A Nuffield scholarship will help a Pine Lodge farmer put his ideas on double cropping to the international test.GEOFF ADAMS January 15, 2013 4:02am
Plant more crops in the annual rotation to increase soil moisture and organic health?
It sounds counter to what you’d expect, but Pine Lodge farmer David Cook is already getting good results from double cropping on his dryland property and will soon travel overseas to gather more information to support a new approach.
Mr Cook has been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship for 2013 which will first see him travel with other scholars to the United States, France, Ireland, the Philippines and China and then visit South America, Canada, Europe and return to the US to pursue his specific interests in crop rotations and cover crops including nutrient availability and fertiliser application.
Having seen crop rotations in many areas of Australia narrow in the past decade as a result of droughts and a subsequent lack of confidence in production capacity and profitability of rotation crops, Mr Cook made a decision several years ago to try to give his operation more flexibility.
‘‘I converted our seeding operation in 2009 to a full stubble retention system with a no-till cross-slot seeder, which has a combination of disc and tines.
‘‘I then started looking at the possibility of opportunistic summer crops, to both increase the seeding window and to increase the number of crops in our rotation,’’ Mr Cook said.
A trial of summer crops was run on his property and he has successfully grown commercial seed millet crops in the past two years, taking advantage of unseasonal rain.
‘‘The trial showed us that we could grow summer crops and get them through to harvest.
‘‘Growing the millet was profitable. The gross margin cleared more than we have ever grossed from a winter crop.’’
In addition, the following winter crops also appear to have benefited from the extra crop.
Mr Cook believes the practice could generate more organic matter and help keep microbial activity going in the soil, which helps nutrient availability.
Although the extra crop consumes soil moisture, he points out there is significant moisture loss on summer fallow anyway.
He is planning to use various cover crops when conditions are suitable, including seeding into canola and faba bean stubbles during harvest.
‘‘One of the main aims of the cover crops, especially in the canola and faba bean stubbles, is to produce a level of residue that can store any early autumn rain through to when we start seeding in April,’’ Mr Cook said.
He hopes to use his Nuffield Scholarship to gain a better understanding of the relationships between crop rotations and nutrient availability under different farming systems and how they are relevant to Australian systems.
‘‘I’d also like to assess alternative fertiliser strategies, including the CULTAN application system used overseas, where nutrients are injected into the ground via a spoked wheel — a technique that could be applied to dryland, irrigated and direct-seeded rice crops in Australia.’’
A foundation member of the Riverine Plains group, Mr Cook will publish his findings and speak to farming groups when he returns.
City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan urges people to continue supporting SPC Ardmona after yesterday’s funding announcement, but also warns it could mean less jobs in the future.
Mulwala Thirds full forward Gus McMillan kicked his 100th goal for the season on Saturday.
Murchison and Tatura SES units were two of 26 Victoria State Emergency Service volunteer units to receive an allocation of new equipment this week as part of the annual AAMI equipment handover program.
Echuca Police operated in association with local sheriffs to check passing cars for outstanding warrants.
Rochester resident Phyllis Thompson raised concerns about the pedestrian crossing outside the post office VicRoads recently.
Girgarre Primary School students relate what the best book is they have read and why.
The death of Arthur Cole is the passing of a true gentleman.
A commemorative plaque to mark 100 years of Berrigan Red Cross has been unveiled outside the Berrigan RSL Club.
Peter Maine has traken over the president's role for Heathcote Tourism and Development.
Cobram service sees crowd commemorate 48th anniversary of a key Vietnam battle.
The region is holding out for winter rain.
A $100 million investment program will recommence following parent company Coca-Cola Amatil's decision today to invest $78 million into SPC Ardmona.
Vale Pat Gardner, 1916 - 2014 whose last wish was for the Benalla ceramic mural to be listed by the National Trust.
- Benalla unveils its refurbished old shire offices which are now the Civic Centre
- Support Light the Night in Benalla next month
- Poppy Smith celebrates her second birthday, having survived a heart defect.
- Benalla Rural City Council announces intention to re-appoint CEO Tony McIlroy
- Benalla Art Gallery appoints new director
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.