Cropping sequence on agenda at Wongan Hills field walk

29 Oct, 2012 02:16 PM
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Natham Turner, Wongan Hills, Bob French, Department of Agriculture and Food Merredin and Clare Johnston, Liebe Group R&D Coordinator, look over wheat produced in a plot that has had a fallow-lupins-wheat-wheat sequence since 2009.
Natham Turner, Wongan Hills, Bob French, Department of Agriculture and Food Merredin and Clare Johnston, Liebe Group R&D Coordinator, look over wheat produced in a plot that has had a fallow-lupins-wheat-wheat sequence since 2009.

THE recent Liebe Group field walk at the Wongan Hills Research Station (WHRS) attracted more than 50 growers and agribusiness representatives to find out about the latest crop research.

Department of Agriculture and Food northern regional director Mike Bowley said highlights of the day included the number of local growers and agribusiness people attending the joint Liebe Group and department event, and research comparing sequence effects on cropping system productivity.

“Department researcher Bob French outlined the work, where 100 unique sequences have been measured over a four year period,” Mr Bowley said.

“The ultimate objective has been to determine what factors influence the performance of different crops; how these were affected by cropping history; and how we could use this information to design ecologically and economically robust options for crop sequences.”

Mr French said the trial had highlighted some significant effects on wheat yield responses, particularly to fallow, lupins and soil inversion by mouldboard ploughing.

He said crop sequence effects were complex and could be profoundly affected by, among other things, the season, weed status, soil nutrient levels and soil type.

“Growers were particularly interested in fourth year results highlighting that differences in weed populations set up in the first years of the trial have been retained through two years of continuous wheat,” Mr French said.

“This emphasises how important the evolution of weed populations is in the long term performance of crop sequences.

“There will be continuing work incorporating our results into various decision tools for growers through department collaboration with Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), CSIRO and others.”

The day also included discussions on the results of liming and herbicide control on wild radish and annual ryegrass and the interaction between soil pH and rotation on response to applied phosphorus, along with mouldboarding, National Variety Trials, time of sowing and wheat cultivar competition with weeds.

Liebe Group formally extended their membership footprint into the Wongan Hills area in 2009 and the work at the WHRS is a collaboration between Liebe Group and the department, aimed to provide locally relevant research to growers.

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