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Mouldboard ploughing to increase crop choice in WA’s northern wheatbelt

By monitoring individual paddocks over
a wide range of farms in Western Australia the Department of Agriculture & Food WA
Profitable Crop and Pasture Sequencing project is working to determine where and when
break crops deliver real benefits. The aim is to help growers make sound
crop rotation decisions resulting in a better return on
investment in break crops. Mouldboarding is essentially using a
plough to invert the top 30 centimetres or so of soil and for Dan Michael in Mingenew it’s
been a way of tackling yield constraining low pH levels on his
northern wheatbelt property Generally the mouldboarding, the next door neighbours have been doing it for a while so the main issues are non wetting. Has been as issue for us and we’ve had low pH and we wanted to control weeds so it’s generally been if we are having some issues along any of those sort of lines. It’s an ongoing process. We will probably doing between four to five hundred hectares a year
and it just depends on where we are in the rotation and what
we’re doing. If just alleviate any those issues that we’ve got. The pH’s were at tops that probably ran around the fives’s but at subs they’re probably getting down to the low fours or even some of them into the three’s. So that’s why some of those paddocks were pretty urgent. We have been sticking a bit of lime on over the last three or
four years – there’s been a fair bit so 2 tonnes at a minimum. So the paddocks they’ve been limed we’d done four tonne before we turned it and then we’ll put two tonne on the following year and then probably another two tonne in a couple years time. Weeds are always an issue. Some of the earlier paddocks that we did try it’s our second year of mouldboarding. The first ones we did have some problem areas with mainly radish but we’ve generally got some weed base in most paddocks anyway. Now in year two of his mouldboarding program Dan says the good results are evident. Was our second year last year we mouldboarded and we didn’t
have any rain for six weeks so it wasn’t ideal but we ended up still out yielding similar
rotations by half a tonne so we’re fairly happy with that and this
year we haven’t obviously harvested it yet, it got a big wind blow and all that sort of stuff but in the last month its really starting to pick up so the proof will be in the end result and last year’s mouldboarded stuff this year was very good establishment like wet so we’ve seem to have alleviated our
non-wetting issues a lot better anyway, so its not seen to be an issue. The weeds numbers are right down and that sort of stuff and then it just the continuing of using all the other processes that we have The paddocks that we have done, they weren’t not productive but it is just about trying to manage
some issues that we have had in there that’s the main reason why we were doing it just improving its productivity a bit there.

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