Seeding over at Narembeen

Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

The Sprigg family of Narembeen plan to wrap up their seeding program today, including around 1800ha of field peas and lupins that they will not harvest.

Gary Sprigg, who farms with brother Trevor and Trevor's son Ryan, said apart from harvesting a small amount for seed, the 1800ha legume crop would be chemically fallowed in August or September.

Aiming to achieve nitrogen and weed control benefits, this land will form part of a four-year rotation that involves planting canola next year, followed by two subsequent years of wheat.

"We have been doing this chemical fallow in a small way each year for the last five years. Sometimes it is difficult to do as it means foregoing quite a bit of income by taking that land out of production," Mr Sprigg said.

"But the idea is it makes the land more productive in subsequent years, because it is clean of weeds and rich in nitrogen.

"So our aim is to do this chemical fallow on a quarter of our program, by planting field peas or lupins, depending on the soil type.

"This year we have managed to achieve that amount."

Mr Sprigg said every year the family started their seeding program in early April, irrespective of the rain.

"We don't like to bank on rain," Mr Sprigg said.

"Our plan is to start dry seeding at a set time, and if we do get rain, it's a bonus."

They were fortunate to receive early rains this year at the start of April.

Although the Spriggs normally start seeding by planting legumes for chemical fallow, this year they switched that around to take advantage of early rains of between 50 and 70mm in late March and early April, by planting 1400ha of Bonito canola.

Mr Sprigg said the canola was now well advanced but was patchy in places due to the six-week dry spell that followed the early rains.

"We received rain two weekends ago - some of our farms received 8mm and others received up to 20mm," he said.

"We have lost some of the canola plants unfortunately, but this rain was very helpful and arrived just in the nick of time for most of the crop.

"However, we desperately need more to help get the canola ticking along.

"I am less concerned about the wheat and barley, as it is still quite early days."

Ryan Sprigg said although he had grown genetically modified canola in the past, he would wait until better varieties became available before growing these again.

He said they were challenged by the late emergence of ryegrass and the inability to spray GM canola with Roundup after the six-leaf stage.

Also included in the Spriggs' cropping program is 1500ha of Scope and Hindmarsh barley and 3000ha of Mace wheat, the latter of which will be finished today.

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