GRDC Stubble Initiative

Trial Background:

“Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubble in the Central West of NSW” or Rain Grain and Stubble, for short, is a 5yr project involving all of the 11 Regional Trial Sites in the CWFS region and is one of 10 Local GRDC Development &Extension (D&E) projects operating as part of an initiative across the GRDC Southern Region.  Skills, information and ideas will be shared with other CWFS projects to promote innovation and synergies in D&E activities.

Rain Grain & Stubble will combine the results of previous research projects and the experience of CWFS, our project partners and local farmers to address the various on farm management issues that are experienced within a retained stubble cropping system. The project outcomes will be extended to landholders and advisors to assist them to maintain and improve the profitability and sustainability of their operations.  A new aspect of this project is the establishment of on farm case studies to address issues of what farmers are actually experiencing in their retained stubble cropping systems, identifying and recording what they are trialling to address the problem and offering the services of CWFS to value add to their project.

Methods of extending information from project outcomes will include the traditional field days, news letters, and email updates, and at the conclusion of the project a series of Best Practise Guidelines for CWFS districts will be produced recording the project outcomes.  However, for this project new methods of information dissemination will also be established; a member’s only section will be created on the CWFS web site and updated regularly to inform members of current events in their region, and a “text tree” network will be established to pass on relevant information, invitations to events and alerts on observed issues.  For example in one part of a region mouse numbers could be viewed to be increasing. Consequently this may impact upon other farms.  Via the “text tree” network a warning can be quickly sent and others can be advised to take action to minimise any impact and reduce the likely hood of a potential outbreak.

On farm activities:

Within stubble retained cropping systems a variety of management decisions exist.  For example, a farmer may decide to burn his existing stubble due to; high stubble loading – impacting upon harvesting machinery, or occurrence of fungal disease.  High densities of weeds may cause a farmer to make the decision to plough in his stubble or entering into a fallow period the farmer may decide to retain his stubble to facilitate the capture and retention of water, and apply herbicide to remove the weeds.  These management decisions are often based upon economic factors or individual circumstance and have the ability to impact upon future crop establishment, associated growth characteristics and harvest output.

This project will identify how canola, oats, wheat and barley will react to being sowed in to stubble that has been; a) retained b), incorporated c), burnt or grazed.  Other management decisions made over the season in response to local circumstance will be assessed and used to identify the impact(s). For example a lack of rain, risk of crop failure and a strong livestock market may cause a farmer to use his cereal crop as stock feed.   Consequently this will be reflected in the analysis of the crops within the different stubble treatments should this occur.  Although not specifically a variety trial, different varieties of the cereal crops have been incorporated into the trial design to address further locally specific queries (See Diagram 1. Cereal Trial plan: for a list of varieties sown).

In 2013, 6 Regional trial sites: Euabalong, Wirrinya, Weethalle, Rankin Springs, Tullamore and Tottenham had the various stubble treatments applied to the cereal crop trials. In 2014 the trial site will be returned to commercial application and the impacts of the 2013 stubble treatments upon the 2014 crop monitored.  The Canola trial is restricted to the Wirrinya, Rankin Springs, and Tullamore regional sites (Diagram 2. Canola Trial Plan). This trial is commercially focussed, meaning that the different forms of stubble treatments were applied to the previous year’s stubble prior to the farmer sowing his own commercial Canola crop. The variety in the trial area is as per the rest of the crop. The trial site will be treated the same as the rest of the Canola crop, monitored for differences in growth and associated output and used for analysis and reporting.

Please visit the Members only section (Home > Members only) for an up to date listing of what is occurring at the regional sites.

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