Residue leaves Rhys high and dry

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Last year might have been a bumper crop but it's still causing a few headaches for Ogilvie farmer Rhys Carson.

The biological farmer is not complaining about last year's near perfect season but 3.5-tonne average crops have left him and father Allan with a lot of stubble.

The duo pulled the airseeder out of the shed last week only to discover it simply couldn't cope with the residue.

"We've now had to go and burn a lot of paddocks that we didn't anticipate burning - it's something we don't like doing but if we can't get the airseeder through we can't put the crop in," Rhys said.

It is not normal practice on the Carsons' biological farm but a dry summer did not encourage microbial activity and the family's 1000 ewes simply could not eat enough stubble.

"We actually sprayed out some microbes to try to break down the stubbles and we spread sulphate of ammonia as well but with the lack of summer rainfall it just hasn't worked this year," Rhys said.

Unlike last year, when the northern agricultural region had plenty of subsoil moisture, it's been a dry summer around Ogilvie.

Rhys said although they would prefer to seed into moisture, it looked more likely they would simply begin their program dry on Anzac Day.

"The long-range forecast says there is nothing for the next two weeks, so there is no great rush," he said.

"We will put microbes on our seed as a seed dressing, we did some compost tea last year and we'll probably do the same this year.

"We put humates with our fertiliser as well as a buffer for the acidity of compound fertilisers."

Rhys and six other farmers are importing the humates directly from China.

"We are not using a high amount of phosphorus fertiliser, we increase the efficiency by using these humates as well," Rhys said.

If the family crops their lease block again this year, Rhys said they would bump up their canola program to capitalise on strong prices.

"We're taking about 50 per cent of our lupins out of the rotation and that has added to the canola," he said.

"Last year we had in 750 hectares of canola and this season we anticipate we will be putting in close to 1000ha."

Fast facts *

Who: Rhys and Allan Carson

Where: Ogilvie

What: 3000ha of wheat, 200ha of barley, 250ha of lupins, 1000ha of canola, 30ha of oats for hay and 1000 ewes

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