Grant boost for No-Till group

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

The WA No-Till Farming Association (WANTFA) is working to take the risk out of dry sowing after becoming the successful recipient of Rural Industries Research Development Corporation funding.

The $250,000 grant will be used over the next 18 months in what will be the first on the ground investigation into the effectiveness of dry sowing.

WANTFA executive officer David Minkey said that while farmers have been dry sowing for some time, there were still difficulties faced by growers.

“A lot of farmers want to keep their stubble and they’re all tending now to dry seed rather than waiting for the rainfall to come, but with that comes huge problems with weed management, ” he said.

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“They can’t control their weeds particularly well, there are no knockdown herbicides and the pre-emergent herbicides don’t work that well with stubble retention, so this project was aimed at overcoming these issues.”

In the face of climate change, Dr Minkey said it was becoming increasingly important to maximise water efficiency.

“I saw paddocks side-by-side where one dry-sowed and one not and one crop was dead and the other yielded a tonne — it was that dramatic last year.

“It’s about managing the seasons and maximising the water use.”

The research will combine aspects of integrated weed management control and herbicide resistance, as well as investigate some of the new pre-emergent herbicides.

Along with the CSIRO and the University of WA and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, WANTFA will work with grower groups to run trials across the State.

WANTFA is also in discussions with Grains Research and Development Corporation and CSIRO regarding long-term projects.

“This project is purely about weeds, but it has another agronomic component: what crop species or varieties will perform better under dry seeding and what crop rotations will perform better, ” Dr Minkey said.

“We think it’s just the start of the direction we’re going to be heading.”

“WANTFA really wants to get stuck into looking at dry seeding and stubble retention as a major research theme. (But) this first year is just to get some packages out to farmers.”

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