Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - No-till
GROUND COVER NO-TILL 10 NO-TILL TODAY development of some of the new pasture legumes as cover crops. This will build on preliminary screening trials by WANTFA that identified promising material, as well as work by the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, and Murdoch University. “Scientists from these organisations have developed some excellent pasture material that suits WA and which could be used for low-cost cover crops,” Dr Flower says. “The hard-seeded characteristics of species like serradella, biserrula and Prima gland and Eastern Star clovers – and the recent, concurrent development of inoculant granules with an inoculant that can survive in dry soil – provide a tremendous opportunity for cover crops. “Hard-seed species, along with their inoculant, can be under-sown when a cereal crop is being planted, with the cover crop establishing itself the following year. The creation of a sufficiently large seed bank in the first year or two will mean the cover crop can re-establish itself every few years after cropping, and provide another nitrogen boost to the soil, at virtually no cost.” Dr Flower says there are other issues of interest in the use of oilseeds as cover crops with potential for bio- fumigation of soil and production of oil for biodiesel. GRDC Research Code WAN00013 More information: Dr Ken Flower, 08 9622 5584, firstname.lastname@example.org The Derpsch report is downloadable from the WANTFA website, www.wantfa.com.au CENTRAL WEST NSW JOINS THE PUSH Cover cropping is also on the agenda in New South Wales, where the Wellington-based Central West Conservation Farming Association (CWCFA) will join the GRDC's campaign to improve no-tillage systems across Australia. Under the GRDC project 'Cover crop and stubble management systems for central and southern NSW', the 400-member CWCFA will look for answers to no-tillage problems in its region, working with collaborating growers and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The association's chief executive officer, Neville Gould, says the major concerns of no-tillage growers in the NSW Central West are too little -- or too much -- soil cover, mounting weed intrusion and herbicide resistance, the need to increase crop water-use to stop deep drainage, and general efficiency in the cropping system. The project will have two major components: n cover cropping to increase soil cover, reduce herbicide use and increase water-use; and n stubble management, by mechanical or biological methods or crop rotation. "The level of surface residue left after crops in the existing no-tillage system -- particularly in the western part of NSW but also on paddocks with active soil biota -- is often inadequate to provide enough soil protection or weed suppression," Mr Gould says. "In such situations, using cover crops to provide soil cover could prove invaluable, particularly during the summer months. "But on the other hand, no-tillage growers in the eastern and southern parts of central NSW, where yields and stubble production are typically higher, often consider the level of cover left by crops under existing no-tillage systems is excessive." Mr Gould says the same situation occurs on paddocks with poor soil health and with little summer rainfall to aid residue breakdown. Stubble is burnt, baled or incorporated to allow sowing machinery a clear passage. While association members are looking to a number of positive results from cover cropping in the NSW Central West, a priority is reduced reliance on herbicides. They are an essential component of no-tillage farming systems but CWCFA members would like to use them less. Experience in South America -- where there is cover- cropped farmland that has not needed herbicides for three years -- has shown what the system can achieve, and already two of the CWCFA's collaborating growers have used cover cropping to control weeds without herbicides in small trials over the past summer. "We will hold a series of field days, starting in January next year, to display and report on the progress of our cover crop screening and stubble management trials," Mr Gould says. "And all through the three years of the project we will have strong links with similar GRDC research being conducted by the South Australian and Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Associations and by CSIRO." GRDC Research Code CWC00003 More information: Neville Gould, 02 6845 1044, email@example.com CWCFA executive member and Nyngan grower Haydon Wass has made a breakthrough by showing that cover cropping may restrict the growth of eucalypt regrowth -- a major problem in western NSW -- as well as weeds. The foreground of the photo shows regrowth in cereal stubble without cover cropping and the cover-cropped area at the rear, free of weeds and regrowth free.
GC Supplement - Grains nutrition
GC Supplement - Growers sharing knowledge