Growing crops on beach sand

27 Oct, 2004 10:00 PM
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WA¹S latest Nuffield Scholar, Esperance farmer David Cox, is planning a six-week study tour next year to evaluate nitrogen, disease and stubble management in high-yielding crops.

David, who has been farming for 12 years, helps in the management of a family farming business on a 4800ha (12,000ac) property, half of which is cropped with the remainder earmarked for beef and hay production.

According to David, his challenge at Esperance is to grow crops on beach sand.

³One of the largest single inputs needed is nitrogen and I want to look at how to use it more efficiently,² he said.

³We also live with diseases and it seems to be getting worse.

³Five years ago we would only use a single seed treatment but this year, apart from the seed treatment, we had the boom out three times for foliar spraying.

³I think there¹s a pattern emerging here.²

With stubble management, David said handling 5-7t/ha stubble had become a nightmare.

Stubble was an integral component of a cropping system on the wind erosion-prone Esperance soils, hence the interest in seeking better ways to manage it.

³I also want to look at the nutrient tie-up and the possibility of using microbial activity to solve some of the problems,² he said.

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