Geoff McCallum, Parkes NSW: Harvest management of stubble


Property owner: Geoff McCallum

Enterprises: 4000 ha cropping on controlled traffic system; 1000 ha legumes for brown manuring, 1000 ha canola, 2000 ha wheat and barley.

Harvest stubble management: Geoff farms dryland country in the Parkes and Forbes districts. At harvest he always cuts the stubble to around 25 cm or less to facilitate easy passage through his sowing equipment. He used Kirby spreaders for many years for the excellent job they did in evenly distributing chaff behind the headers, but finds today’s newer headers aren’t as efficient and need modifying.

Although the cost of harvest is increased by up to 20% by asking his contractor to harvest as low as possible Geoff feels it’s worth it in setting up the paddocks for the following season.

Prior to the 2015 season Geoff burnt some stubble as it was over 5t/ha of stubble load which would prove detrimental to this year’s crop. John Small with CWFS has just written a paper on optimal stubble loads for the central western area. If you would like to read a short and sweet summary of the paper feel free to follow the link.

Good stubble bad stubble

Paddock mapping: Paddock/yield mapping is supplied by Geoff’s contractors.

Weeds & disease: Geoff sometimes cuts as low as possible if rye grass is present. He is diligent to prevent establishment of bindweed in the stubble as it can cause blockages at sowing.

Relationship with harvest contractors: Geoff uses the same contractors and has a good relationship with them. They fit in with his controlled farming system and are happy to cut the stubble to a height that suits.

They are very careful with bio security and Geoff has never had any introduction of new weeds from the headers. Because the contractor does all contract farming on the property it is in his best interest to maintain best practice.