WHEN you increase crop germinations by 50 per cent and yields by about two tonnes per hectare on your poorest soils, you are going to be pretty excited about the future and that has been the outcome for Stu Kelly, who farms south of Moora.
The Kelly family grows wheat, barley, canola and lupins, in addition to running sheep, over soil types that range from beautiful loams through to the "poorest white sand you have ever seen''.
Mr Kelly said this was the reason he trialled the SE14 moisture attraction and retention agent from SACOA, which revealed a serious non-wetting issue, before applying it with lupins and wheat over 1000ha last season.
"We needed to get our plants to germinate and with SE14, you would say the seeds are germinating 90 per cent,'' Mr Kelly said.
"On our non-wetting sand and gravels last season, the lupin germinations were so even - like we have not seen before on these soil types.
"It was 50pc more germination and yields went from 1-1.5t/ha previously to average 3.2t/ha - and some areas went 5t/ha.
"We weren't sure whether the yield monitor was playing up.
"We thought something was wrong or it was not calibrated right.''
Mr Kelly said the crop also outcompeted the weeds extremely quickly, helping to improve weed control and save on herbicides.
"As a result, some of our lupins that were earmarked for two radish sprays only got one. It is bad radish country, but there was none there,'' he said.
"We have had serious issues from non-wetting and staggered germinations.
Brome grass has been a real problem for us, but we are finding that we are now getting even germination and crop competition - and that's saving our bacon.''
Due to the excellent results with SE14, Mr Kelly said they were considering using the moisture agent on their better soils.
"We are confident that with five to 10 millimetres of rainfall, we could get our canola to strike and survive,'' he said.
The SE14 was applied with the seed at 2 litres a hectare via a Furrow Management Systems liquid kit on the family's Ausplow DBS seeding bar and Mr Kelly expects to use a similar application rate for the coming season, plus further trials at slightly higher and lower rates.
"What we like about the SE14 is it's so easy to use,'' he said.
"Diluted with Flexi-N (liquid nitrogen) and water, it just flows beautifully - we haven't had any blocks with our liquid system.
"It's just a fantastic product to use and we are wrapped with the results."
Using a dual shoot system, the family bands 70L/ha of Flexi-N with half of their compound fertiliser on heavy country, whereas on lighter land, 35L/ha of Flexi-N and 35L/ha of water is applied with the SE14 alongside the seed.
In terms of the risk of toxicity from high rates of Flexi-N applied with the seed, Mr Kelly said SACOA had conducted extensive trials indicating that 35L/ha, and even up to 50L/ha, should not cause any major problems with germinations.
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