2017 CWFS Spring Field Days Overview

Central West Farming Systems hosted five spring field days during September and October 2017; Mumbil Creek, Tottenham (with the Tottenham Top Woodlands Agricultural Bureau), LIRAC (with CSIRO), Northparkes Mine and Gunning Gap. Dr Neil Fettell also attended the AgGrow Agronomy and Research’s Rankins Springs field day in September, explaining the CWFS stubble management and nutrient trials there.

Crops varied around the region with frosts and dry conditions impacting both trial sites and surrounding commercial crops but a surprising number of both canola and wheat crops were showing good potential towards the end of October – particularly in the eastern portion of the region at Gunning Gap and Northparkes Mine. Subsoil moisture from the 2016 season allowed badly frosted crops to recover substantially after the frosts had ended, raising the question of whether some crops (particularly in the eastern regions) that had been cut for hay should have been left to recover.

The benefits of stubble retention were highlighted by the presence of mud under a clump of straw at Mumbil Creek in otherwise dry conditions and there was much discussion on managing high stubble loads such as those experienced in 2016. As some growers had burned stubble this year to enable sowing it was noted that unlike previous years in CWFS stubble trials and commercial crops, this year the burnt paddocks suffered yield loss because of the dry conditions experienced throughout winter and spring.

As the stubble project draws to a close after five years of trials it was certainly recognized that the variety of seasons the trials had experienced during this time had offered valuable insights into stubble management and provided growers with a better understanding of management tools they can call on and the potential ramifications of their decisions.

Speakers who attended the field days were well received and included Helen McMillan and Dr Neil Fettell (CWFS) on the GRDC stubble project trial and plant breeding trials; Adrian Roles (JMAJ) on the importance and future of farm data; Melissa Trengove (NuFarm) on chemical mixing problems and solutions; Steve Collins (GrainCorp) on grain marketing this season; Lexi Cesnik (Moses & Son) on precision sheep management, Richard madden (Pacific Seeds on managing crop flowering times through variety choices and Jess Pagan and Chris Haggerty (Rabobank) on maximising farm profit.

Other guest speakers were CSIRO’s Dr Cathrine Ingvordsen who explained some of the CSIRO plant breeding trials at LIRAC and James Whitely (AGT), Don McAffery (NSW DPI) and Ross Beasley (GenTech Seeds) who along with Richard Madden went through the many new varieties on offer at the wheat and canola NVT (National Variety Trial) sites at Northparkes Mine.

Peter Yelland of PY Ag also spoke at Northparkes Mine on the difficult 2017 season and lessons learned and some of the issues (such as nutrient management) we could expect to see in 2018.

The days were not only to inspect and explain the CWFS trials sites but to provide as much relevant knowledge as possible on a variety of topics to attendees, including show bags full of CWFS sponsor’s goodies as well as three components (books) of the eleven component GRDC funded project ‘Maintaining Profitable Farming Systems With Retained Stubble In Central West NSW’, a paper by Helen McMillan on CWFS soil acidity and lime trials and another paper by Helen on the 2016 trial harvest results.

Again, as well as inspecting CWFS trials a number of member’s crops of interest were viewed including Hyola and several Pacific Seed side by side trials at Tottenham, as well as a GOA nutrient trial site focusing on varying application times and rates of N.

At Gunning Gap a canola crop that had bounced back from frost damage was inspected as well the new wheat variety ‘Reliant’ and two grazing wheats, ‘Wedgetail’ and Kittyhawk’ in a side by side comparison.

The weather proved kind for all days with cooler than average conditions (and less flies!) which allowed for Mitch and Nashy – the CWFS super chefs – to turn out some delicious feeds of bacon and egg rolls and steak or sausage sandwiches, as well as plenty of cold drinks throughout the days.

The extended ‘meet and greet’ breakfast and coffee along with a relaxed lunch and after event chat allowed plenty of one on one conversations between attendees, industry representatives and speakers which benefited all, as well as providing a balance of social interaction and learning to growers attending the days. Stacey Jarvis’s famous morning tea was also welcomed at Tottenham!

CWFS would like to thank the sponsors, speakers and attendees that made the 2017 spring field days such a resounding success.