

Commercial practice

Based on the analysis conducted on the farming system trial since 2000, no one system appears to be more profitable than any other. It has highlighted that it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter which system you employ, provided you manage that system well. The analysis conducted as part of this paper has revealed some changes in the soil health properties between each of the farming systems between 2000 and 2012. While none of these properties are having an effect on short term profitability, if they are not managed in the long term then the sustainability of the system may be reduced. Results from this trial show that systems which employ heavy grazing reduce the number of PSB from the soil when compared with other systems. Thus, systems with heavy grazing will need to apply more P fertiliser compared to other systems to ensure that long term soil P fertility is maintained. This trial has also shown that No-Till systems are not conducive to the survival and reproduction of N fixing bacteria in the soil. This may have the effect of reducing N mineralisation throughout the year. While it is likely that N fixing bacteria only contribute a small amount of N, proponents of this system may need to put more N in the system through other means such as fertiliser or more leguminous crops in the rotation.

Acknowledgments

This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Victorian Investment Framework.

For more information

Contact Tim McClelland, BCG T: 03 5492 2787 W: www.bcg.org.au

33


The

Mallee Farmer

Effective rabbit control requires an ongoing collabrative effort.

Rabbits are manageable The rabbit is a serious pest (as introduced pest animals go) and there is nothing that quite tops it, in terms of impact on Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s agricultural productivity and natural environment. By

Sharyn Williams, DPI, Bendigo.

Research shows that even in extremely low numbers, rabbits can have a significant impact on vulnerable vegetation and environments. The semi arid woodlands (buloke & cypress pine vegetation communities) of the Mallee support many types of plants and animals, and research shows there needs to be less than one rabbit warren entrance per hectare to allow the regeneration of this sensitive environment to occur. At times the rabbit problem can seem unmanageable but it is important to bear in mind that, where communities have made a concerted effort, they have achieved the upper-hand.

Rabbit population dynamics

Rabbit death as a result of biological factors and weather conditions is highest during the hot and dry seasons in the Mallee, though numbers fluctuate throughout the year and over a period of years.

34

Like most species, rabbits breed best when food and water are plentiful. In the Mallee this is usually from late autumn through spring. However, one of the reasons rabbits present such a challenge to our environment is that they have the ability to breed at any time when conditions are suitable.

What does Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long term rabbit monitoring tell us?

When it comes to rabbit management people need to draw on solid evidence and field-based research to make informed management decisions. To that end, since the 1990s, Department of Primary Industires (DPI) undertakes rabbit monitoring at 17 sites across our State in spring and autumn including at two locations in the Mallee. Recent monitoring in the central Mallee (data collected between autumn 2010 and spring 2012) shows the clear variation in rabbit numbers relating both to weather conditions and rabbit control programs undertaken (Figure 1). The significant jump in rabbit numbers in autumn 2012, is a direct result of the higher than average rainfall in the region during late 2011.

Monitoring does demonstrate declines in rabbit numbers in both spring 2010 and spring 2012 that were the direct result of the community warren ripping programs that took place in late winter/early spring of those years. The ripping was carefully timed to occur just before peak spring breeding season. A further point to emerge from the long term monitoring sites is that well planned and executed warren ripping programs can be undertaken at relatively low cost/ effort and have a positive impact for up to 12 years after the work is done. The key to success is a consistent ongoing approach to control: while late winter/early spring ripping reduces populations, the rabbit will readily bounce back if follow-up work is not undertaken throughout the remainder of the year.

Effective rabbit control requires everybody to cooperate As rabbit populations can withstand high death rates from natural causes and rebound quickly, effective rabbit control requires a range of approaches to be used by all landholders collectively at the same time across as large an area as possible. As rabbits donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand property boundaries, the most effective results are achieved if action is undertaken on adjoining properties in a coordinated fashion. While every one has the responsibility to control rabbits, DPI is sometimes required to use its enforcement powers in its compliance


The

Mallee Farmer Good news for the Mallee

Through the work of many committed people in the community and beyond rabbits can be successfully managed. DPI’s ongoing monitoring provides powerful evidence that successfully addressing the rabbit problem requires ongoing vigilance and the collective effort of farmers, the community and various agencies. Without this ongoing collaborative effort, when climatic conditions are again ideal for breeding rabbit numbers will rapidly rise. If the community loses focus at any point it will quickly undo the good work already completed and make it more difficult to bring rabbit numbers back to a manageable level, as no new “panaceas” for rabbit control are on the horizon. The shared aim must be to reduce and maintain rabbit populations to levels at which damage is limited and allows primary producers to operate their businesses without significant economic losses and which permits our natural environment to continue to regenerate. Figure 1. Change in rabbit populations – central Mallee region 2010-2012.

target areas to support the investment made by other landholders in the area. Fortunately, given the level of industry and community support for rabbit control, these powers rarely need to be exercised to their full extent.

An integrated approach to rabbit control

Genuine rabbit control is only achieved through an integrated approach to the control actions being undertaken.

registered fumigant according to label directions can serve as an effective measure. Follow-up action after the initial control works include a carefully managed cycle of fumigation followed by further ripping of warrens and, if necessary, further fumigation.

The Mallee community have proved that a collaborative approach in programs with everybody pulling their weight, and under-pinned by sound science, works. It’s now time to stay the course.

For more information

Contact Department of Primary Industries T: 136 186 W: www.dpi.vic.gov.au

Baiting is useful but it only provides a temporary reduction in rabbit populations that allow the other techniques to work more effectively. As the warren is the key to rabbits’ ability to breed and sustain their high numbers, best-practice rabbit control programs are based on warren destruction using heavy machinery and are supported by other control measures such as fumigation. Scientific evidence shows that the most effective way to destroy a warren is through mechanical ripping with heavy machinery, though this approach is not appropriate in areas with sensitive or threatened native vegetation, cultural heritage values or where the area is part of or adjacent to a waterway. Where ripping cannot be undertaken, fumigating rabbit warrens with a

Above. Warren ripping undertaken in the Mallee.

35


The

Mallee Farmer

Demonstrating rolling out a three strand temporary electric fence with the Rappa at the 2012 BCG field day.

Managing grazing in large paddocks T

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) and BCG have been focusing on improving grazing management in large Mallee paddocks. By

Michael Moodie, MSF and Daniel Schuppan, Landmark Funded by Grain and Graze II, the aim of the project is to see livestock increasing feed utilisation in large paddocks while keeping cover on erosion prone soils. If you are looking to improve grazing and increase livestock production, there are four factors that need be considered: water; feed quality; feed quantity; and grazing strategy.

Water

Location of the water point in a paddock is critical for good feed utilisation. Water points that are located in the centre of the paddock are ideal but if this is not practical, then half way along a fence line will allow for the natural

36

Table 1. Suggested water flow rates into drinking troughs required for different livestock mob sizes.

Mob Size (DSE)

Suggested Flow Rate (Litres/Second)

grazing arc of stock. Water should be stored in tanks and not in the trough to ensure that plenty of cool, clean water is available. If stock learn that there is always water available and that they can get a drink without waiting, this will change their grazing behaviour. They will come in for a drink in smaller mobs and reduce the amount of camping they do around the trough. A trough size of 2.4-3.6m is adequate with good flow rates. Depending on pressure, a pipe diameter into a trough should be 40-50mm (including the float valve) and the guidelines for the flow rate needed for different mob sizes are provided in Table 1.

the higher the energy content of the feed. Growing animals need feed with a digestibility of greater than 75% to meet their energy requirements. Digestibility also influences the time feed is in the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rumen. Therefore feed intake and production is greater on high quality, high digestible pastures. FEEDTESTS can be used to determine the quality of pastures, feed crops and hay.

Feed quality

Feed Quantity

Highly digestible feed is essential and digestibility is highest in young, green plants and lowest in older dry pastures or stubbles. Digestibility is related to energy, where the higher the digestibility,

1000-2000

1-1.5

2000-3000

1.5-2

3000-5000

2-3

Greater than 5000

3

When the height of the feed is low, feed intake is affected as the animal needs to spend more time harvesting the feed. Generally, they spend 11-13 hours a day grazing. Conversely, when pasture


The

Mallee Farmer

Pulling down a three strand temporary electric fence with the Rappa at the 2012 BCG field day.

availability is too high, feed is under utilised. Animals will reach maximum gut fill quickly, therefore they will begin to selectively graze. Feed quality will also decline quickly.

can be set aside for hay or grain. The graze period, rest period, stocking pressure and rotation length will depend on mob size, paddock size and pasture growth rate.

The feed availability (or food on offer) required for high animal production is: â&#x20AC;˘ Tall pasture (e.g. cereal): 400-1000 kilograms of dry matter per hectare; and â&#x20AC;˘ Short dense pasture: 800 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1500 kilograms of dry matter per hectare.

Demonstrating the Rappa electric fence system

Grazing management

To maximise feed utilisation, stocking pressure should be matched to crop growth and pasture/crops should be rotationally grazed. For example, if a pasture is growing at 10 kg dry matter/ ha per day, the stocking rate should be 10 dse/ha. Rotational grazing provides plants with a rest after grazing, allowing them to recover faster. Large paddocks can be fenced into smaller paddocks using electric fencing, thereby increasing stocking pressure, reducing selective grazing, trampling, tracking and camping and providing for more even grazing. Furthermore, rotational grazing smaller paddocks allow feed surpluses to be identified and where crops such as cereals are being grazed, excess feed

The Rappa fencing system is being displayed in the Mallee as a practical and affordable way of improving the management of grazing in large paddocks. Mounted on an ATV, the Rappa has the ability to simultaneously roll out up to four strands of temporary electric fence, 600 meters long, that can be pegged within an hour. Once finished, the fence can be wound up using the Rappa. Temporary electric fencing can be used to divide paddocks into smaller grazing parcels or fence off particular soil types, such as in the focus paddock at Mildura where the Rappa was demonstrated in 2012 (Figure 1). In this paddock, sheep were confined to the loam soils where the feed oats had emerged early and excluded from the heavier soils which had low feed and poor groundcover. Hay was also cut from a portion of the paddock that remained un-grazed. Farmers in the South Australian Mallee

Figure 1. Rappa fencing demonstration paddock: The fence (black line) was erected to concentrate grazing where feed availability was high (blue and green) and exclude stock from where groundcover was low (red and yellow).

have also been using the Rappa to graze on poor production soil types of their cropping paddocks during the growing season.

How do you graze your large paddocks?

MSF and BCG are keen to hear from Mallee farmers about how they manage grazing in large paddocks to get the best feed utilisation while preventing issues such as erosion. If you think your grazing methods are novel, please contact Michael Moodie at Michael@msfp.org.au or phone 0448612892.


The Last Word Plants grow up to 1.5m tall and 3m wide. Its spines are 4.5cm long and white. Flowers are pink-purple and 5cm wide. Fruit is oval, up to 4.5cm long and yellow when ripe. There are a number of recorded infestation sites in the Mallee which are being treated, but the plant is hardy and resistant to many herbicides.

Carbon Farming in the Mallee

The ongoing importance of the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) should not be underestimated. As the initiative progresses, more farmers and land managers will be able to earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions on their land. These credits can then be sold to people and businesses wishing to off-set their emissions. Some of Australia’s first environmental planting projects have recently achieved registration under Carbon Farming Initiative, including a Victorian farm project near Ararat. The project is based on the direct seeding of marginal land on an 800 hectare property, where local native species such as Red Gum and Black Wattle have been planted. These plants are calculated to be capturing and storing approximately 4.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per hectare each year. It is an example of how CFIrelated activities can achieve multiple benefits such as improving the land through erosion and salinity control measures, enhancing biodiversity, and generating carbon credits, which can provide extra income for farmers.

Above: Hudson pear (Cylindropuntia rosea). Below: A small plant can be carefully dug out.

In this, the first of a series of the Mallee’s Most Wanted, we take at a look at a hombre who is potentially the worst of the cactus threats: the dreaded Hudson pear. First introduced to Australia as a garden ornament, it proved so user unfriendly it was quickly dumped by gardeners or managed to escape into the wild. Years later, the plant was used to deter opal claim-jumpers at Lightning Ridge. These small

parameter plantings around mines soon became many hundreds of hectares of impenetrable cactus. Like most cacti, this plant will readily grow from any small segment that contacts the ground. Even when the segments are dead, the spines remain a threat to pets, stock and wildlife. Hudson pear has no seed but its segments are readily spread by animals, vehicles, footwear and even birds that may have come into contact with its spines. This plant poses a real threat to animals and humans and it has the potential to severely impact on the environment, productive land and farm viability.

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

Acknowledgments

The Mallee Farmer would not be possible if it wasn’t for the ongoing support it receives from the many individuals and organisations who continue to supply the articles. Their commitment to providing up-to-date, relevant and interesting information to the Mallee farming community is vital and allows residents to access information, explore new concepts and generally keep abreast of activities taking place in the region.

Mallee’s Most Wanted

The “Mallee’s Most Wanted” is a new feature of the Mallee Farmer’s “Last Word”, which will focus on some of the most damaging pest species in the region.

Should anyone find this desperado lurking in the bushes or on roadsides, it’s best to keep your distance, report it as soon as possible to your local Landcare Facilitator who will then ensure that the appropriate authorities are notified.

The Mallee Farmer is produced by the Mallee CMA, in partnership with organisations across the region such as the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI), BCG, Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) and specialist consultants. Funding for the publication is provided by the Australian Government’s Regional Landcare Facilitator Initiative. If you would like to submit any ideas, comments or suggestions for future editions please contact: Glen Sutherland Regional Landcare Facilitator Mallee CMA T: 0417396973 E: glen.sutherland@dpi.vic.gov.au


Mallee Farmer March 2013 Edition 4