PROMISING results from the Hyper Yielding Crops research project conducted by Field Applied Research (FAR) Australia in conjunction with the GRDC have confirmed that farmers in high rainfall zones can target 10 tonne to the hectare cereal crops.
There is a similarly high yielding ceiling in the oilseeds space, with the top yield for canola in the NSW trial of the project clocking in at a whopping 5.43t/ha.
A clear theme throughout the trials, held at Wallendbeen, in the Riverina, and Gnarwarre, in the Western District in Victoria, was that farmers could best maximise their yields through the use of feed wheat cultivars.
At Wallendbeen the feed varieties Accroc and Anapurna significantly out yielded all other cultivars at all three levels of disease management and achieved over 10t/ha with fungicide input.
In Victoria Accroc and an as-yet unnamed feed variety were considerably higher yielding across all types management and also cracked through the 10t/ha mark.
On the canola front, researchers said there was a key element to unlocking high yields.
Nitrogen (N) and lots of it got canola to yield best.
"The highest nitrogen (N) application rate of 223 kg/ha resulted in the highest grain yield of 5.43 t/ha," FAR researchers said in their post-trial report.
This was 1.28 t/ha higher yielding than where 43 kg/ha N was applied (MAP and sulfate of ammonia only).
Interestingly, time of application was less important with only modest change when the N was applied in split applications at optimum times versus a one-off top dressing.
In terms of disease management, popular milling wheats such as Trojan and Scepter saw the biggest improvement when treated with higher fungicide rates, at a whopping 2.95 t/ha for Trojan and 1.63 t/ha for Scepter.
Scepter also took out the title as the highest yielding milling wheat, with its 9.03t/ha under the high input system.
This meant a 13.4 yield penalty to the highest yielding feed wheat.
High rainfall zone agronomist Craig Drum, based at Tatyoon, in Victoria's Western District said the findings backed up what growers had been seeing in their paddocks.
"The yields for the feed wheat are consistently around that 10-15 per cent higher than milling wheat," Mr Drum said.
He said the trials gave Western District growers added confidence to push for high yields.
"We see that we can grow those big tonnages with the right conditions and higher levels of inputs can be economically viable."
Mr Drum said he thought farmers may target the extreme high yields in paddocks primed to do well.
"You may have a paddock where you're going into a legume stubble with plenty of nitrogen there already and you get a good early break so the crop is up early, that might be the time where farmers really go for it rather than every single paddock."
Phil Hawker, director of western Victorian agronomy business Western Ag, said the trials showed the value of long season varieties in high rainfall zones.
"It's great to see this research happening and it is proving to us that it is best to get the crop in earlier in our environment, it then gets a month's extra moisture than the later sown crops and that can equate to significant yield differences."
Mr Hawker said the success of the higher input strategies showed how farmers could boost gross margins by targeting high yields.
"We can see that there is a pay-off with the inputs used and this gives farmers greater confidence to push boundaries there if they know there is a yield response."
Both Mr Hawker and Mr Drum said farmers in their areas were comfortable growing feed wheat, unlike farmers in other grain growing areas where the focus remains firmly on milling wheat, a fact reflected in available segregations in bulk handling systems.
"There are a lot of markets for feed wheat within the area and the farmers are comfortable with the marketing that needs to be done," Mr Hawker said.
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