AgMemo - Grains news, December 2017

Page last updated: Thursday, 7 December 2017 - 10:37am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Act now to reduce wind erosion risk

Paddock with stubble cover and windbreaks
Wind erosion risk can be reduced by retaining more than 50% cover over summer. 

Wind erosion risks can be reduced over summer if producers act now, is the message being delivered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Producers can do this by reducing soil exposure to wind and by reducing the erodibility of exposed soil by keeping enough ground cover to stop the top soil from blowing away.

The department recommends having at least 50% ground cover, regardless of soil type, to provide wind erosion protection through to the start of new-season growth.

This level of ground cover is about one tonne per hectare (t/ha) of wheat stubble, two t/ha lupin stubble or 0.5 t/ha pasture.

If planning to cultivate for the next crop, more ground cover may be required.

Anchored stubble needs to make up 30% of the total cover as this prevents unanchored stubble from blowing away.

Stubble that is lying down reduces erosion risk as long as it does not blow away.

The north-eastern grain belt is likely to have a high risk of wind erosion, because the year started with decile  one rainfall.

In this area, reduce all movement and disturbance of the soil in paddocks that are already at risk of erosion.

It is possible that the soil has formed an armouring layer that will protect the soil from the wind

For those with livestock, remove livestock as soon as ground cover levels drop to 50% or bare patches start to appear.

Producers may need to place stock in feed lots or other stable areas to protect paddocks from erosion.

Minimise vehicle traffic in all paddocks and protect bare areas, such as around gates and fence lines.

Summer weeds can be used to protect the soil, so in high risk areas spray as late as possible to control weed seed set.

Summer storms can be very erosive on bare paddocks.

Now is a good time to check and repair contour banks and drainage lines to improve safe disposal of surface water from storms.

The department recently updated its Dry Season Resources webpage with information on diagnosing and managing the risk of wind erosion.

Supplementry feeding of sheep was the topic of a recent DPIRD media release Sheep feeding set to start earlier.

For more information contact Justin Laycock, Research Officer, South Perth on +61 (0)8 9368 3832.