Plenty of interest in field walks

29 Jul, 1999 02:12 AM
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MORE than 80 canola growers recently participated in Agriculture WA's canola field walks at Katanning and Darkan, demonstrating the high level of interest in the popular crop. The principal aim of the field walks was to update growers with the latest information on canola production and markets in the Great Southern region. Katanning was recently in the canola spotlight, with local growers Linley and Wally Filmer winning the National Canola Competition. Speaking at the event, Mr Filmer said he was impressed at the innovation shown by Katanning growers. "The growers are eager to adopt new techniques, and field walks such as this are not just for sharing ideas, but to see how these new ideas are being put into practice," he said. The field walks are organised by Agriculture WA canola development officer Andrew Simon and the Grain Pool's Katanning-based southern regional officer, Linda Price. Mr Simon said there were two options discussed to increase the profitability of canola < reducing the inputs or increasing the output, or both. He said seedbed preparation was crucial for a successful canola crop. Using an alternative tool for seedbed preparation, Bokal farmers Bill Johnston and son, Ben, achieved a density of 140 plants per square metre. The Johnstons achieved an even seedbed by dragging a bar (in this case an old steel gate attached to a couple of chains) behind the seeder. The bar pushed the soil to the seeds and disrupted the clogs on the soil surface. "Achieving good soil-seed contact with the seedbed preparation is the prerequisite in the case of early sowing. Growers need to try and avoid staggered germination, and producing an even soil surface favours weed control," Bill said. "The seedbed preparation is the weakest link in the present technology of growing canola. Dragging something as simple as a steel gate after sowing costs nothing and can make big differences. In the case of sowing into stubble, a tire-roller can be used just as successfully." Other speakers on the day included Kevin Edgar, of Cyanamid, who discussed the IT canola trials and the prospect of Stomp in canola as a grass killer. Dovuro's Eamonn Rath spoke about two new triazine-tolerant canola lines, while John Corn of Liquid Rural Fertiliser discussed a new trial to be carried out at Katanning. Entomologist Phil Michael demonstrated the chess board effect in his insecticide trial, showing the damage to untreated canola seedlings compared with the intact plots. He advised growers that red-legged earth mite could destroy canola, especially after pasture, when treatments were delayed. Weed management practices were highlighted by Agwest's Derek Ryall, who discussed his examination of a 90 hectare weed-free paddock of IT canola. The paddock demonstrated the effectiveness of the early post emergence spray with atrazine, he said. ÿ

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