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No Till Following Pastures

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Video Transcript

Chris McDonough from Rural Solutions SA speaks to us about many of the key messages, benefits, and results which have been discovered following the project investigatingg no till cropping following pastures. Probably about 70% of our Mallee farmers in South Australia would call themselves mixed farmers that means a lot of them are trying to crop into pasture ground.

The Objective of the No Till Project

Farmers have found it particularly difficult to no-till into those pastures. So what we are trying to do with this project is to look at what are the actual reasons for poorer crop performance and are there practical things that farmers can do to overcome these. We tried to simulate what some of the more traditional cultivation practices would be, so we did working the paddocks in late February, early March In strips.

The we had no till, and then we had areas of no till with higher input. What we did find the difference in terms of tillage treatment was that where we did the early working there was around, on average, around 20 kilograms of nitrogen – more in the top 30 centimeters of soil as opposed to the no till plots.

Cultivation and Soil Nutrition for No Till Cropping

The cultivation had actually caused a greater amount of nutrition at seeding time. The interesting thing when we came to reap the plots is that the no till came through with the highest yield. Then, when we worked out the nitrogen removal from each of the plots, on average by, you know, working up from the yield and the protein we actually found that the no-till plots got hold of an extra twenty units of nitrogen showing that with early working you do get a flash of nitrogen, flush of nutrients early, but over the season the no-till systems Actually because of their microbial fertility, because of the way that as it rains through the season the bugs get going and so the break down of the organic matter that you get a lot more contribution of nutrients throughout the growing season when our mallee crops really really need it.

Comparing Early Working and Conventional Seeding

So at the end of the day, working out the gross margins, the no-till system, even though it was hard wheat, it’s because of the high yield it just came slightly lower in protein for hard so didn’t get quite as good a price, but it was still $48 ¬†a hectare. better off than the early work system, and with a slightly better nitrogen management, it would’ve hit hard as well and then even more profitable.

No till into pastures when you’re trying to get everything right has actually outperformed the early working and conventional cultivation going into crop coming out of pastures. Early grass removal proved to be superior in the way the crop looked and to the yields at the end of the day then spray-topping in that pasture phase.

The other key thing is if you are trying no-tilling into pastures then perhaps don’t be too put off if the no-till looks a bit worse early on, because certainly the experience so far from this project has been that the no-till ground comes through at the end of the day.

Chris McDonough, from Rural Solutions SA, speaks about many of the key messages, benefits and results which have been discovered following the project investigating No-till cropping following pastures.

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