2016 Spring Field Day

Less than ideal weather didn’t deter the 80 intrepid souls who ventured out of doors to the SCF Spring Field Day on Thursday September 22.  Good company, enthusiastic presenters and topical field trials to view were on offer for the day, and we did manage to miss the worst of the weather!

Starting off from the Green Range Country Club, everyone piled on to the two buses and headed off to the first stops for the day – each bus visiting a separate trial and then swapping throughout the day, with everyone meeting up at Mal Thomson’s for a lovely burger and salad lunch supplied by the South Stirlings School P&F.

First stops for the day were at John and Christine Howard’s Drawbin Road property to view the SCF high quality feed wheat trial and a DAFWA trial looking at the effect of seed dressing and in-furrow fungicide against net-type Net Blotch of barley.  SCF R&D team, John Blake and Jake McGuire, outlined the aim of the feed wheat project, being to identify an economically optimum agronomic package that will lead to the viable production of high quality feed-wheat in the Southern HRZ of WA.  Key industry partners were involved in the development of the joint submission to GG R&D Grants Programme. These partners include CBH and DAFWA/Grains West with support from Farmanco. Research design protocols to test the new varieties centred on the need to satisfy both statistical requirements using an intensive, replicated small-plot design, and a larger more broad-scale approach perceived by growers to better reflect broad-scale cropping. The broad-scale sites were designed to be farmer-sown using their equipment, with two replicates of each variety sown in strips one seeder-width x 200m across a paddock. To test dual purpose suitability two trials had grazing treatments applied across half of the plot lengths. Naparoo, Trojan and Sundance performing best to date across all sites.

DAFWA researcher, Kith Jayasena, spoke on the treatments applied on the fungicide trial.  Last year, barley net-type net blotch came into prominence due to adoption of susceptible barley varieties such as Oxford. In 2015, it was detected at many locations. Some foliar fungicide applications to control the disease failed. In addition, the pathogen which was detected in the lower Great Southern developed resistance to the old triazole base fungicide products. The aim of the trial is to evaluate the efficacy of seed dressing and in-furrow fungicide against barley NTNB.  Due to the wet year and the trial suffering from some waterlogging, no differences between the treatments have been measured, however both treatments (seed dressing and in-furrow) are significantly better than the untreated plots for net type Net Blotch.

It was then off to Curwen’s property to look at a DAFWA/SCF/SCNRM trial investigating deep ripping of compacted deep sands.  This site on Curwen’s Bloxidge Road farm is part of a South Coast NRM grant to Stirlings to Coast Farmers, one of a few current deep ripping sites in southern WA. It is a demonstration site where a Heliripper worked to 35 or 70 cm depth over soils ranging from shallow sandy gravel to deep clayed sand. The site was ripped on 25 April and sown on 10 May with 100 kg/ha Granger barley. The paddock was spread with 1.5 t/ha Lancelin lime in February.  So far results have shown more visible differences between deep ripped and shallow or unripped runs with deep ripping leading to deep seed placement and poorer crop establishment but better vigour of plants. We also heard that ripping almost eliminated rhizoctonia patches while unripped plots showed more patches and general crop yellowing.  Always popular, a big soil pit was dug in part of the trial and DAFWA researcher, Jeremy Lemon, was able to show the effect of the deep ripping on the increased root penetration of ripped plots.

The last stop before lunch was the SCF Noodle wheat trial at Pieper’s.  Here we heard Dan Mullan from Intergrain speak about the wheat varieties included in the trial and their potential in the high rainfall zone to make noodle grade.  The SCF ‘paddock to plate’ value chain for SCF Noodle wheat project funded by Royalties for Region GG R&D program and supported by Intergrain was introduced by John Blake.  It has links with the only Noodle wheat breeding program in the world (outside of Japan). The development of a production package aims to deliver direct benefits to growers within the SCF region and the future exchange of results from the project have the potential for much larger gains through collaborations across the industry.  We then heard from Troy Adriansz from AEGIC on possible alternative uses for noodle wheat that doesn’t make the quality specifications for Udon noodles, which includes uses such as for cracker biscuits – which we all got to sample in the paddock!

It was then on to Mal Thomson’s where everyone was treated to a great lunch of beef burgers and salads kindly provided by the South Stirlings School P&F.  A New Holland CR10.90 Harvester with inbuilt seed destructor was on display at the lunch stop courtesy of McIntosh and Son and drew many to crawl all over it checking it out!  A presentation from Hamish Alleron of Rabo Bank on Market Outlooks for the coming few months completed the lunch stop.

Everyone climbed back on the buses to head to the next stops on Mal’s property – an SCF MLA funded trial looking at evaluating summer sowing of serradella pod compared to autumn direct seeding of bare seed pasture mixes and a CSBP/Bayer fungicide and nutrition trial.  In the pasture trial the summer sown serradella pod looked good early with great establishment and good early biomass production, but the wet winter with waterlogged paddocks have allowed the pasture mix to really shine – the mix used by Mal is Saia oats, Monti sub clover and Cadiz and Erica serradella.

CSBP and Bayer next showed their fungicide and nutrition trial.  The aim of this trial was to investigate response to Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), effects on leaf disease and interactions with a foliar fungicide (Prosaro) from Bayer CropScience.  Healthy crops cope better with disease pressures, and adequate nutrition is fundamental to a healthy crop. Deficiencies of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are relatively common and deficient crops often show more disease. This trial aims to determine the individual effects of applying N, K and Prosaro on leaf disease, and the benefits of applying all three together.  Again waterlogging has had a significant impact on the trial, however nitrogen appears to be more limiting that potassium, and plots not treated with Prosaro are showing severe barley leaf rust.

It was then on to the last stops for the day at Scott Smith’s (SCF Chairman) South Stirlings farm.  Here we viewed wheat and barley NVT trials, always popular with many!  We were also treated to the unveiling of SCF’s new snail roller, brought over from SA in the hopes that it will be a useful tool in reducing the impact of snails in grain contamination.  DAFWA researcher Svet Micic spoke on some methods for the control of snails and the results of some of the trials that have been conducted on the use of windrow burning and the preliminary baiting trials that are part of a SCF project.  There was much interest at this stop due to the increasing impact that snails, especially small conical snails, are beginning to have on many of our member’s farms.

After a long day it was great to have so many stay on at the Green Range Country Club to enjoy a few drinks, a great steak and salad dinner prepared to perfection by the Country Club committee and to listen to the entertaining bush poetry of Peter Blyth.  Below are some photos of the Day:

Nicola Edwards