A range of technical information to assist landholders to navigate the growing season has been harnessed on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s website.
The Season 2018: seasonal and management information for farmers webpage includes information on crop agronomy, livestock management, farm budgeting and health and financial information.
The delayed season break has created a variety of management challenges for landholders across the agricultural region.
The department’s latest Statistical Seasonal Forecast for June to August and June to October continues to show a 40 per cent chance of exceeding median rainfall over most of the grainbelt, with seasonal rainfall most likely to be between decile 2-3.
Northern and central agricultural areas have received good rainfall to date, despite the late break, while the eastern south central grainbelt and the inland South Coast are experiencing below average rainfall.
There have been widespread reports of wind events resulting in soil erosion, prompting the department to remind landholders to take action to minimise the impact of wind and water erosion, despite recent rainfall.
The department’s Land and Water Assessment group has been monitoring groundcover and identified low levels of groundcover in the eastern and northern grainbelt.
Research officer Justin Laycock said some areas would continue to be at risk for some time.
“It will take at least a month for new crops and pastures to establish after recent widespread rainfall, to produce enough groundcover to protect paddocks from erosion,” he said.
Erosion removes fine particles of soil, including nutrients, clay and recently applied fertiliser, which can reduce yields by up to 25 per cent.
Mr Laycock said at least 50 per cent groundcover was required to mitigate wind erosion, while 70 per cent was required to stem water erosion.
“There are some simple strategies that landholders can follow to minimise the loss of valuable topsoil,” he said.
“This includes keeping machinery and vehicles off paddocks and removing stock to prevent the soil surface from becoming detached.”
Mr Laycock said with below average rainfall forecast for the growing season, stock management to protect paddocks would be imperative.
“Landholders will need to consider stocking rates carefully to ensure there is at least 600 kilograms of dry matter per hectare always left on pasture paddocks,” he said.
“Another option is to feed stock in confined paddocks or feedlotting, while some producers may need to consider the cost-benefit of agisting or selling stock before stock and paddocks lose too much condition.”
Weed management could also be a challenge this season, as growers seek to balance the benefit of providing groundcover with the risk to crop potential.
“Weeds could serve a purpose in some cases to help stabilise the soil and reduce the risk of erosion,” department research officer Alex Douglas said.
“There could also be a risk to crops that have been dry sown from weeds that come up with the crop and compete for available soil moisture.
“Growers should monitor their crops carefully and talk to their local agronomist about the best option for their situation.”
There could also be some interest in some areas in reseeding, depending on the local season forecast and paddock conditions.
“It is best to inspect sown paddocks to determine if there is any viable seed and to wet up small patches to confirm the potential for germination,” Ms Douglas said.
“If intending to re-sow a cereal into a canola paddock treated with atrazine or propyzamide, be aware that these herbicides may be still active to cereal crops.”
For more information about strategies to mitigate wind erosion and other growing season resources click here.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison
+61 (0)8 9368 3937