Landcare vital part of program

Kate MatthewsCountryman

This year’s crops at Longview are taking shape, with the lupins starting to flower and the canola starting to bolt.

Each year, the Harris family — Murray, Hilary and Tim — plant a full suite of cereals and legumes as part of the program at their farm, 40km east of Katanning.

An equally important part of their annual farm plan is Landcare.

When the farm was originally cleared, little standing vegetation was left besides the Badgebup Nature Reserve next door.

The farm is on flat and exposed country, with pockets of deep sand and areas of heavy clay susceptible to salinity and waterlogging.

The family has planted thousands of trees, sown perennials, fenced off problem areas and constructed W-drains. Their actions have allowed them to reclaim unproductive land to grow crops.

Four years ago, they planted alleys with a mixture of salt-tolerant trees on a salt-affected paddock. A 125 foot gap was left between each row and these areas have been continuously cropped since the trees were planted.

As a result of his involvement in Landcare, Tim, took out the Young Landcare Leader Award at the State Landcare Awards, presented in Perth last week.

The Landcare work is all part of ensuring long-term sustainability and, weather permitting, bumper yields on the farm.

This year, hard wheat varieties Carnamah and Yitpi were sown over 850 hectares. For barley, malt variety Buloke was sown over 145ha and some Barque feed barley was sown on flats for sheep feed.

Triazine-tolerant canola varieties Tanami (early maturing) and Bravo (early to mid maturing) make up 260ha of this year’s program.

A total of 40ha of Toodyay oats were sown to cut for hay as sheep feed and a further 70ha for grain feed, as well as 125ha of Myallie lupins, a vital part of the cropping rotation.

Another important crop is new pea variety Gunyah, sown to bulk up for seed for next year’s program. Last year in Department of Agriculture and Food trials, Gunyah out-yielded Kaspa by as much as 20 per cent.

Across all crops, seed was sown between 20mm and 25mm except canola, which was sown at a depth of 15–20mm.

Seeding rates on the property, which is flat with pockets of deep sand and heavy clays susceptible to salinity and waterlogging, range from 80kg/ha for wheat and peas to 100kg/ha for lupins, 70kg/ha for oats and 63kg/ha for barley. Canola was sown at a rate of 4kg/ha.

New to this year’s program was the use of Thrive, a Superfert-based fertiliser with more phosphorous.

“We’re just giving it a go this year, because it was close to the same price as MAP but you can put a bit less down the tube and get a few more hectares out of the tank, ” Tim said.

“We also use Flexi-N. It’s deep banded under seed and fertiliser and goes down at 50/ha over everything.

“We go back with the top up using the boomspray with another 25–50l, depending on the crop and season.”

Seeding took four weeks starting May 23 with lupins.

The family used their new 40-foot Morris Maxium III air drill bar with a tow behind Morris 7130 bin, which was carried over from the old rig for monetary reasons.

The bin was pulled by a 9250 articulated Case 4WD tractor.

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