Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - No-till
GROUND COVER NO-TILL 2 INTRODUCTION Ground Cover is brought to you by growers and the Australian Government through the publisher, the Grains Research and Development Corporation. Executive Editor: Ms Maureen Cribb, Publications Manager, GRDC; 02 6272 5525; PO Box 5367, Kingston ACT 2604 Managing Editor : Brad Collis, Coretext; 03 9670 1168; fax 03 9670 1127 © All material published in Ground Cover supplements is copyright protected and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the GRDC. Design and production : Tim Claeys, Creative Director, Coretext; www.coretext.com.au Advertising sales: Hyde Media; 03 9870 4161; fax 03 9870 4163 Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NAD 3994 INVESTING IN THE FUTURE OF NO-TILL: GRDC'S CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE INITIATIVE Rohan Rainbow Cover: Full stubble retention is a key element in conservation farming systems PHOTO BY BRAD COLLIS The CAAANZ members -- WANTFA, South Australian No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA), Central West Conservation Farming Association (CWCFA) and CSIRO -- have partnered in linked projects to address the recommendations of the Derpsch report. Within the new conservation agriculture initiative, the five R&D projects operating in the southern and western regions aim to resolve current issues in conservation farming systems. Outputs from these projects include: n putting in place a long-term trial (as a foundation for further work by a multidisciplinary team) to assess the long-term sustainability of the 'new' cover-crop-based no-till system; n developing practical cover-cropping systems for southern and western Australia for improved soil health, reduced wind and water erosion and improved weed-control options, with greater crop flexibility and ultimately increased crop yields; n developing a better understanding of the improved water infiltration and better soil water storage of these 'new' conservation farming options; n investigating non-chemical weed control methods such as cover cropping and knife-rolling techniques, as used in South America, as well as harvester seed catcher systems through precision mapping, as part of an integrated approach with established chemical weed-control methods; n improving understanding and performance of disc seeder technology in stubble residue and sticky soils, essential in cover cropping and knife-rolling systems; n developing a commercially viable, variable-rate, direct chemical-injection system, weed and crop scanning and application protocol in partnership with commercial manufacturers; n developing innovative approaches to use of incorporated- by-sowing (IBS) herbicides, such as band spraying between crop rows in conjunction with tine and disc seeder systems, and also broad-spectrum herbicide use with precision spraying techniques using two-centimetre auto-steer and shrouded spray systems; n producing a report on the attitudes to adoption of no-till farming practice in WA and SA; n producing a report on the impact of two-metre versus three- metre track width controlled-traffic farming on whole-farm profitability; n educating and updating growers on latest no-till developments through extension to growers, agronomists and researchers in WA, SA, NSW and Victoria; and n producing publications on advanced no-till farming and cover-cropping systems under the CAAANZ Essential Guide to No-Till Farming Series. Results from the new conservation agriculture initiative will be linked with other GRDC initiatives in agronomy, soils, crop protection and the environment. Growers will benefit greatly from the national collaborative approach to developing no-till farming, and further improvements will ensure the continued sustainability of the Australian grains industry. Dr Rohan Rainbow is project manager practices, GRDC Agronomy, Soils and Environment program. No-till farming is widely recognised for its benefits in improving soil quality, protecting soil from erosion, increasing the efficiency of farm labour and machinery, reducing costs and increasing farm profitability. The adoption of no-till continues to grow and it has become the dominant farm management system in many regions of Australia. Most leading farmers have already made the change to no-till. The GRDC has been committed for many years to the development of conservation agriculture technologies such as no-till farming. In 2005, a situation analysis of no-till in Western Australia was completed by Paraguay-based international no-till specialist Mr Rolf Derpsch. This analysis, initiated by the Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA), was supported by the GRDC's Visiting Fellows Program and the Australian Government's National Landcare Sustainable Industries Initiative. The results were communicated to growers across Australia and were discussed in detail by the partners of the Conservation Agriculture Alliance of Australia and New Zealand (CAAANZ) in consultation with the GRDC. The key recommendations of this report were that improved quality no-till systems should be based on: n full stubble retention; n zero-tillage systems using disc seeders; n diverse rotations using cover crops; and n a more holistic approach to weed management. There is also potential for greater levels of soil cover to increase water infiltration and decrease evaporation, which may lead to increased rates of water leakage and groundwater recharge. For some time the GRDC has invested significantly in conservation agriculture projects, supporting no-till organisations and grower groups in all cropping regions. National discussions on the future direction of conservation farming techniques such as no-till have led the GRDC to fund a new conservation agriculture initiative, which supports five projects across southern and western Australia.
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