WHILE outstanding crop yields on their property west of Mullewa last year resulted mainly from excellent rainfall, the Messina family believe their use of a mouldboard plough contributed to the above average harvest results.
Details of the family’s use of the tactical tool for weed management and lime incorporation are outlined in the latest edition of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) magazine Ground Cover.
The Messinas, who crop 12,000 hectares, first put the 14-board, 6.2 metre-wide Gregoire Besson mouldboard plough to work on April 18, 2011, across 120ha.
The aim was to test its performance for cleaning up weedy paddocks and incorporating lime to 300mm to improve the water-holding capacity of non-wetting soils.
A further 1340ha was ploughed in late May.
Andrew Messina said that wheat yields on deep-ripped country (not treated with the mouldboard) sown on May 17, 2011, averaged 2.6 to 3.6 tonnes per hectare, but where the mouldboard plough was used 20 days later yields were higher, averaging 3.6 to 4.1t/ha.
He said 2011 was ideal for trialling mouldboard ploughing due to the above average rainfall, which allowed them to achieve cleaner paddocks and increased production.
“Although we didn’t get it completely right the first time, it seems clear that on our soil type we are on a winner with mouldboard ploughing,” Mr Messina said.
The family plans to treat about 1000ha with the mouldboard plough every year until the whole farm has been ameliorated, although the actual area will depend on rainfall and available soil moisture.
The March/April edition of Ground Cover will be delivered to growers’ mailboxes in early March.
Some of the many other stories featured in the western edition of the magazine include a study into the carbon footprint of biodiesel; changing grower attitudes to crop residue in the high rainfall zone (HRZ); a recent noodle wheat workshop at the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA); and temperature inversion conditions which need to be considered as a factor in avoiding pesticide spray drift.
Growers can sign up for Ground Cover or download articles via the GRDC website at www.grdc.com.au/gr oundcover.