Case study: Wayne Jarvis, Tottenham NSW – management of fallow (stubble) in a stubble retained system.
Property: 2400 ha between Condobolin and Tottenham.
Enterprises: 1200 ha cropping and a self-replacing merino flock. Mainly cropping cereals but moving into break crops. Direct drill operation on one property while more traditional mixed farming on another property.
Soil type and pH: Black belah to red loam with an average pH of 6.4
The Jarvis’s have been farming with a no-till system (though the system varies and tillage is still used when necessary) for seven years.
They’ve noticed an increase in yields on no-till country where sheep have been removed from the system as well as an improvement in soil health.
However they also see a reduction in chemical costs and spraying applications on the mixed farming property, as well as sheep income providing more risk management.
Wayne sees benefits to both systems.
Post-harvest management and weed control:
On the mixed farming area sheep are used to graze stubble as part of the weed management strategy. Wayne finds that they use less chemical because of it and find it easier to control fleabane, milk thistle and windmill grass. However stubble retention is sacrificed if need be for increased grazing opportunities.
On the no-till country they rely on chemical control of weeds while maintaining a higher level of stubble retention. However this season because of the heavy stubble load they are looking at offset ploughing some paddocks for improved weed control and less trash at sowing.
They at times also cool burn heavy stubble loads just prior to sowing to prevent their sowing plant from blocking.
It’s noticeable to Wayne that the country they direct drill without grazing is much softer and more friable than the mixed farmed areas.