Mallee Farmer FOR FA RM E R S I N T H E M A L L E E REGION
Betting on pulse crops in the northern Mallee
ISSUE 06 â€˘ MARCH 2014
Rappa boosts grazing efficiency
Southern species in the spotlight
Effective Summer weed control to improve soil - p2 National variety trials yield results - p4
Contents Seasonal conditions
Effective summer weed control to prevent soil erosion and increase soil health
National variety trials yield results
Connecting Mallee Parks
Stock help no-till Mallee farmers control weeds and erosion
Betting on pulse crops in the northern Victorian Mallee
Grants to Landcare groups
Increasing profitability with alternative break crops and herbicide control options
Rappa boosts grazing efficiency 26 in large, long crop paddocks Opportunity to lead change one 28 conversation at a time Inoculation versus top dressing 30 pulses with Nitrogen
ISSN: 1839 - 2229
Cover Image Summer weed spray application miss, showing the impact in a wheat crop. Story page: 2
It’s really pleasing to note that the region continues to perform strongly in its ability to attract investment for agricultural research projects. farms by undertaking demonstrations of Controlled Traffic Farming and Subsoil Manuring; and • Alternate fodder crops for dryland grazing systems – winning the war on erosion, which is a Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) project that will demonstrate the value of incorporating native shrubs into a dryland farming system to increase productivity and reduce the risk of soil erosion.
National Landcare survey
Southern species in the spotlight
Investing in agriculture in the Mallee
The Federal Government’s latest round of Landcare Innovation Grants demonstrate this perfectly – the $21.2 million program funded 31 projects across Australia, including four projects in Victoria, three of which are in the Victorian Mallee. The projects in the Mallee include: • Enhancing the farm resource base and profitability through better risk management, which will be delivered by Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) and be targeted at improving land stewardship on broad-acre farms throughout the sheep-wheat zone in southern Australia; • Innovations in cropping systems which is a Department of Environment and Primary Industries project that aims to address declining soil condition and severe subsoil constraints on Victorian cropping
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 funding announcement – combined with the strong support our region gets from the Victorian Government in areas such as agricultural research and development and Victorian Landcare – is good news for the Victorian Mallee because it means funding is being directed into projects that are directly relevant to farmers right across the dryland region. I’d also like to make a special mention of the Landcare Links section in this edition of the Mallee Farmer and thank all the local Landcare groups for their contributions to this update – it is amazing how much work you do across the region! I hope you enjoy this edition of the Mallee Farmer. Sharyon Peart Chairperson Mallee CMA Board.
advice on the applicability or otherwise of the information in this document. Neither the Mallee CMA nor any of the agencies/organisations/people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer endorse the information contained in this document, nor do they endorse any products identified by trade name. The information in this document is made available on the understanding that neither the Mallee CMA, nor any the people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer will have any liability arising from any reliance upon any information in this document.
Nitrogen trial wheat. Inset: Rob Sonogan.
Seasonal conditions 2013 is now behind us, but what a year it was! With no summer rainfall and subsoils as dry as the proverbial ‘wooden rocking horse’, we were not too confident. By
Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision agronomist and GRDC Southern Panel Member. The breaking rains arrived on the 1st of June, for most. This one rain event was actually the most significant for 2013 and greatly assisted eventual yields. Long range weather forecasts to me were again disappointing, leading to crop management frustrations. The big lesson is to understand what is actually in your soil and to manage for an average future, but to be prepared to respond rapidly to what nature throws our way. And in this I am confident that Mallee farmers are the best!
Implications of the 2013 Dry Summer
The messages about the dry summer of 2013 were generally well expressed by advisers. Chemical carry-over was a real threat and many adjusted their program by either changing crop type and/or variety. This resulted in greatly minimising potential crop damage although no doubt at the time caused extra management stresses.
It was also known that soil nitrogen (N) would be at record lows as no soil mineralisation nor crop residue breakdown had occurred since the previous harvest. At sowing, N was critical at higher rates than normal with follow-up needed as the developing season dictated. It was realised that self-sown cereals would be an issue, but overall we were generally caught out by just how much they would impact. A number of different circumstances were present in 2013 compared historically to other years with similarly dry preceding summers: • More cereal on cereal; • Less livestock in the system; • Almost zero cultivation, which had it been present would have germinated more of the cereal seed with it being buried rather than on the surface as it was in 2013. A lesson that I am sure will now be well remembered!
Heading into 2014 - Crown rot
Many cereals had serious levels of crown rot or “white heads” last season (in both wheat and barley). It is important that a strategy to minimise losses this year
is employed to escape the 15 to 20% losses we witnessed. Avoid cereal on cereal on areas where crown rot was in 2013, this is the best agronomic solution and create a minimum two year cereal break where ever possible.
- Bushfire recovery
Unfortunately for some, both their fences and their sandiest soils have been impacted by the recent bushfires around Yapeet and Bronzewing. Soil cover loss due to burnt stubbles can result in significant soil movement. Many years of direct drill creating very stable soils has been subjected to risk by these events. Plan to sow these areas of deep sands early, with adequate nitrogen, ideally to either rye-corn or triticale and if possible in a north to south direction. Seek advice if soils are eroding and you are unsure of the best approach to take. Information about assistance with fire recovery can be obtained by calling the Rural Recovery Coordinator for the Mallee, Darryl Pearl on 03 5051 4500.
Look carefully at all of the above and involve your advisors if you have concerns. Ask the hard questions.
Summer weed spray missed application showing the impact in a wheat crop.
Effective summer weed control to prevent soil erosion and increase soil health The value of controlling summer weeds within the Mallee has been known for many years, and control measures implemented in various shapes and forms. By
Matt Witney, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management In the past, cultivation had been heavily relied on for this; however, this can often result in increased soil erosion and declines in the health of the soil. As the Mallee shifted into the ‘no till’ era, soil erosion has significantly reduced, and this has allowed many farmers to keep their top soil stable and farm more productively. Farmers in the Mallee have been implementing no-till farming now for more than five to 10 years, and there have been many learnings and key messages found throughout this time that have helped refine the art. This article summaries the five top learning or messages for controlling summer weeds in a no-till farming system in the Mallee.
1 - Timing
Effective summer weed control needs to be done on small, actively growing weeds. Summer weeds have the ability to extract high amounts of moisture and nutrients and can deplete soil moisture banks in a matter of days. Many factors impact the return on investment from summer weed control, but in wetter summers (150mm +), trial work has shown that for every dollar spent on summer weed control, we can generate a return of up to five to six dollars. This is provided that all the sprays are done on time and are effective.
2 - How and when to spray
For some farmers summer weed control can be difficult to fit into their current operation. Early morning and night spraying have replaced many of the day time activities in summer. Using the Delta T (indicator for acceptable spraying conditions) and coarse to very coarse droplets has assisted in hitting
the intended weed targets. Air induction nozzles (low and high pressure) also have assisted with managing spray application, as these have allowed a much larger droplet to be used that still spreads well on the plant via a venturi in the nozzle. Dust is another issue that can haunt summer spray applications, but knowing your conditions and slowing down accordingly will assist. Twin cap nozzles on the wheels can also help the situation. There is also a myth that livestock will control summer weeds, but this is false economy in many situations. Chemical control is far superior and if stock are run it’s advised to try and maintain your ground cover to a minimum of 50% and ideally 70% or greater.
3 - Knowing your weeds
When choosing an appropriate spray mixture, make sure you check paddocks thoroughly and abide by the chemical labels. No-till paddocks can change over time in their weed spectrum, and you will need to cater for some of the harder to kill weeds such as: • Fleabane – a tough, surface germinating weed which is best
A summer weed spray missed application showing the effect on crop growth and establishment.
to be targeted as a rosette. If the rotation allows, glyphosate, 24D and metsulfuron methyl mixes have shown good suppression in trial work; Marshmallow - this is also a weed that likes the lack of cultivation. Recent trial work has shown fluroxypyr has excellent activity on this weed as a spike; Couch grass – is a weed that spreads easily with cultivation, and dislikes multiple applications of glyphosate. The key is to keep persisting with glyphosate over a prolonged period (2-3 years), which can significantly lower plant populations; Rosin weed - although this weed looks innocent, it can suck subsoil moisture levels dry very quickly. It likes heavy soil types mainly, and can be hard to control. Higher rates of Ester (24D) (if your location allows) has been one of the most effective options; Skeleton weed - this weed has been problematic on many farms for years and especially on sand rises. Its large root system taps into nutrients and moisture at amazing depths and can make our light soil types very unproductive. Fortunately many have won the war with using effective chemical control over Summer and especially the use of glyphosate on rosettes in Autumn.
The trick is to keep hitting this weed whenever you can to exhaust the plant. Generally after 2-3 years of close attention, you will see a significant reduction in plant populations.
4 - Use solid rates that are on the product label When targeting summer weeds, always use robust rates and spray to effectively control all weeds present. Keep water rates up (60-70Lha) and always look at a particular chemical’s plant back restriction for future cropping implications. Remember that many of the spikes with glyphosate can reduce its performance, such as 2,4,D, esters (24D) and triclopyr, so make sure you add 10% more glyphosate when adding certain spikes. Just remember ‘spikes’ also assist with certain broadleaf weeds developing resistance to glyphosate. If your mix contains two or three modes of action (chemical groups), this then tricks the weeds, and the resistance risk is reduced.
5- Water quality
As many of the common summer mixes contain glyphosate, be aware that water quality can greatly affect its performance. Testing for hardness (calcium and magnesium irons) pH, and water clarity are some of the key checks to put in place. If the water is dirty/muddy, or is > 250 ppm of hardness, glyphosates performance will be greatly reduced.
Obligations and limitations: Please check the product label for registrations and use rates before using herbicides. Rates, application details and plant back information will assist with decision making in the operation. Also check where your farm lies within the chemical control area and what your legal requirements are.
This project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority with funding from the Australian Government.
Matt Witney, Senior Consultant, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management M: 0428 329 919 E: email@example.com
Zurn plot header harvesting cereal varieties at Walpeup 2013.
National variety trials yield results National Variety Trials (NVT) provide growers and the grains industry with accurate and unbiased information on the performance of varieties for each cropping region. By
Ivan Mock, Dodgshun Medlin
Trials are coordinated by the Australian Crop Accreditation System for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and managed by independent contractors. Dodgshun Medlin operates NVT sites in the Victorian Mallee in conjunction with South Australia Research Development Institute (SARDI). The varieties entered in each trial are those grown or more adapted in that region and those in the advanced stages of testing or pending release. Grain yield as well as quality and disease resistance ratings and other agronomic attributes are available on the website: www.nvtonline.com.au
When choosing a variety, it is recommended that growers review grain yield information from a range of sites over more than one season, as no one season is the same.
Wheat variety results
Yields from 2013 NVT wheat sites in the Victorian Mallee are presented in Table 1 on the next page. It is important for growers to minimise risk by choosing varieties with traits best suited to their particular rotation. Unfortunately there is no “one” wheat variety that meets every agronomic need.
Key traits farmers desire when deciding on a new variety include: • Yield – growing more ‘Crop Per Drop’ or ‘Kilogram of Grain Per Millimetre of Rain’, especially in drier years;
• Sprouting tolerance - minimising sprouting risk if a wet harvest occurs; • Rust resistance - needs to have a robust resistance to foliar rusts; • Consistent grain size with low screening traits; • Cereal Cyst Nematode (CCN) resistance - a much desired trait given the vast areas that are grown to the CCN susceptible barley Scope; • Consistency in establishment over varying soil types such as sand, sandy loam or heavy loam. • Quality Classification - the variety needs to suit the main quality grade for their area – (Hard or Australian Premium White (APW)). • Yellow leaf spot resistancedesirable in an intensive wheat rotation. • Test weight (TW), ideally the variety will have a consistent TW in both above and below average rain fall seasons. Following are some comments on the performance of recently released or current main stream wheats in 2013:
Mallee Farmer Table 1: 2013 NVT wheat yields shown as a percentage of the average site yield - (t/ha) Variety
Kord Clearfield Plus
Grenade Clearfield Plus
Justica Clearfield Plus
Site average (t/ha)
Scout is an Australian Hard quality variety, high yielding and has excellent sprouting resistance. Scout was released as a higher yielding, improved stem rust resistant variety compared to Yitpi. Scout does not adapt as well to deeper sands as some other varieties. Mace is a consistent high yielding variety and is widely grown in South Australia and increasing in area across the Victorian Mallee. The down sides are its stripe rust susceptibility and mid-range sprouting tolerance. Improved yellow leaf spot over Scout and Yitpi enables Mace to be a better option for wheat on wheat rotations. Corack continues to perform well and has gained a lot of interest with its impressive yields in the NVT trials over the previous two years. Corack is a Wyalkatchem derivative and has an APW classification. Corack is CCN resistant and has some sprouting tolerance with improved yellow leaf spot resistance. Shield is an Australian Hard quality variety with exceptional stem, stripe and leaf rust resistance. It also has moderate resistance to CCN and similar sprouting tolerance to Yitpi. Emu Rock continues to yield well in the Mallee NVTâ€™s. Grain yields have been very consistent particularly in
adequate rust resistance package and is another cereal option for brome grass management. 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.
drier seasons although it lacks CCN resistance and will build eelworm populations under the right conditions. ClearfieldÂŽ (CLF) wheats: Kord CLF Plus is an Australian Hard quality variety with improved grain yields and rust resistance compared to the older variety CLF Stiletto. Kord is CCN resistant although it lacks sprouting tolerance, thus should be harvested as soon as it is ripe to avoid potential weather damage due to sprouting. Grenade CLF Plus is a newer CLF variety and has created a lot of interest with its solid yields and good sprouting tolerance. It is CCN resistant with an
For more information
Contact Ivan Mock 0427 329 919 or Matt Witney 0428 329 919 Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management
Regent parrots are a threatened species that need corridors to move through the landscape.
Connecting Mallee Parks Over the next four years the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) will work with private landholders, community groups and public land managers to rebuild connections between the Murray Sunset and Big Desert/Wyperfeld National Park. By
Elizabeth Gosling, Mallee CMA The $3.2 million Connecting Mallee Parks project will offer financial support for on-ground works that improve the quality and extent of native vegetation between the major parks.
Murray Sunset National Park, Wyperfeld National Park and the Big Desert Wilderness Park are the largest areas of intact habitat remaining in the Mallee. These parks provide important refuges for native plants and animals that have suffered from land clearing in other parts of the Mallee. While the area between the parks has been mostly
cleared for agriculture, significant patches of remnant vegetation still remain on roadsides, private land and public reserves. These patches act as important stepping stones for wildlife moving between the major parks. The â€˜Connecting Mallee Parksâ€™ project aims to improve the condition of existing vegetation between the parks by reducing threats such as stock grazing and pest plants and animals. The project also aims to build on these remnants by revegetating areas with native species. The ultimate goal is to help rebuild the habitat connections and links between the major parks, to help native wildife move through the landscape. This ability to disperse is especially important to allow native species to adapt to a changing climate.
The project consists of: the Central Mallee Habitat Tender, targeted revegetation and grants for Landcare groups. Each of these sub-projects will focus on two separate areas between the Mallee parks (see map). These areas have been targeted because they contain significant areas of remnant vegetation.
Central Mallee Habitat Tender
Early this year landholders in the target area were invited to submit an expression of interest for undertaking works on their farm that protect and improve the quality of native vegetation. Works can include fencing remnant vegetation to exclude stock, controlling pest plants and animals, conservation covenants, and dune reclamations and salinity plantings to protect native vegetation from off-site salinity and erosion threats. Landholders nominate the price they want to be paid for completing the works. Tenders that represent the best environmental value for money will be successful.
The Mallee CMA is looking for areas for
targeted revegetation on private and public land. This could involve direct seeding within a degraded stand of native vegetation to improve its habitat value, or new plantings on farmland to link existing patches of native vegetation. The Mallee CMA will supply the seed, tubestock and labour for planting, and offer an incentive to fence the revegetation site. In-kind contributions from the landholder are required for site preparation and follow up watering and rabbit and weed control.
Grants will be available for Landcare groups to undertake works to reduce threats to native vegetation. Eligible activities include stock exclusion fencing, direct seeding of native species, and rabbit and weed control works. Weeds to be targeted include Bridal Creeper,
Athel Pine, African Boxthorn and cactus species. These grants aim to maximise the success of control efforts by working across private and public land.
Above top: Fencing to protect remnant vegetation from stock grazing. Above left: Funding for salinity plantings is available through Connecting Mallee Parks project. Above right: Funding is available to fence native vegetation to exclude stock.
The Connecting Mallee Parks project is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government.
For more information
on the Connecting Mallee Parks project contact the project officer: Elizabeth Gosling, Mallee CMA T: 03 5054 4365 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Converted equipment to farm no-till.
Stock help no-till Mallee farmers control weeds and erosion Third-generation Mallee farmer Nic Harrison knows you have to look after the land if you want to reap its rewards. “Dad’s motto is not to get too greedy,” he says. By
Kerry Grigg, Victorian No-Till Farming Association Nic runs Tyrrell Park, about 10 kilometres east of Sea Lake, with parents Ron and Meryl and he reckons his father’s saying is spot on. “ It’s a motto to live by, when it comes to getting the most from your soil, to apply to your farm and the marketing of its products.” The Harrisons crop nearly all their 2000-hectare property to wheat and barley and have used the no-till farming method for the past eight years. Their soil, predominantly sandy loam and some heavier creek flats, is growing healthier every season. And that makes the Harrisons happy.
“It’s definitely got better and our yields have improved with no-till for sure,” Nic says. “Firstly, the paddocks are a lot softer and spongier to walk on because of the higher organic matter and better soil structure. There are more worms and even a lot more natural growth such as toadstools.” Nic remembers dust storms that used to blow pulverised soil for miles, covering fence lines and exposing hard ground underneath. That doesn’t happen now. “We’ve got organic matter there – the stubble – all year round, and it’s actually building up,’’ Nic says. The Harrisons also run a sheep stud on their property and a handful of cattle. They keep the livestock separate from their cropping ground.
The Mallee country around Sea Lake was embracing the no-till method when Nic returned from his applied science degree at Dookie College in 2003. He reckons about 90 per cent of farmers in his district have adopted the no-till approach to varying degrees. The Victorian No-Till Farmers Association describes minimum till as ‘one pass seeding’ with points, creating less than 20 per cent soil disturbance. Zero or no-till is a ‘one pass’ sowing system using discs for minimal soil disturbance. “Our first step was converting our existing seeder for no-till, which involved changing the tyne pattern from nine inch to 12 inch and having narrower point,” Nic says. “We also put on press wheels to improve seed soil contact. We’re not going to ‘controlled traffic’ but we do have John Deere navigation on our sprayer and seeder. We’re precise in sowing to about two to three centimetres and we’ve recently got auto shut-off on our sprayer.”
Nic Harrison, Grain Grower of the Year 2010.
The Harrisons usually have a couple of chemical fallow paddocks a year, depending on the season, to reduce weed and seed banks. While no-till has cut tractor time once spent cultivating, it has added extra hours pulling the boom spray to tackle mainly grass weeds in cereal crops. Sometimes rust can raise its head if weather is humid in August and September and the boom spray is back at work. “I guess a down side to no-till is there’s a lot of chemical use and chemical resistance in the long term,” Nic says. The biggest test for no-till farming came when drought struck. That’s when improvements in soil health and moisture content came to the fore. Any rain that fell soaked in, instead of panning on the surface. Nothing was wasted. “When we first started no-till we had a few dry years and we realised we were still getting a harvest,” Nic says. A series of small paddocks close to their house is home to a growing Wiltipoll stud. The prime-lamb breed sheds its own wool and is highly resistant to fly strike, lice and grass seeds. Meryl oversees about 65 breeding ewes and two rams since starting the enterprise more than a year ago. She has five rams, her stud’s first progeny, for sale at the moment.
Emerging crop between stubble.
The small paddocks – the biggest about 13 hectares – are unsuitable for cropping but perfect for sheep. The stock, which help control weeds, are rotated to make the most of pasture growth and natural salt bush cover. The approach also helps paddocks, sown to vetch or snail clover, get away and prevents erosion issues in dry months.
Nic loves farming and its challenges. He’s passionate about the land, the science and technology side of the enterprise and the marketing strategies needed to sell their grain.
There are grain lick self-feeders and weather-proofed hay feeders in every paddock.
Nic Harrison was named Grain Grower of the Year 2010 in a nationwide award scheme supported by ABC Rural and the Kondinin Group.
“We try to keep the numbers down so the stock are in really good condition, won’t get too hungry and pulverise the soil too much,” Nic says. “We also try to rotate them round the paddocks so there’s always organic matter left so we don’t get erosion problems over summer.” Tyrrell Park used to carry 1,800 merino wethers and a self-replacing merino flock when Nic was a boy. They grazed on the stubbles until the farmers decided, at the start of their no-till journey, the stock were reducing organic matter, causing staggered germination by pressing seeds into the ground and creating feed and spray issues. Lambing also encroached on cropping work. So they’ve down-scaled their livestock and it’s working for them.
“No two years are ever the same and there’s always something different happening,” he says.
The article was written for Victorian No-Till Farmers Association with funding received from Grain and Graze 2.
For more information
Contact Kerry Grigg, Business Manager Victorian No-Till Farmers Association M: 0429 820 429 E: email@example.com
Farmers hear about the Mildura Best Pulse Crop Trial at the MSF Mildura field day. Inset: Field pea pods.
Betting on pulse crops in the northern Victorian Mallee The value of break crops in cropping rotations has been evident over the past few seasons in the northern Victorian Mallee. By
Michael Moodie and Todd McDonald, Mallee Sustainable Farming However selecting which break crop to grow, especially pulse crops, is challenging as there is very little trial information on the performance of break crops and varieties. To address this, Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) with funding from Grain Research Development Corporation (GRDC) implemented two ‘Best Bet Pulse Crop Demonstration Trials’ in 2013 to provide farmers with more information on the productivity of legume break crops and varieties in the northern Victorian Mallee region.
About the trial
Two trial sites were established, one near Mildura and one near Ouyen. Each trial had 12 treatments which covered seven different legume crop types. Varieties were selected after consultation with industry experts to determine which varieties for each of the pulse crops were likely to be best adapted to the northern Mallee.
The varieties and crop types selected were: • Field Pea - Twilight, Wharton, Pearl; • Chickpea - Striker, Genesis 090, Genesis 079; • Narrow Leaf Lupin - Manelup; • Albus Lupin - Luxor; • Vetch - Rasina, Volga; • Faba Bean - Farah; • Lentil - Bolt.
Both sites were on a sandy loam soil although the Ouyen site had a small amount of rubbly limestone on the surface. The soil analysis results for both sites is provided in Table 1. Due to a very dry summer, it is assumed that there was very little plant available soil water prior to sowing. Both sites were sown dry, Mildura on May 15th and Ouyen on May 20th. Both trials were sown into standing cereal stubble with No-Till plot seeders with tynes and press wheels. Glyphosate and Trifluralin (1.5 L/ha each) and 700 (g/ha) of Terbyne® were applied prior to sowing and 300 g/ha of Terbyne® was applied post sow pre-emergent.
Fertiliser (19-13-0-9) was banded below the seed at 50kg/ha. No in-crop fungicides were required due to a dry growing season; however 300ml/ha of Alpha-Cypermethrin insecticide was applied on the 14th of September to control Native Budworm. Both sites received approximately 150mm of growing season rainfall with approximately 90mm of this rain falling in the early winter (May-June-July) period. As a consequence of the early season rain, Bolt lentils were severely damaged by Terbyne® herbicide washing into the seed row, therefore no results for lentils were obtained.
• Pulse production was generally much higher at the Mildura site than the Ouyen site; • Field pea was the best yielding pulse crop at both sites; • Crop selection was more important than selecting the best variety; • Field pea, lupins and faba beans had the greatest biomass production; • Vetch biomass production was low due to the late break.
Mallee Farmer Table 1. Soil Analysis results for the Ouyen and Mildura trial sites prior to sowing Soil Parameter
Site Depth (cm)
Organic Carbon Conductivity pH Level (CaCl2)
Field pea pods.
Dry Matter kg/ha
1500 LSD Ouyen
p lu M
rto ha W
h ra Fa
er rik St
0 09 is G
Biomass was also measured for each treatment at pod fill. The biomass of legumes such as pulse crops is critical as it is a key determinant of nitrogen fixation. As a general rule, 15-25 kilograms of nitrogen is fixed per tonne of above ground legume dry matter produced. Twilight and Wharton field pea produced some of the highest biomass levels at both sites at around 2500 kg/ ha at Mildura and 1500 kg/ha at Ouyen. Mandelup lupins produced high biomass at Mildura, however was poor on the heavier soils at Ouyen. Luxor lupins and Farah faba beans are not normally grown in the Mallee, however both produced reasonable levels of biomass. Further assessment is required, but both could be looked at as brown manure crop options. Biomass production of vetch (Rasina and Volga) was poor at both sites; however vetch is known to struggle in late breaks like the one experienced in 2013.
The Mildura site performed stronger than at the Ouyen site for all varieties. Field peas were the highest yielders at both sites with Twilight the top performer with 1.3 t/ha at Mildura and 0.6 t/ha at Ouyen. As shown in Figure 1, selecting the best suited crop type had a greater impact on yield than selecting the best variety within a pulse crop type.
Figure 2. Biomass (kg dry-matter/ha) at pod fill of pulse crops and varieties grown at Ouyen and Mildura in 2013
These trials were conducted as part of the Mallee Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing Project which has shown big productivity benefits by including break crops in low rainfall cropping rotations. The aim of these trials was to provide farmers with local relevant data about selecting pulse crops for their farming systems. These trials will continue in 2014 so visit www.msfp.org.au to keep informed on the location and progress of the trials.
1.2 LSD Mildura
Grain Yield t/ha
The Mallee Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing Project is a collaboration between MSF and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) with funding from the GRDC.
0 Genesis 079 Raina
Genesis 090 Striker
Figure 1. Grain yield (t/ha) of pulse crops and varieties grown at Ouyen and Mildura in 2013
For more information contact Michael Moodie, MSF M: 0448 612 892 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The grants aim to improve and link habitat for wildlife, such as the Malleefowl.
Grants to Landcare groups Protecting and enhancing nationally threatened vegetation communities and species through grants to Landcare groups By
Gareth Lynch, Mallee CMA
The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is providing financial grants to ten Landcare groups to deliver on-ground works to help protect nationally threatened species and vegetation communities.
Threatened communities and species in the target areas
Two areas have been targeted for on-ground works: the Avoca area and the Wathe area. The Avoca target area takes in Birchip, Sea Lake, Lake Tyrell, Wahpool and Timboram. The Wathe target area incorporates Wathe and Paradise Flora and Fauna Reserves and Patchewollock State Forest. Within these areas, on-ground works will focus on protecting Buloke Woodlands, Natural Grasslands, Chariot Wheels, Slender Darling-pea, Plains Wanderer,(a small, quail like ground-dwelling bird) Regent Parrot, and Malleefowl which are all listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999. The Mallee, Hopetoun, Birchip, Sea Lake, Berriwillock, Culgoa, Nullawil, Waitchie, Manangatang and Nyah West
Landcare groups will all be involved in undertaking these works.
The Avoca target area contains important remnants of Buloke Woodlands and natural grasslands. Buloke woodlands have an overstorey dominated by Buloke, with Slender Cypress-pine, Belah and Sugarwood often present. Speargrass is found throughout the groundlayer and a tall shrub layer of Umbrella Wattle, Sweet Quandong and Weeping Pittosporum may be present. Natural grasslands are characterised by a groundlayer of native grasses and low shrubs (copperburrs, saltbush, bluebush) with only very occasional trees of Buloke or Cypress Pine present. These two vegetation communities provide key habitat requirements for Chariot Wheels, Slender Darling-pea and the Plains Wanderer . The Wathe target area provides important habitat for a number of threatened species which depend on mallee vegetation for their survival. The Malleefowl uses this area for breeding and feeding purposes, making use of the diverse range of understorey trees, shrubs and hummock grasses found in mallee vegetation. While the Regent Parrot breeds in the River Red Gums and Black Boxes of riverine and swampy woodlands, it travels to Wathe to feed on
the seeds of grasses and herbaceous plants.
On-ground works to address threats
There are several factors impacting the survival of threatened species and communities in the target area. Because most native vegetation exists as isolated patches, it is difficult for wildlife to move through the landscape to find feeding shelter and breeding sites. The quality of habitat is further reduced by weed invasion and grazing by rabbits, kangaroos and stock, which can prevent tree and shrub species from regenerating. On-ground works by the Landcare groups will help to address these threats. Work activities will focus on revegetation through direct seeding and controlling invasive species. The intensive attack on invasive species by the Landcare groups will also have broader benefits to the surrounding agricultural landscape through increased soil health and production. These works are expected to start in February 2014 and finish in June 2014. During this time, all adjoining landholders are encouraged to participate in the control of invasive species to ensure maximum results are achieved.
For more information
Contact the Mallee CMA on 03 5051 4377 or visit the website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Landcare Regional Overview
by Kevin Chaplin
New look Landcare team: Kevin Chaplin, Jess Cook, Glen Sutherland, Nicola Vaughan, Kim Cross and Kate Wilson.
Welcome to the fourth edition of the
team, with Kate Wilson moving from
Emerald, where she worked on property
Malleeâ€™s Landcare newsletter. This year
country Queensland to Hopetoun and
mapping and planning.
is shaping up to be an eventful and
Nicola Vaughan making the move from
important year for the Mallee Landcare
Melbourne to Mildura.
program with a number of projects and events planned throughout the coming months. The following pages outline what is happening in your particular patch as far as Landcare goes. Since our last issue in Spring 2013 we have said our goodbyes to Daniel Huttig
After two years with AXM, Kate took up a position with the Fitzroy Basin Association
Both Kate and Nicola come with impressive
(FBA), where the focus of her work was
records in natural resource management
to improve water quality in the catchment
and community development and will
areas of the Fitzroy River through farm-
serve their respective communities, and
based programs aimed at reducing
the Mallee Regional Landcare team, well.
sediment, pesticide and nutrient runoff.
Kate is originally from Victoria, having been raised on a dairy farm near Port Campbell.
Nicola has recently moved to Mildura from Melbourne where she was working
and Patrick Mickan, two of our Victorian
During her ten year stint in Queensland
in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation,
Local Landcare Facilitators from the South
Kate experienced working on a Santa
operating a wildlife shelter and coordinating
Western and Northern Mallee Landcare
Gertrudis stud as a station hand; and
volunteers for Wildlife Victoria and Western
Consortiums. This has opened the door
worked for environmental consulting
Animal Rescue. Nicolaâ€™s experience also
for two new faces to join the our Landcare
company AXM Research Pty Ltd in
includes working in Fiji for a community-
centered initiative developing conservation
programs and ensure full and transparent
The majority of groups across the Mallee
projects and empowering the local people
acquittal of all financial obligations of those
are once again functioning effectively and
to sustainably manage their natural
efficiently, even in the face of the ever increasing competition for funds.
resources. This initiative is now into the last half of Nicola has also assisted with environmental
its four year period and is making good
The Mallee Landcare support team
research projects at the University of
progress, with all Landcare groups having
stands ready to assist Landcare groups to
Melbourne, La Trobe University and with
formalised their five year strategic plans
continue to do so.
Melbourne City Council.
and identified areas of works on which they
Both Nicola and Kate are no strangers to helping their communities become more sustainable, which is certainly compatible with the focus of the Victorian Local Landcare Facilitator Initiative. Our Landcare team has a clear goal of assisting Landcare groups to become self-sustaining within the initiative’s current four year time frame.
would like to focus in the coming years.
So in closing, I would like to urge you all to continue to support local Landcare
All groups have used these action plans
activities within your communities,
to help identify funding opportunities and
whatever and wherever they may be
have been successful in obtaining various
and to help make sure that our Landcare
grant allocations over the last two years.
successes are highlighted far and wide across the Mallee and greater Victorian
Groups and consortiums are now making
good progress towards achieving complete autonomy and I am sure that we will see
This will reinforce and enhance our
groups continue to go from strength to
reputation as being proud, ‘can-do’ Mallee
strength as the Victorian Landcare program
people where the term ‘tough as a Mallee
continues to evolve.
bull’ captures the very essence of the
This means helping Landcare groups
Mallee community spirit and determination.
identify local priority actions, source
Our Mallee Local Landcare Facilitators have
funding for those actions independently,
proven to be an essential element for the
deliver efficient and effective on-ground
revitalisation of many Landcare groups.
Regional Mallee Landcare Coordinator.
Increasing volunteer participation across the Mallee region One of the greatest challenges facing our regional communities is how to attract more volunteers. Many of the services such as health, aged care, education and sport, delivered in our communities rely heavily on volunteer support. This is not confined to the Mallee, as the same challenges face many communities across Australia. In order to go some way towards addressing this issue, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority in partnership with the Mildura and District
Tree planting by Birchip Landcare Group and volunteers.
Educational Council (MADEC) have
responsibilities and can provide a high
and clients and awareness in safe work
designed a recognised qualification training
level of service that will benefit both the
course in Active Volunteering.
localised areas and the region as a whole. These are just a few of the areas to be
The course aims to better equip potential
Topics to covered by the training include
covered in this dynamic training.
students/candidates with the skills and
being an effective volunteer administrator,
Courses are expected to commence
knowledge that will allow them to become
how to communicate more effectively
mid-year and more information will be
effective volunteers who understand their
and interact professionally with services
distributed closer to that time.
by Kate Nickolls
Hello fellow landcarers! Following an action packed year, 2014 is shaping up to be another busy year in Murrayville with heaps of projects and collaborations. The group had a boost late in 2013 employing Eboni Musgrove to assist Kate Nickolls in the coordinator role; Eboni will be managing the pest plant and animal programs and Junior Landcare programs.
Victorian Landcare Grants The group was successful in receiving funding in the latest round of the Victorian Landcare Grants. Activities that received funding include a ripping program from west of the Murrayville township to the South Australian border, funding for speakers and catering for our annual field day and other events, and trees for the community planting day at the Cowangie Rail Reserve in July.
Eboni Musgrove, Murrayville Landcare Assistant Coordinator, undertaking native vegetation monitoring.
Pest Plants and Animals
to the kids about local birds, which was
Connecting Mallee Parks Project
We are nearing the end of another
fantastic. The project is now in its final
Murrayville Landcare Group is fortunate to
successful rabbit ripping campaign, which
year and we are planning a big community
be working alongside the Mallee CMA as a
followed a coordinated baiting program.
planting day and official opening for the site
key stakeholder in the Connecting Mallee
Murrayville was part of Department
in July, with various speakers, activities and
Parks project to be delivered over the
of Environment and Primary Industry
a camp oven lunch.
next four years through funding from the
compliance program in 2013 with the
follow up inspections to take place in
The primary school hosted the Mallee
The project is closely aligned to our Local
Catchment Management Authority (CMA)
Area Action Plan and will have a positive
The inspectors were impressed by the
WaterWatch and Sustainability trailer
impact within our community both with the
work landholders had done over the past
one wet and windy day in October. A
large scale programs run by the Landcare
10 years to keep rabbit numbers lower than
huge thanks to Glen Sutherland, Regional
group, public land managers and the
in other areas. We also held our bi-annual
Landcare Facilitator for bringing it down
tender-based program for landholders.
spotlighting competition in March and
and talking to the students about the
had a bit of friendly competition against
creatures they caught in the school dam,
Our role over the next four years will be
Millewa! We have also treated and GPS
and water health and safety.
to coordinate an annual rabbit ripping
recorded all known cactus locations as part of our pest plant program.
campaign, control pest plants and The Landcare group has been working
implement the Monitoring and Evaluation
closely with the Murrayville Community
project in our area.
Cowangie Rail Reserve
College to create an outdoor classroom to
Itâ€™s all been happening out at Cowangie Rail
complement the agriculture facilities. We
The group looks forward to strengthening
Reserve! Over 1,200 trees were planted in
were successful in the latest Foundation
our partnership with the other stakeholders
2013 â€“ unfortunately, (or fortunately for the
for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)
and to promote landscape change and
trees!) we had to cancel our National Tree
Seeds of Renewal Grants program, and will
awareness within the community.
Day Schools event due to pouring rain on
now have three big water tanks to catch
rain water from the Agriculture shed for
If you would like any further information
stock, primary vegie gardens, horticulture
on any of our projects please contact
Instead we had the BBQ lunch at the
programs, orchard and the future
Kate and Eboni on 0477 550 161 or email:
school and a local landholder came to talk
Eastern Mallee News
by Kim Cross
After an eventful and challenging 2013 harvest period the Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium volunteers are getting ready for the new year ahead. Aiming to continue their efforts in engaging the community and managing pest, plant and animal threats. Collectively Consortium groups have attracted over $16,000 in grants to undertake these works. A detailed breakdown of the grants can be seen in Table one. Pictured is a map of GPS points indicating roadside pest rabbit burrows treated via mechanical ripping in 2013. All on-ground projects were successfully delivered by landholders, government agencies and the local community. This collaboration is vital to ensure projects are successful and to
Extent of road side rabbit control works in 2013.
support the regeneration of our threatened and vulnerable flora/fauna species in the
successful Natural Resource Management
mobile phones, with funds going towards
supporting gorillas in Asia.
The group recently acquired funding for a group BBQ trailer and will be holding community gatherings in 2014 to encourage new Landcare members. New group contact email:
For more information on upcoming
Robinvale P-12 Community Garden
sustainable funding visit: www.education. vic.gov.au/about/programs/infrastructure/ pages/energygrant.aspx
Shirley Pratt - ready to go in her new Coordinator role for Kooloonong-Natya Landcare.
Sustainable schools St.Marys Primary School Sea Lake and Manangatang P-12 were recipients of a Victorian Government Sustainability Grant. The grant will enable staff and students to plan and implement energy saving initiatives and technologies.
New coordinator for Kooloonong-Natya Shirley Pratt has accepted a coordinator position with the Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group. Shirley and her husband operate a vineyard which has been producing wine grapes in the Nyah District since 1980.
Elizabeth Cook, a teacher from Manangatang P-12 said â€œsustainability funding provides opportunities for students to understand the importance of energy saving practices and how they can contribute to reducing their carbon footprintâ€?.
Shirley has extensive experience in secretarial roles, which includes her own business and as a volunteer for the local harness training club. Shirley is eager to get to know group members and how she can contribute to
Other programs the school has been involved with include an energy audit, tree planting, green camp (Youth Leading the World) and wrapper-free lunches. The school is part of the resource smart program and students have collected old
As facilitator I have been fortunate enough to be able to support students at Robinvale P-12 in the development of their community garden. An open day was held recently and was well attended, supported by various culturally diverse community groups. Basil Natoli made a special appearance on the day and offered expert advice. Basil has had over 10 years of experience in creating and managing successful community gardens. The concept, initially funded by Swan Hill Rural City Council, was driven by students from planning to completion. Mallee CMAâ€™s Waterwatch and Sustainability trailer was a popular attraction on the day, manned by myself and Regional Landcare Facilitator, Glen Sutherland. I look forward to revisiting the garden as it grows and develops.
ACUP Training and 1080 accreditation
Table 1: Successful Eastern Mallee NRM Grants July 2013-December 2013
for Landcare members
Nyah West and Manangatang Landcare
Manangatang Landcare Group
$10,000 Avoca Basin Grant - Roadside rabbit ripping
$11,300 Landcare roadside corridor rabbit control works
Groups were successful in obtaining funds to hold Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) and 1080 courses for Landcare members. Funds for Nyah West were provided
Robinvale/Annuello Landcare Group
Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Mallee CMA-VLG13-14 Group FaHCSIA
through the Federal Government Department of Families, Housing,
Waitchie Landcare Group
through the Victorian Communities for Nature Grant. Sea Lake Landcare Group
The Agricultural Users 10 year Permit is issued by Department of Environment and Primary Industry and allows the use of ‘restricted supply’ and ‘restricted use’ chemicals. 1080 accreditation allows authorised persons in Victoria to purchase a range of 1080 pest animal bait products.
Nyah West Landcare Group
Enhancing biodiversity, bunny busting and community kinship project
Protecting environmental assets, controlling rabbits and enhancing biodiversity in the Mallee Volunteer grant for purchase of group laptop computer and software
$10,000 Avoca Basin Grant - Roadside rabbit ripping
$10,000 Avoca Basin Grant-Roadside rabbit ripping
$11,300 Nyah West biodiversity project
$10,000 Avoca Basin Grant-WoNs control
FaHCSIA Nyah District Action Group
Rabbits are off and racing in Manangatang - Part 2
$4,500 Volunteer grant for purchase of group BBQ trailer
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; while Manangatang received funds
An assessment of Dunmunkle Creek ecological assets
Volunteer Grant for ACUP & 1080 accreditation courses
Nyah & District Action groups Boxthorn BashStage 2
More courses will be held in 2014. For further details please contact Janeece Stanyer at: email@example.com or look for updates on the Mallee Regional Landcare Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/MalleeRLN
Weeds of National Significance on the radar Nyah District Action Group is celebrating after receiving news of its successful application through the Victorian Landcare Grants 2013-14 to continue efforts controlling African Boxthorn in the Nyah Irrigation District. This project will begin in March 2014 and be supported by the Nyah West Landcare Group, contributing to controlling this invasive Weed of National Significance (WoNS). Wheel cactus outbreaks along roadsides have also been identified across the eastern Mallee. I will be working closely with local council and land managers to put a control plan into action. This includes applying for funds, localised treatments and mapping outbreaks.
Youth leading the world promotional poster: Swan Hill Rural City Council helped organise the Robinvale event.
South-Eastern Mallee News
by Jess Cook
South Eastern Mallee Landcare Groups have been busy during the harvest season, with projects completed, successful grants announced, and planning for 2014 projects well underway.
Nullawil’s tour of China The Nullawil Landcare Group had an amazing time in China, with many stories of things seen, places visited, and the different way of life. The group visited the port where their grain arrives, the factory where the barley is malted and saw the incredible speed that tractors can be assembled in a factory.
Local wetlands benefit from the environmental water delivered as part of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project.
The trip wasn’t all business, the group also
the consortium area in order to effectively
climbed the Great Wall, visited temples and
control rabbits on a larger scale. Also
2013 was a very active year for the South-
gardens, ate many banquets full of local
beginning in February, there are a few
Eastern Mallee Landcare groups with an
groups that have complementary rabbit
influx of funding, the groups to undertake
baiting programs planned.
a number of pest plant and animal control,
delicacies, and learnt to haggle with street vendors! All those who attended, and those left behind, are looking forward to the plans for the proposed 2014 study tour.
revegetation, and community projects. The groups aim to reduce rabbit numbers across the south eastern Mallee area
Birchip community walking track The Birchip Landcare Group recently completed their joint project with the Birchip Lions Club, a community walking track out to the Pump Hut Reserve. This walking track has been a priority of the Birchip community for a number of years and has improved accessibility into the reserve for the less mobile members of the community. The funding for this project came from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) Small Grants for Small
by coordinating works across group
Groups held information sessions on topics ranging from soil health to cultural heritage,
and held field days and trips including
Pest plant control in 2014
wildflower bus trip.
A number of groups also have funding for pest plant control works for 2014. Boxthorn control is the main priority for the year, with groups planning to remove all large plants from designated target areas. Culgoa Landcare Group will be running a follow up control program for the single known infestation of Hudson Pear.
Nullawil’s soil pit session and Birchip’s
Environmental water There has been a lot of interest about the wetlands that are receiving environmental water as part of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project. There are a number of wetlands in the south eastern Mallee that are part of this project. These wetlands have been
Rural Communities, and the Birchip
The Culgoa and Berriwillock Landcare
providing an important water source for
Landcare Group wishes to thank all
Groups worked together in 2013 to treat
wildlife during summer, with reports
community organisations that supported
this highly invasive Weed of National
from landholders of increased use by
Significance species, which had not
a wide range of birds and mammals as
previously been recorded in the area.
temperatures increased in December and
Rabbit control in 2014 South Eastern Mallee Landcare Groups
Funding for 2014
plan to start 2014 with a flurry of projects
While there are a number of pest plant and
For more information.
after receiving a number of grants.
animal control projects and revegetation
If you live in the south eastern Mallee
projects already planned for 2014, we are
and would like to be involved in our 2014
February onwards will see the 2014 ripping programs begin, with groups working
still waiting for a number of grants to be
projects, contact your local Landcare
announced, which may see even more
group or myself on 0409 615 846 or email:
together to roll control works out across
projects undertaken throughout 2014.
In October 2013, the Nullawil Landcare Group experienced a 10 day whirlwind study tour of China. The trip tracked their malting barley from paddock to glass, and highlighted the differences in farming practices. The tour was sponsored by Chinatex, a Chinese company that buy barley from Access Grain in Nullawil. The tour kicked off with three days in Beijing where the group visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, which provided the first encounter with street vendors and haggling. The group experienced rickshaw rides, the Olympic Centre including the famous Birds Nest Stadium and Water Cube. Afterwards, a traditional Peking Duck banquet at a multi-story Peking Duck restaurant was thoroughly enjoyed. We visited the Great Wall of China at the JuYong Pass, the clear skies and sunshine providing magnificent views and excellent photo opportunities. The climb was tough, with steep, well-worn steps to pagodas that provided resting points. The view at the top was spectacular and well worth the sore legs. Our next stop was Yancheng where the main difference between Australian and Chinese farming was very evident. Australian farms seem to be getting bigger with huge paddocks filled with a single crop type, but all the farms we could see were tiny strip farms with all sorts of crops packed together. Ruby, our guide and translator, informed us that small strip farming is how the land is divided up and that most of the labour for planting and harvest is done by hand. Ruby was amazed by the size of the farms in Australia and how few people live on and run them. In Suzhou every available space was used to grow something, on rooftops, up telephone poles, on the banks right down to the waterline. Everything from corn cobs, rice, cotton and grain is left to dry on the concrete between the buildings and the roads; silk worms grow in racks by the side of the road, as well! While in Suzhou, we visited the Hyaline Malt Factory. We were treated as
Top left: Truly a land of massive contrasts; the lights of ultra-modern Hong Kong. Top right: Chinese tourism icon the Great Wall (JuYong Pass). Bottom: The steady march of progress, modern cities rolling over traditional Chinese farming lands.
â€˜Honoured Guestsâ€™ and given the chance to see the entire malting process. We also visited a tractor factory and were amazed at the speed tractors were constructed and the massive amount that could be made in a day. The Dafeng Port on the Yellow Sea, was amazing to see. The port consisted of a number of piers extending into the ocean. The first pier we inspected was a two-lane road that extended 5km out into the sea, with giant cranes, machinery and even a two story building. Another pier had a 4km long shore to the ship conveyor belt used to transport grain to waiting ships. The next destination was the quiet(er) city of Suzhou known for silk and scholars. Despite getting into town late, we raced through hair-raising traffic and made it to a silk factory for a tour and shopping frenzy before it closed.
The next day there were tours of the Lingering Garden, the Land and Water Gates, and Tiger Hill. Shanghai was our next stop, travelling in style on the fast train. On arrival we were once again struck by the difference between the city and the country, with bright lights on every building; the ever growing city popping up around ever decreasing patches of small farm; and extensive, confusing, multi-level highways. That night we attended the incredible Chinese Acrobats show at the Golden Magnolia Theatre, which was an aweinspiring, jaw dropping spectacular of human strength and flexibility. The next morning we toured the area known as Oriental Venice, and had lunch at a restaurant on the edge of a canal. After a gondola ride back to the entrance things got a bit crazy as we tried to leave, with swarms of curious school children surrounding the group. Continued over page
South-Eastern Mallee News cont. We learnt a few new things while we were away, including: • How to haggle with shop keepers and street vendors; • How to cross the road in a pack (despite the lights) so you can watch every direction and not get run over; • That you can load a scooter to transport four crates of chickens, or two wool packs of rubbish, or a family of three; • That you need to ask what each dish of the banquet is, unless you want a surprise. On the trip back to Suzhou we were overtaken by buses full of excited waving children every time we were spotted. Back in Shanghai we window shopped in East Nanjing Road, before heading to Chinatown to practice our haggling while exploring the shops and stalls; experienced a traditional tea ceremony and tried the famous steamed buns. We spent our last night in China on a cruise boat on the Huangpu River, marvelling at the Shanghai skyline made up of brightly lit buildings, which changed colours and made patterns.
We marvelled at the difference between the subsistence living in the country and the over the top always lit up lifestyle in the cities; got stuck in traffic on a five level highway; ate everything from seaweed to jellyfish to chicken feet, snails to Peking Duck and limpets; and survived using the squat toilets! The trip was declared a resounding success by all, and the Nullawil Landcare Group are planning a 2014 study tour.
Kate Nickolls and Eboni Musgrove -
Kevin Chaplin - Regional Landcare
Phone: 0477 550 161
Coordinator. Phone: 03 5051 4367
Murrayville Landcare Group.
Kate Wilson - South Western Landcare
Jess Cook - South Eastern Landcare
Facilitator. Phone: 0409 655 646
Facilitator. Phone: 0409 615 846
Beulah Landcare Group;
Berriwillock Landcare Group;
Hopetoun Landcare Group;
Birchip Landcare Group;
Rainbow and District Landcare Group; and
Culgoa Landcare Group;
Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group.
Lalbert Landcare Group;
Murrayville Landcare Facilitators.
Nullawil Landcare Group; and Kim Cross - Eastern Mallee Landcare
Ultima Landcare Group.
Facilitator. Phone: 0427 883 100 Nyah West/Swan Hill West Landcare Group;
Nicola Vaughan - Northern Mallee
Manangatang Landcare Group;
Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 03 5051 4320
Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group;
Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group;
Waitchie Landcare Group;
Yelta Landcare Group;
Sea Lake Landcare Group; and
Kulkyne Way Landcare Group; and
Robinvale Landcare Group.
Red Cliffs Landcare Group.
Upcoming events Training for Landcare groups: Understanding legal responsibilities of being an executive member and the legalities and management of volunteers. Ouyen - Tuesday March 12 Birchip - Wednesday 13 March Contact: Susie Johnson, Victorian Farm Trees and Landcare Association. Phone: 03 9207 5590 Training for Landcare groups: Negotiation and conflict resolution training for Landcare facilitators and members. Ouyen - Thursday March 19, 8.30am 4.00pm Contact: Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA. Phone: 03 5051 4670 Controlling weeds workshops: Workshops will focus on Wheel Cactus, Prickly Pear, Flaxleaf Fleabane, Silverleaf Nightshade and African Boxthorn control. Mildura - Northern Mallee Christian Centre - Monday 17 March, 5pm - 9pm Walpeup - Mallee Research Station Tuesday 18 March, 10am - 2pm Woomelang - Woomelang Memorial Hall Tuesday 18 March, 5pm - 9pm Nyah - Nyah West Senior Citizens Centre Wednesday 19 March, 5pm - 9pm Lunch or Dinner included. Contact: Narelle Beattie, Mallee CMA. Phone: 0429 132 824
Mallee Landcare News Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone: (03) 5051 4377 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502 www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
This publication may be of assistance to you but the Mallee Catchment Management Authority refers readers to our Terms and Conditions, available from our website. Printed on 80% recycled Australian paper made from pre- and post-consumer waste.
National Landcare survey Surveys: love them or hate them they are here to stay. By
Glen Sutherland Regional Landcare Facilitator Sometimes it seems that every man, woman and their dog want our opinion about this, that, or the other and usually right on meal time or during the weather segment on the Country Hour. So what is the point of all these surveys anyway, if itâ€™s not to just drive us to distraction most of the time? The answer lies in the stuff that comes out the other end of those forms or phone calls; the survey results. Those results have an impact on everything from what we see on TV, the choice of items on our supermarket shelves, to what farmers will need to grow next season to meet ever changing market demands. In one way or another, surveys can influence every aspect of our daily lives. An important and influential survey relevant to Landcare and farming is the National Landcare Survey, most recently conducted in May 2013 by the National Landcare Facilitator project, which is an initiative of the Australian Government. The survey involved telephone interviews with 500 commercial farmers from all states (other than the ACT), age groups and enterprises (beef, sheep, dairy, cropping, and horticulture). The 2013 survey included questions about the impact of pest animals and weeds on farming enterprises and the costs associated with their control. Farmers have consistently ranked pest animals and weed control as one of their top Landcare issues1. Results from the most recent survey highlighted that pest animal and weed control still remains a major Landcare issue for Australian farmers with an average expenditure per farm of $20,640 ($15,756 weeds and $4,884 for pest animals). Note that these figures do not include loss of income or opportunity costs and the pest animal figures are largely for vertebrate pests, typically feral pigs and goats, wild dogs, foxes, rabbits and mice2.
Pest plant - Silverleaf nightshade.
To give an indication of the impact of pest animals and weeds nationally, this equates to an annual direct expenditure by Australian farmers on pest animals and weed control of approximately $2.38 billion based on the 2011/12 Australian Bureau of Statistics number of farmer enterprises3.
The total average spend across all areas to manage pests over the last 12 months was $4,884. The primary reason stated for undertaking pest control on their farm was increase productivity/value and to protect stock.
The majority of respondents said they undertook control activities of some type for pest animals or weeds on their property over the last 12 months (89% for weed control and 74% for pest animal control). Only 6% of those surveyed said that they did not do either4. The main reasons cited for weed control was to improve the productivity of the holding followed by general maintenance, protecting stock from toxic plants poisoning and benefiting native plants and animals. Only 2% of survey participants said they undertook weed control to comply with legislative requirements5. A significant proportion of farmers did not have a written weed management plan. Of those who did, 75% said that it played an important role in guiding their weeds management action throughout the year5.
The survey highlighted that most farmers tended to spend more money for pest control inputs such as toxins/baits and ammunition than they did on outside labour/contractors and carried out the work themselves.
More farmers (88%) didnâ€™t have written pest management plans than those who didnâ€™t have weed management plans. Of those who did have a pest management plan, 89% said that it guided their management significantly. The 2012 and 2013 National Landcare Surveys were conducted by the National Landcare Facilitator project, which is an initiative of the Australian Government, Department of Agriculture and are available online at: www.landcareonline.com.au 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Increasing profitability with alternative break crops and herbicide control options
The aim of this project is to investigate alternative break crop sequences and cereal herbicide control options that can increase profitability and reduce brome grass populations in the Mallee. Birchip Cropping Group established a trial site at Chinkapook and Mallee Sustainable Farming established a site west of Mildura. The project outcomes for both sites are presented as follows.
Mallee rotations that beat brome grass and make money - Chinkapook By
De-Anne Ferrier, Birchip Cropping Group. The crop sequencing trial at Chinkapook investigated one and two year break crop sequences, specifically the impact of non-cereal crop rotations and the use of group B herbicides for brome grass control.
In 2011, a four year trial was established in a long term cereal paddock at Chinkapook in a typical dune-swale Mallee landscape. One and two year non-cereal break crops or cereals with
group B herbicide applied to target brome grass were established. Various crop types, chemical groups and management options were compared via three complete randomised blocks. Plot size was 2.5m x 20m. Table 1 provides a summary of the 15 different treatments over the life of the trial. On 9 April 2013, in the third season of this trial, topsoil was collected to measure baseline weed seed bank, soil biology and root disease levels. Soil nutrition and moisture were measured to depth. Brome grass populations were evaluated on 18 June, 23 July and 29 August.
Table 1: 2011, 2012 treatment descriptions (one and two year break descriptions include both legume and brome grass breaks). Treatments
Herbicide / Break crop
CLF wheat/CLF wheat
2 year herbicide control
2 year herbicide control
1 year break crop
1 year break crop
2 year break crop
Triazine Tolerant (TT) canola/Field Pea
2 year break crop
1 year herbicide, 1 year break crop
Chemical Fallow/CLF canola
2 year break crop
Vetch hay/CLF canola
2 year break crop
2 year break crop
2 year break
2 year break
Volunteer (Vol). Pasture/Vol. Pasture
2 year break
Chem Fallow/Chem Fallow
2 year herbicide control
Yield, quality and gross margins were statistically analysed. Findings from this project will be used for crop sequencing modelling. This trial will be sown to wheat in 2014. In 2013 wheat (Grenade CLF Plus) was grown on all treatments (but Clearfield herbicide was not used) to measure the influence of each crop sequence on soil water, nitrogen and brome grass populations. The difference between each sequence was measured by 20112013 yield and gross margins.
Results and Interpretation
Chinkapook rainfall As can be seen in Table 2, the 2011 season was excellent for crop growth with both high summer and growing season rainfall (GRS). In 2012, summer rainfall was the driver for crop growth as the GSR was only decile 2. In 2013 summer rainfall was much lower (decile 3) and neither weeds nor self-sown cereals emerged prior to sowing. Decile 4 GSR would have governed plant growth, together with any residual soil moisture carried over from the previous years.
Key message • In years with high summer rainfall, growing break crops is low risk and is an effective management strategy for reducing weeds, while growing profitability; • Two year breaks are better than one at achieving favourable returns and reducing brome grass populations; • The best brome grass control and gross margins were achieved by two year rotations of Clearfield canola/vetch and continuous Clearfield wheat followed by wheat.
Mallee Farmer Table 2: Chinkapook rainfall for 2011, 2012 and 2013. 2011
GSR (Apr-Oct) (mm)
*Deciles obtained from the Rainman computer program using long term rainfall from Manangatang
The treatment with the highest gross margin and medium-low brome numbers ($1305/ha; 12pl/m2) was the CLF wheat/ chickpeas sequence. However, high gross margins were also achieved by the CLF canola/vetch ($1221/ha) and CLF wheat/CLF wheat ($1062/ha) and brome grass numbers of only 6pl/m2. Figure 1 provides a clear comparison of the respective performance of the different treatments which can also be compared with the brome grass controls of each.
The most profitable treatment was the CLF wheat/chickpea sequence. This sequence was also effective at reducing brome grass numbers (12pl/m2). This would generally be considered a high input sequence, but in years in which soil moisture is abundant, the cost of inputs can be returned in increased yield. $500/ tonne was used as a price for chickpea grain, but the market for chickpeas has now fallen to approximately $380/tonne (January 2014). This highlights the need for sensitivity analyses to be undertaken for each commodity.
Even though the one year break field peas/wheat sequence had a high gross margin, brome grass numbers were greater (brome grass 36pl/m2) than the other treatments already mentioned.
Brome grass chemical fallow.
The project results so far have shown that two year breaks are better than one at achieving favourable returns and reducing brome grass populations. Two year breaks that include legumes and/ or use Clearfield technology can reduce brome grass numbers to low levels and be very profitable.
Please note, unfortunately the grazing values of pasture treatments had not been calculated at the time of writing. As such, only input costs were included when statistical analysis was undertaken.
Current results show that caution needs to be exercised if using group B herbicides for two years in a row or longer, as brome grass populations will develop herbicide resistance.
To date this trial has shown that after high summer rainfall, growing a break crop is low risk and an effective management strategy for reducing weeds, while providing profitable gross margins.
Calculations on pasture costs and benefits require further investigation, but brome grass numbers were substantially suppressed in this study.
Clearfield canola followed by vetch and Clearfield wheat-on-wheat rotations effectively reduced brome grass numbers (brome grass 6pl/m2) and were also profitable.
This trial was funded by Grain Research and Development Corporation through the Low Rainfall Collaboration Group Crop Sequencing Project
2011-2013 Cumulative Gross Margin ($/ha)
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Final Brome Count 29.8.13 )pl/m2)
2011-2013 GM ($/ha): P<0.001, LSD=$283, CV20%; Final Brome (pl/m2): P<0.001, LSD=13pl/m2, CV18%.
Figure 1. 2011-2013 cumulative gross margin ($/ha) and final brome grass populations on 29.8.13 (pl/m2).
Inspecting the crop sequencing trial at the MSF Mildura field day.
Impressive wheat yields after two years of break crops Mildura By
Michael Moodie1, Nigel Wilhelm2, Peter Telfer2, Todd McDonald1 1 Mallee Sustainable Farming Mildura; 2 SARDI Waite campus Adelaide This trial located 30km west of Mildura was established in 2011 on a low fertility sandy soil where over 10 cereal crops had been grown continuously and brome grass was an emerging issue.
for two consecutive seasons. In 2012 vetch, which had been brown manured early, had on average 15mm more water pre-sowing than continuous wheat. Substantial levels of inoculum for the root disease Rhizoctonia were detected prior to sowing in 2013. Generally speaking, Rhizoctonia inoculum levels increased where wheat had been grown in 2012. Continuous wheat, barley-wheat, peaswheat and oats-wheat were all at a high risk of Rhizoctonia infection where yield losses of 10-50% were possible.
2013. Mineral nitrogen in the soil profile (0-120cm) was very low (around 40kg/ha) following continuous wheat, but relatively high (100 kg N/ha) following rotations where vetch had been included or a two year fallow. â€ƒ The two year fallow had approximately 28mm more water than continuous wheat pre-sowing. However, this is not a lot of reward for having lost production
In-crop grass weeds
The brome grass weed burden was scored for each treatment in early July. All two year break options were very
Table 1: List of treatments (rotations) implemented in the Mallee Crop Sequencing Trial. 2013 Crop
b 2013 Sowing
N Applied in 2013 kg N/ha
Treatments in 2013 were sown at two different times depending on the grass weed risk and treatments had different levels of nitrogen applied throughout the growing season depending on rotational history and yield potential. Nitrogen requirements were predicted using Yield Prophet.
Pasture, High seed bank
Pasture, Low seed bank
A summary of each treatment and the key agronomic management practices in 2013 are provided in Table 1.
2013 pre-seeding soil conditions soil
First year phase (2011)
Second year phase (2012)
In 2011, nine different break options were established and compared against continuous wheat. In 2012, a second break phase was implemented (two year break) or the rotation was returned to wheat one year break). In 2013, all rotations were returned to either conventional wheat (variety Shield) or Clearfield wheat (variety Grenade).
2 Years 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years
Rotation history had a big impact on mineral nitrogen, water and root disease inoculum in the soil prior to seeding in
Mallee Farmer Acknowledgement
This trial is a collaboration between MSF and South Australian Research Development Institute with funding from Grain Research Development Corporation Low Rainfall Crop Sequencing Project. In 2014 the site will again be sown to wheat to monitor the long term effects of these rotations on cereal production. Differences were evident early in the crop sequencing trial.
clean, regardless of break type. High brome grass numbers had re-emerged in the 2013 wheat crop following only a one year break in 2011. Subsequently Intervix was applied where barley-wheat, canola/pea mix-wheat, oat-wheat, field pea-wheat and fallow-wheat were the rotation phases prior to 2013 (Table 1). Wheat-wheat and canola-wheat rotations had Intervix applied in 2012 and the brome grass growing on these plots were obviously affected by Clearfield herbicide residues, therefore Intervix was not reapplied to these treatments in 2013.
For more information
panicle number at crop maturity despite high brome grass numbers (e.g. peas/ wheat or oats/wheat).
If you would like more information or to discuss the trial and results, please contact:
Wheat yield benefits from previous rotations
Michael Moodie, MSF M: 0448 612 892 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a large step-up in 2013 in wheat yields from rotations that included only a one year break compared to where there was a two year break (Figure 1). In all treatments where wheat was grown in 2012, yields range from 1.1-1.5 t/ha. However, where there were two years of breaks in 2011-12, wheat yields were 2.1 to 2.6 t/ha in 2013.
Brome grass density (plants per m2) and panicle number (m2) were assessed prior to harvest. All two year breaks had low weed pressure at harvest with the exception of pastures which had only been spray-topped previously. However, where pastures had received a grass selective herbicide plus spray-topping grassy weed pressure appeared to be much lower. The results show the benefits of Intervix applied in 2013 supressing brome grass density and
Compared to continuous wheat, the benefit of having a two year beak prior to 2013 at the Mildura site was 0.7-1.2 t/ha. It should also be noted that the fallow-wheat and the field pea -wheat treatments led to a wheat yield increase of 0.3 t/ha in the 2012 wheat. However, this break effect appears to have only lasted a single season, possibly due to the rapid re-establishment of brome grass in these treatments in 2013.
Grain Yield t/ha
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Figure 1. Wheat in 2013 (t/ha) following different rotations in 2011 and 2012. Error bars represent the standard error of each treatment.
Mallee Sustainable Farming hosted field days at Matt Curtis’ property for other Mallee farmers to see how the grazing system worked and how it was benefitting Matt’s cropping and livestock enterprises.
Rappa boosts grazing efficiency in large, long crop paddocks We’ve all seen it – sheep sitting around a trough in a huge paddock with an arc of overgrazed or bared out ground cover nearby while the other end is nearly untouched yet tasty … for a sheep. By
Deanna Lush GRDC Southern Science Writer
Matt crops about 2,430ha of wheat, 250ha of peas and canola, 400ha of cereals 200ha of vetch and runs 900 Merinos ewes mated to Merinos and White Suffolks.
With paddocks on mixed properties now larger to cater for machinery, one of the key issues has been efficiently grazing them during the pasture or sown-feed phase of a rotation.
MSF used a Rappa fencing unit and temporary electric wires to exclude sheep access to low ground cover areas and reduce overgrazing and erosion risk, while improving feed use.
In 2012, Mallee Sustainable Farming’s (MSFs) Michael Moodie worked with two growers to conduct on-farm trials to look into innovative solutions to the problem of uneven grazing in large Mallee paddocks’.
Matt used the Rappa unit to split a 100ha paddock in half but erosion-prone areas were fenced off, allowing the ground cover to grow where he wanted it.
The first year of the trial was conducted in 2012 at Matt Curtis’ property, 35 kilometres east of Mildura.
Wallaroo oats were sown for sheep feed and Matt ran 300 Merinos with White Suffolk lambs for two months on one half, then swapped them to the other half. He could have had a higher stocking rate, but opted to cut some non-grazed areas for hay “The advantage was put the
sheep where you wanted them,” Matt said. “If you have one big paddock, they just congregate around the water bare that out and don’t touch other areas to graze. “The strategy increased efficiency in grazing by 30 percent, there is normally one-third of the paddock that would not be grazed.” The downside was a few emus became tangled in the wire but Matt says next time, instead of buying a wire with a
Key Points • Trial investigates ways to efficiently graze large Mallee cropping paddocks • Rappa electric fence system used to restrict access to low ground cover areas • Paddocks split to replicate cell grazing to improve feed/pasture use • Central location of water points in long paddocks key to success of Rappa system
Mallee Farmer He thought electric fencing might not work because it was only three strands of wire that were not high. They mowed a strip to put the fence up and went back and sprayed it later. “The sheep must have got close enough to get a hit from it because they never put any pressure on it,” Corey said.
Above Left: Rainbow farmer Corey Smith wraps-up the Rappa fencing system after running 410 dry ewes on a dry-sown vetch and cereal mix in a cell grazing rotation. Right: Using the three-wire electric fence system – rolled out and wrapped up with the Rappa fencing unit mounted on an ATV, allowed excellent ground cover growth in the areas where grazing was excluded (right). Grazing efficiency was improved by up to 30 percent on Matt Curtis’ property.
silver, galvanised braid, that was hard to see, he would use a more easily visible, white rope. While paddocks sown last year were small and did not need managed grazing, this year Matt is planning to graze two 200ha paddocks. “I’ll split them each into two or three smaller paddocks and rotate-graze sheep through them. I’m looking to sow barley in one paddock and vetch in another. “I will have more grazing capacity by splitting them up and I’m hoping to run 2-2.5 ewes per hectare over spring, maybe more, with 800 ewes plus their lambs the target.” Depending on the season, the paddocks will be dry-sown if necessary in early to mid-April and ewes will go in about midJune. “I’ll spray-top the paddock after it has been grazed to remove grass weeds and use it as a break crop because of problems with ryegrass and brome grass. Then grazing will continue, instead of harvest.”
Last year, Rainbow farmer Corey Smith hosted the second demonstration. The aim of the trial was to establish cell grazing using the Rappa unit but Corey was interested to see whether electric fences would work on sheep since he had not used them before. Corey farms with his brother Nathan, cropping 2,900 hectares and running 900 Merino ewes, mated to White Suffolks for prime lambs. He dry-sowed a vetch and cereal mix – either wheat or barley – in a 120ha paddock which was then divided into three equal sections.
The first section started with about 250 dry ewes and Corey was expecting it to be eaten out in a week. But when it wasn’t, numbers were increased up to 410.
“It never shorted out but we kept an eye on the growth in case we had to mow another strip and move the fence over. “Before we started, I had zero knowledge, it was a very steep learning curve but I think the cell grazing really is an option. I could see it mostly over that spring period to control graze areas of vetch and we have some sand hill country where if we fence it off, we could control grazing on it.”
Corey says he normally would not run such a large mob but he wanted to eat the sections out quickly and was surprised by the number of sheep and length of time each area was able to sustain. “If I’d put the sheep in that 120ha paddock, they would have eaten in a ring around where the trough is, which is the only light spot in the paddock. They wouldn’t have touched at all,” he said. Corey says the biggest issue with cell grazing is water access. Ideally, troughs would be located either in the middle of the paddock or in the middle but along a fenceline, rather than at one end. He put in temporary water points for the trial. He recently bought a block of bare land and plans to fence new, long paddocks at 1.6 kilometres for cropping but will centrally locate water points for cell grazing. He says the other issue is that each section was sprayed out at three separate times, creating a bit more work for Nathan, who drives the spray unit. “The Rappa fencing system itself was easy to use, we didn’t have any issues rolling it out and it was easy to push in the tread-in posts,” he said. “We only set it up once but I imagine it would only take a couple of hours once you were used to it. We were a bit green in trying to understand it. Once you were set-up with points on the fenceline to tie to, then it wouldn’t be hard.”
Mallee Sustainable Farming(MSF), in collaboration with Birchip Cropping Group, (BCG) has led a project to find solutions to the problem as part of Grain and Graze 2, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
For more information
Matt Curtis, Mildura M: 0429 370 965 E: email@example.com Corey Smith, Rainbow M: 0429 954 224 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Moodie M: 0448 612 892 E: email@example.com
Catherine Marriott - Leadership retreat style workshops presenter.
Opportunity to lead change one conversation at a time
Sunraysia Rural Counselling Services is pleased to confirm that Catherine Marriott will deliver two retreat style workshops in the Mildura and Swan Hill regions in May 2014 for rural women. Catherine will also be a key speaker at the Diversify4Profit Expo at the Mildura Field Days. By
Jane Brook, Sunraysia Rural Counselling Services Inc. The two day intensive retreat program is designed to instil the confidence, knowledge and tools our local women need to start making change in their communities ‘one conversation at a time’. In 2012, Catherine was honoured with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Rural (RIRDC) Women’s Award for Western Australia, and was runner up to the national award. The 2012 RIRDC award was the catalyst to the formation of Influential Women and Catherine’s role as brand ambassador and consultant to Australian government and regulatory bodies. Described as a ‘dynamo’, Catherine is fearless in talking about the ‘difficult’ subjects in agriculture like the live export trade, the critical issues involving the future of food and water management and the role agriculture and effective land management will play in the future of Australia.
Building Resilient Rural Communities Patrick Timmons, Executive Officer of Sunraysia Rural Counselling Services, is delighted that Catherine is committed to visit the Murray-Mallee region, saying: ”Catherine’s focus on creating, strong, resilient and sustainable communities is a clear fit to our corporate vision of building resilient rural communities, we need to provide opportunities for our local people to be engaged with and hear from the change-makers in agriculture who consult for Australian Government and state and national regulatory bodies at the highest levels.” The May 2014 retreats are open to women who are land managers and farmers. With funding from the Australian Government and support from Sunraysia Rural Counselling Service Inc, the two day overnight retreats will be free to participants. The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is supporting this initiative by partnering with the Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium to provide funding for 15 Landcare group members to attend.
Registrations for the retreats will open on Monday 17 March 2014 via the Sunraysia Rural Counselling Service website: www.sunrcs.com.au and given the high level of interest are expected to fill quickly.
For more information
Call Jane Brook, Project Officer, Rural Support Program at Sunraysia Rural Counselling Services Inc. T: 03 5022 0799 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Events VNTFA Mallee Pre-Seeding Workshop Where: TBA When: Tuesday 18 March
MSF Loxton Grower Meet
Where: Loxton When: Wednesday 19 March Time: 1pm until 4.30pm
VNTFA Wimmera Pre-Seeding Workshop Where: TBA When: Friday 19 March
MSF Geranium Grower Meet
Drought support for farmers
The Australian Government supports farm families and farm businesses in managing and recovering from periods of hardship, including drought, and assists them in preparedness and future planning. On 26 February 2014 the Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, and the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, announced a package of measures offering financial, social and mental health support to farming families, farm businesses and rural communities suffering from drought. The Interim Farm Household Allowance (FHA) will help farm families with their daily living expenses and is available to eligible farmers Australia wide, without the need for a drought declaration. Like the Transitional Farm Family Payment, the Interim FHA will be paid at a fortnightly rate equivalent to Newstart Allowance. However, the interim payment will have a different asset test, so that more farmers, including those affected by drought, will be able to access income support when they need it. Payments under the Interim FHA commence from March 3rd 2014 for new
applicants and will be available until the permanent Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is implemented on July 1st 2014. A fact sheet can be downloaded from the following website: www.sunrcs.com.au Located at 139 Lime Avenue, Mildura and 194-208 Beveridge Street, Swan Hill, the Rural Financial Counselling Service is open until 9pm on Wednesday evenings until Easter.
For more information
Call Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria - Murray Mallee Mildura - 03 5022 0799 Swan Hill - 03 5032 2562
Where: Geranium When: Friday 21 March Time: 1pm until 4.30pm
BCG Grains Research Expo
Where: Birchip P-12 School When: Thursday 3 July
VNTFA Annual Conference
Where: Grains Innovation Park, Horsham When: Friday 11 July
BCG Main Field Day
Where: Birchip When: Wednesday 10 September
For more information Birchip Cropping Group (BCG)
For more details on BCG events please contact Justine Severin T: 03 5492 2787 E: email@example.com W: www.bcg.org.au
Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) For more details on MSF events please contact Richard Saunders M: 0419 853 089 T: 03 5021 9100 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.msfp.org.au
Victorian No-Till Farmers Association (VNTFA)
For more details on VNTFA events please contact Kerry Grigg T: 03 5382 0422 E: email@example.com W: www.vicnotill.com.au
Crop inoculation trial site.
Inoculation versus top dressing pulses with Nitrogen From a grower perspective, inoculating legumes during the haste and pressure of sowing is a job that most would avoid if they could. To determine whether inoculating legumes should be a priority, growers need to have a clear understanding of its true value. By
De-Anne Ferrier (BCG), Mark Peoples and Laura Watson (CSIRO) Previously a question was raised about topdressing legumes with nitrogen to enhance growth. While adding nitrogen (N) to a crop that fixes its own N would be expected to create nutrient use inefficiencies and cost money that could be better spent elsewhere, perhaps when inoculation failure occurred, this could be an option.
To evaluate the effect and profitability of inoculation and/or topdressing 23kg/ha nitrogen on chickpeas and field peas.
Location: Replicates: Sowing date: Sowing rate: Crop type/s: Inputs: Harvest:
Watchupga East 5 4 June 2013 95kg/ha PBA Striker chickpeas and PBA Twilight field peas Standard weed and insect control measures were used 9 December 2013
This trial was sown late to avoid a potential residual herbicide plant back issue. Prior to sowing, top soil (0-10cm)
samples were collected to ascertain baseline soil rhizobia. No seeding fertiliser was applied. As summarised in Table 1, (which also describes topdressing), field peas were inoculated with a peat based inoculant (Group E) and chickpeas with a peat based inoculant (Group N) on the morning of sowing. Early biomass cuts were collected on 7 August, prior to topdressing with 23kg/ ha nitrogen (50kg/ha urea). Immediately after topdressing 5mm of rain fell at the site. Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) measurements were collected on 28 August. Biomass cuts (peak biomass/early podding for field peas and mid flowering for chickpeas) occurred on 16 September. Table 1. Inoculation and nitrogen topdressing treatments. Field Peas
+/- group E inoculant
+/- 23kgN/ha topdressed
+/- group N inoculant
+/- 23kgN/ha topdressed
Results and Interpretation
Soil nitrogen Total available soil N (0-120cm) was relatively low at sowing (60kgN/ha). This level of soil nitrate would not be expected to have a great effect on legume nodulation or nitrogen fixation (Schwenke et al, 1998; Peoples et al, 2009).
Field Peas Though the last legume crop (failed vetch) was grown in the paddock in 2006 (seven years ago) high to medium populations of field pea rhizobia were measured in the soil prior to sowing (920 pea rhizobia per gram of soil). Under these conditions, peas would have been expected to nodulate well, provided the field pea rhizobia were effective. There was no significant difference between NDVI (leaf greenness and/ or ground cover), peak biomass (early podding) or grain yield in response to any of the inoculation or N fertiliser treatments.
Key Points • Topdressing pulses with nitrogen does not pay; inoculation does. Nitrogen topdressing of pulses resulted in little or no net growth or yield benefit; • Inoculating pulses is most effective if the soil is moist and if residual soil nitrogen and soil rhizobia populations are low; • The current study indicated that a return on investment of up to $60 can be achieved from the inoculation of chickpeas in the absence of soil rhizobia.
Mallee Farmer Chickpeas No resident chickpea rhizobia were detected and consequently an inoculation response was anticipated. Early July biomass cuts collected prior to nitrogen topdressing did not result in significant differences between chickpeas that were inoculated and those that were not. It is possible that the rhizobium benefits had not yet been translated into biomass. It can take approximately six to eight weeks for inoculation effects to become apparent. Significant treatment differences were observed between NDVI, early flowering biomass and yield. August NDVI and early flowering biomass results for both inoculation and top-dressed nitrogen treatments showed greater reflected leaf greenness and biomass than the zero nitrogen application, which was significantly less. As can be seen in Figure 1, all inoculated chickpeas yielded more than those that were not inoculated. When the chickpeas were inoculated, a single application of fertiliser N did not result in improved grain yield. A small yield benefit was observed with a topdressing of 23kgN/ha in the absence of inoculation. A $60/ha return on investment was achieved from the inoculation only treatment, but when nitrogen fertiliser was also applied, the return was reduced to $8/ha. In the absence of rhizobia, one single $25/ha topdressing of 23kgN/ha provided a small return of $4/ha.
Identifying baseline populations of rhizobia proved to be useful for assessing whether inoculation was necessary or not. Unfortunately, this service is not currently available commercially. If soil nitrate is too high, effective nodulation from native or inoculated rhizobia is unlikely. Knowledge of which rhizobia group nodulates each pulse type is important. Generally Group N, chickpea rhizobia is less prevalent in the soil than Group E rhizobia. When populations of soil rhizobia are low, excellent nodulation responses can occur with inoculation and returns on investment can be substantial. In this trial, inoculating chickpeas provided a $60/ha return on investment. This trial shows that when populations of soil rhizobia are medium to high, only small or zero return from inoculation will occur. In the absence of soil rhizobia, a single 25kgN/ha topdressing with nitrogen fertiliser provided only a small compensation for not inoculating legumes: in the presence of soil rhizobia, no benefit was realised. Peat inoculant is a low cost ($4.5/ha) input and can be considered cheap insurance, even given the stresses of sowing. Peat inoculant is more effective than granular inoculant where soil is
moist (Denton et al, 2009). But, if dry sowing, granular inoculant should be used. At 12 inch row spacing, this costs approximately $17.4/ha. Researchers suggest that pulse seed should be inoculated if the break between legume crops with a similar rhizobia group is four years or more.
Denton MD, Pearce DJ, Ballard RA, Hannah Murray C, Mutch LA, Norng S, Slattery JF. (2009) A mulit-site field evaluation of granular inoculants for legume nodulation. Soil Biology & Biochemistry: Volume 41: Issue 12: 25082516. Drew E, Herridge D, Ballard R, Oâ€™Hara G, Deaker R, Denton M, Yates R, Gemell G, Hartley E, Phillips L, Seymour N, Howieson J, and Ballard N (2012). Inoculating Legumes: A practical guide. GRDC. Peoples MB, Brockwell J, Herridge DF, Rochester IJ, Alves BJR, Urquiaga S, Boddey RM, Dakora FD, Bhattari S, Maskey SL, Sampet C, Rerkasem B, Khan CF, Hauggaard-Nielsen H, and Jensen ES (2009). The contributions of nitrogen-fixing crop legumes to the productivity of agricultural systems. Symbiosis 48: 1-17. Schwenke GD, Peoples MB, Turner GL, and Herridge DF (1998) Does nitrogen fixation of commercial, dryland chickpea and faba bean crops in north-west New South Wales maintain or enhance soil nitrogen? Australian journal of experimental Agriculture 38: 61-70. Unkovich MJ, Baldock J and Peoples MB (2010). Prospects and problems of simple linear models for estimating symbiotic N2 fixation by crop and pasture legumes, Plant and Soil 329:75-89.
2.00 1.80 1.60
0.60 0.40 0.20
1.20 Nitrogen 0kgN/ha
0.00 Minus innoc
Stats: P=0.008, LSD 0.16t/ha, CV 8.2% Figure 1. Chickpea yield comparisons for inoculation and nitrogen treatments
This trial was funded by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) through the crop sequencing project and BCG members through their membership. The assistance of Dr Matthew Denton and Liz Drew, South Australian Research Development Institute (SARDI) was greatly appreciated.
Southern species in the spotlight The Mallee is home to many native plants and animals. Some are unique to the region, but many are under threat and in need of protection. By
Elizabeth Gosling, Mallee CMA This article highlights threatened species and plant communities found in the southern Mallee, describing the threats impacting on them and what you can do to help. These species are all protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which provides a national framework for protecting Australiaâ€™s environment and threatened species.
The Regent Parrot is a fast flying, very nimble, medium-sized parrot. It is bright to smokey-yellow with a long, slender tail. Regent Parrots are commonly seen flying in company, with flocks typically comprising six to 12 individuals.
Regent Parrots mostly occur along the Murray River and in southern Wyperfeld National Park, with flocks also seen around Murrayville, Manangatang, Hopetoun and Birchip. It is estimated that there are less than 2,900 adult birds left in the Victorian Mallee. Regent Parrots nest in River Red Gums and feed in areas of mallee eucalypts. Reluctant to fly over open areas, the birds prefer continuous tree cover to use as flight paths to protect them from predators as they fly between feeding and nesting sites each day. Clearing and degradation of nesting and feeding habitat, and of the treed flight corridors linking the two, have severely reduced Regent Parrot numbers. The community can help protect the Regent Parrots by retaining and
enhancing native vegetation along waterways and surrounding areas, by controlling foxes and feral cats and by keeping a distance from nest trees during breeding season (August to December).
Buloke woodlands are characterised by the Buloke, a distinctive tree belonging to the She-oak family. Other trees in these woodlands include Slender Cypress-pine, Belah and Sugarwood, but Eucalypts are generally not present. After extensive clearing for agriculture, Buloke woodlands have a highly fragmented and degraded distribution in Victoria. The most pressing threat now is rabbit, kangaroo and stock grazing preventing over-storey trees from regenerating. This eventually turns Buloke woodlands into weed-dominated grasslands without trees. If you manage land containing Buloke woodlands you can help by removing stock from these areas and controlling rabbits; this will reduce grazing pressure and give woodlands the chance to regenerate.
Above: Plains Wanderer. Credit: Ben Thomas. Top right: Chariot Wheels. Credit: Karly Learmonth. Bottom right: Regent Parrot. Credit: Alex Holmes. Bottom left: Darling-pea. Credit: Terri Williams.
Controlling weeds and leaving logs and fallen timber on the ground will also help protect Buloke woodlands and improve habitat for native animals.
Grasslands species - Plains Wanderer, Chariot Wheels and Slender Darling-pea.
The Plains Wanderer is one of the Malleeâ€™s most elusive threatened species. It is a ground-dwelling native bird found in grasslands around Birchip. The Plains Wanderer is small (only 10cm tall) and looks similar to a quail. Unlike most bird species, female Plains Wanderers are larger and more colourful than males. After breeding females will leave a male to hatch and raise her clutch of eggs alone while she looks for a new partner. Also around the Birchip area, Chariot Wheels are a small perennial shrub found in native grasslands. Half of the north-west Victorian population can be found in Birchip. Chariot wheels belong to the saltbush family. They grow on seasonally wet, heavy red loam or clay soils and are restricted to areas that have only been moderately grazed and never cropped.
Another attractive grassland species is the Slender Darling-pea, a herb growing up to 30cm tall with purple-pink flowers. It grows on heavy clay soils, in open Black Box woodlands and grassland communities. After good rainfall the Slender Darling-pea has been known to carpet the landscape in purple.
southern Mallee to help protect and improve habitat for threatened species. Programs include revegetation, grants for Landcare groups, the Southern Mallee Habitat Tender and targeted incentives for private land managers. These programs are funded through the Australian government.
The replacement of native grasslands with crops has significantly reduced the extent of grassland species in the Mallee. Weeds and heavy stock grazing now threaten the native grasslands the remain, while foxes and cats are an additional threat to Plains Wanderers. Land managers can help protect grassland species by fencing off native grasslands on their property and managing stocking rates. Controlling weeds and pest animals in these areas and avoiding intensive grazing of the grasslands can help protect these species from further decline.
The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is working with farmers, community groups and public land managers in targeted areas in the
For more information
To find out more about the programs or threatened species in the Mallee, please call Elizabeth Gosling at the Mallee CMA on 03 5051 4365.
The Last Word
Fleabane is a relative newcomer in the Mallee and is presenting a real threat to productivity and the environment.
In recent “Mallee’s Most Wanted” sections we have taken the opportunity to highlight and talk about some of our regions’ more problematic weeds. This time Mallee’s Most Wanted takes a look at a relative newcomer on the local weed scene: Flaxleaf fleabane (Conyza bonariensis). This recent invader is an annual plant, native to North and Central America. It is now quite common in northern New South Wales, southern Queensland and parts of Western Australia, where it has severely infested cropping lands, roadsides and other non-agricultural areas. Flaxleaf fleabane grows up to one metre in height and has upright rigid multiplebranching stems. Leaves are grey-green, deeply indented, coarsely toothed and covered in fine hairs1. Fleabane has proven to be a difficult weed to manage as it produces masses of fluffy cream coloured seed heads. Mature healthy fleabane plants can produce up to 100,000 seeds, each complete with its own parasail like apparatus to aid distribution on the wind. Compounding this problem further, populations of fleabane have been confirmed as being resistant to
glyphosate herbicides2. A reduction in use of chlorsulfuron herbicide (such as Glean) due to problems associated with residual chemical crop damage may have also helped fleabane to get established3. In the Mallee the extremely wet summer of 2009/10 may have also assisted the spread of fleabane.
Like managing most other weeds an integrated approach is required to be successful in controlling fleabane. Control efforts centre on using a mixture of knockdown and residual herbicides when plants first emerge in winter and spring. Stopping plants before seed set is the main priority in long term control4. There are several on-line resources worth looking at in regards to managing fleabane, these build on the know-how of other states and regions that have had more experience with its control. (Management of flaxleaf fleabane) Steve Walker and Jeff Werth (DPI&F, Leslie Research Centre, Toowoomba) 3, 4 (Flaxleaf fleabane: a weed best management guide) Prepared by Steve Walker (The University of Queensland) with input from Michael Widderick, Andrew McLean and Jeff Werth in Toowoomba (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry); Tony Cook and Bill Davidson in Tamworth (NSW DPI); Lawrie Price in Toowoomba (Northern Growers Alliance). 1, 2,
Mallee Farmer Contact
Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone 03 5051 4377 Facsimile 03 5051 4379 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502
The Mallee Farmer relies heavily on the contributions received from the many individuals and organisations who support farming and the environment in the Mallee. Their support is greatly appreciated as it makes it posible to provide relevant up to date and interesting information to the broader Mallee farming community. The Mallee Farmer is produced by the Mallee CMA, in partnership with organisations across the region such as, the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF), Victorian No-Till Association, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 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 Catchment Management Authority T: 0417396973 E: firstname.lastname@example.org