Olympic trials for seeders

Countryman

While the world is gearing up for the Olympic Games in Rio, another “Olympic” event has just finished closer to home.

The Canola Seeding Olympics, held at Yuna’s Community Farm last week, attracted more than 60 attendees.

The large-scale trial used farmer seeding machinery to test the effect of different seeding equipment and sowing depths on canola establishment rates.

The trial aims to determine whether seeding depth is more important or whether the type of bar used has the bigger impact on establishment and ultimately yield.

The trial consisted of the following three grower bars: a John Deere 1830 bar with 15inch tine spacings, a DBS bar 12inch tine spacings with single chute, and a modified DBS bar 12inch tine spacings with splitters and wide press wheel.

McIntosh and Son brought its demo Morris Contour 2, 40ft bar, with 12inch spacing, double shoot with a Morris 9365 Aircart.

Growers got to see firsthand these four bars being put through their paces, planting Pioneer’s 43Y23 canola seed at depths of 1cm, 3cm and 5cm at a seeding rate of 1.8kg a hectare with 70kg/ha of Agstar from CSBP.

Trial manager Belinda Eastough explained one of the biggest risks of growing canola was not achieving high enough plant numbers when sowing into marginal soil moisture.

“In 2015, Yuna received significant summer rains, so sowing canola deeper to chase moisture was an option,” she said.

“However, growers were faced with the dilemma of how to effectively establish canola where there was good soil moisture at depth but rapidly drying top soil at time of sowing.”

After the Yuna Farm Improvement Group Establishment Field Walk held in June last year, it was evident that growers were experiencing problems with canola establishment.

Meanwhile, there was no local research data on which growers could confidently make the decision to sow canola deeper than the traditional 1 to 3 cm.

YFIG chairman Brady Green said growers decided a solution needed to be found as canola break crops were an important tool for integrated disease and weed management as well as having rotational benefits.

Project manager Jenny Thomas said an application for funding was successfully submitted to the Council of Grain Growers Organisation, which supports grower driven research.

There were no formal rules in place for the Olympics, though certain guidelines were followed.

These included a farm-scale trial using grower seeding machinery, selected seeding bars had to be a common brand used throughout the northern agricultural region, and the trial site had to be sown by all four seeding bars at the same time, in exactly the same conditions.

Growers also had to set their seeding bars up to optimally sow the canola seed at 1, 3 and 5cm, tractor speed during sowing was 8km and one canola seed variety from a single supplier had to be used.

The spraying regime and fertiliser application rates had to be exactly the same across the trial site and consistent with normal farmer practice.

The next step for the project is the plant counts, which will be undertaken in the middle of June and will be a key measurement tool within the trial.

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