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New Resources Promote Flexible Approach to Farming

21 May 2012

GRDC

Western Australian research suggests the inclusion of fallow in the crop sequence can be a productive option, boosting the yields of subsequent crops and helping to control annual ryegrass.

This is one of the research outcomes outlined in detail in the new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Crop Sequencing Supplement - Flexible Farming.

The supplement is included in the May/June edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover and is available at www.grdc.com.au/Ground-Cover-98-Supplement

It outlines projects undertaken under the GRDC Crop Sequencing Initiative, which aims to help growers profitably integrate a greater range of land uses, including pastures and fallows, into their farming systems.

Research under the initiative is also highlighted in a special feature about crop sequencing in the May/June Ground Cover TV DVD, to be included in Ground Cover.

GRDC acting executive for regional grower services, Stuart Kearns, said that in research initiated and conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) at Wongan Hills, WA, wheat showed a yield response following a winter fallow in both dry and wet growing seasons.

“The winter fallow effect was shown to last for more than one year and to provide an opportunity for effective annual ryegrass control,” he said.

Mr Kearns said the term ‘crop sequence’ referred to a more flexible approach to farming systems than the traditional rotational pattern of one crop always following another.

“Crop sequencing can respond to agronomic, market and seasonal needs and opportunities,” he said.

Mr Kearns said the GRDC Crop Sequencing Initiative was established to improve understanding of the risks and benefits associated with including a broader range of crop types and end uses in the farming system.

“Trials have been established to assess the agronomic and economic value of including brassica, pulse and pasture crops, and in some cases fallow, in the mix,” he said.

“End uses being compared include grain, hay, grazing and brown manure.”

Mr Kearns said that in addition to looking at the relationship between crop choice and sequence on diseases, pests, weed control options and available nutrients, many of the projects would also assess the effect on available soil water for the following crop.

He said that while there were individual projects funded under the umbrella of the Crop Sequencing Initiative, many of these were working in collaboration with other projects in other GRDC initiatives.

“Bringing current and new information together is a core aim of the Crop Sequencing Initiative,” Mr Kearns said.

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