Canola establishment demonstration

By Paul Breust and Megan Beveridge, SFS

Key messages:

  • TrialsBookCoverDemonstration only no statistically significant conclusions can be drawn.
  • Using auto steer for inter-row sowing allowed successful establishment of canola in retained stubble.
  • Slug control was the same for a range of control products.
  • Slug control was improved in the burnt and incorporated treatments

There are many benefits to stubble retention. Research in the GRDC Water Use Efficiency project 2008-2013 demonstrated stubbles ability to reduce wind and rain erosion and increase rainfall infiltration.

In high rainfall zones (HRZ) stubble retention, from high yielding cereals, can impact negatively on crop production. Difficulty in establishing following crops, water logging, carry over disease, nutrient immobilisation and increased pest pressure have been negative impact factors.

Traditionally growers reduce stubble to manageable levels by burning, cutting short and baling, grazing, cultivating or harvesting short and spreading. These operations require additional inputs of time and labour.

GRDC have funded a series of research trials in the SFS area to test and develop cropping systems which maintain or increase profitability when stubble retention is practiced. The following are reports on trials conducted in 2014 at sites Lake Bolac, Carranballac and Yalla Y Poora.

The stubble project – maintaining profitable farming systems in Victoria and Tasmania with retained stubble (project number BWD00024) is funded by the GRDC.

Aims: To test impacts on canola establishment, development and yield of a range of stubble management practices.

Stubble management practices tested were:

  1.  Harvest high and burn
  2. Harvest high and cultivate with Vaderstad Top down
  3. Harvest low and spread
  4. Harvest low & bale windrow

Design

This was established as an unreplicated on-farm demonstration using farmer equipment – Gason bar with knife points using auto steer GPS guidance for inter-row sowing. Each strip was three header widths wide. Yield data collected on yield monitor for analysis.

Three slug bait products spread 90 degrees across direction of sowing on all stubble management strips compared to nil treatment.

  1. Meta @ 7.5kg/ha $3.45/ha
  2. Slug off @ 8kg.ha $10.45/ha
  3. Meterex @ 3kg/ha $17.50/ha
  4. Nil application until 20 May 14.
Figure 1: Demonstration layout 14 STUB BARR YYP. Slug baits 1 = Meta 7.5kg/ha, 2 = Slug off 8kg/ha, 3 = Meterex 3kg/ha, 4 = Nil baits

Figure 1: Demonstration layout 14 STUB BARR YYP. Slug baits 1 = Meta 7.5kg/ha, 2 = Slug off 8kg/ha, 3 = Meterex 3kg/ha, 4 = Nil baits

Results

Table 1: Slug numbers under 30cm x 30cm tiles in each product and stubble treatment 14/5/14

 Date: 14/5/14 Slug bait
Stubble treatment Meta Slugoff Meterex Nil
Stubble harvested at full height and burnt 0 0 0 1
Stubble harvested at full height and, topdowned and then sown 1 0 0 2
Stubble harvested low and spread 0 0 0 1
Stubble harvested low and baled 0 0 0 1
Stubble harvested at full height, then direct drilled into standing stubble 0 0 0 0

Table 2: Slug numbers under 30cm x 30cm tiles in each product and stubble treatment 20/5/14

 Date: 20/5/14 Slug bait
Stubble treatment Meta Slugoff Meterex Nil
Stubble harvested at full height and burnt 0 0 0 1
Stubble harvested at full height and, topdowned and then sown 0 0 0 2
Stubble harvested low and spread 0 0 0 6
Stubble harvested low and baled 0 0 0 0
Stubble harvested at full height, then direct drilled into standing stubble 0 0 0 0

Table 3 : Crop vigour and slug damage scores for each product and stubble treatment 20/5/14. Vigour 9 = good, 5 = medium, 1 = very poor. Slug damage scored as percentage of plants damaged.

Treatment 20/05/2014
Stubble treatment Bait Vigour (0-10) Slug damage (%)
Stubble harvested at full height and burnt Meta 9 1
Slugoff 9 1
Meterex 9 1
Nil 9 1
Stubble harvested at full height and, topdowned and then sown Meta 7 1
Slugoff 7 1
Meterex 7 1
Nil 7 2
Stubble harvested low and spread Meta 7 1
Slugoff 6 1
Meterex 6 1
Nil 5 10
Stubble harvested low and baled Meta 7 1
Slugoff 7 1
Meterex 7 1
Nil 5 7
Stubble harvested at full height, then direct drilled into standing stubble Meta 8 3
Slugoff 9 1
Meterex 8 3
Nil 6 10

Table 4 : Yield averages for each stubble treatment.

Crop 2014 Canola
Variety Thumper
Date: 5/12/2014
Comments
Windrowed 12/11/14
Plot Yield
(Av t/ha/plot)
Stubble harvested at full height and burnt 2.396
Stubble harvested at full height and top downed and then sown 2.162
Stubble harvested low and spread 2.314
Stubble harvested low and baled 2.331
Stubble harvested at full height, then direct drilled into standing stubble 2.164
Stubble harvested at full height and burnt 2.443
Figure 2 : Yield yield map for 14 GRDC STUB BARR YYP  demo.

Figure 2 : Yield yield map for 14 GRDC STUB BARR YYP demo.

Discussion

As detailed in the introduction there are several potential problems that can impact on the following crop in a retained stubble system. The demonstration was initiated to investigate and measure real paddock scenarios for crop establishment, vigour, slug damage and final yield. While no data based conclusions can be drawn from the demonstration some clear messages can be defined and used to design future experiments.

Crop establishment

Figure 3: Sowing Topdown v retained stubble treatments

Figure 3: Sowing Topdown v retained stubble treatments

Crop establishment was not compromised by any of the treatments with the equipment used. However the top downed treatment tended to block up much more than the other treatments. This was exacerbated by the top down treatment being done one month prior to sowing which is later than ideal. If the stubble had been incorporated earlier it is expected that it would have broken down considerably more and caused much less problems.

The retained stubble treatment also experienced problems but to a lesser degree than the top down and a higher degree compared to the short harvest heights. No real surprises there but the establishment in the stubble retained system was successful which indicates canola can be successfully established in this system. Specialised equipment such as coulters in front of tynes & disc seeders are better suited to establishing crops in retained stubble when compared to knife point only seeders. Accurate auto steer systems permit inter-row sowing especially on row spaces >250mm. Access to this technology is considered vital to the success of establishing crops in retained cereal stubble.

Figure 4: Sowing top downed treatment.

Figure 4: Sowing top downed treatment.

report 7 figure 5

Figure 5: Sowing short baled treatment

report 7 figure 6

Figure 6: Sowing short spread treatment. NB inter-row sowing

Slug control

The information collected showed very little variation between slug control products. The results indicated that the burnt & incorporated treatments gave better control than the baled, spread and retained stubble treatments. In the nil slug control sections of these treatments scores ranged from 7-10% damage. These areas were treated after counts were conducted to avoid any ongoing problems.

Crop vigour

This was a visual score conducted in the slug bait application strips. The burnt and stubble retained treatments were slightly better for vigour than the incorporated, spread & baled treatments. The crop vigour results for the stubble retained treatments are encouraging. Even with higher slug damage scores in these treatments the vigour score was okay, especially in the areas where slug control was used.

Yield

The strongest and most encouraging message from this demonstration was that there were minimal yield differences between the various stubble treatments. Average yields were measured at 2.164 to 2.419t/ha, an average difference of 255kg/ha worth $122/ha at $480/t. Further replicated trial work will be conducted in 2015 using both disc & tyned seeders to test and develop this system further.

SFS gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Noel, Tim, Simon Barr and families at this site. Also Craig Drum, Gorst Rural, for his generous assistance.

 

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About BCG

Birchip Cropping Group Inc. (BCG) is a not-for-profit agricultural research and extension organisation led by farmers in the Victorian Wimmera and Mallee.
This entry was posted in Canola establishment in retained stubble, Disease management, Pest management, Research results, Seeding systems, Stubble management at harvest and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Canola establishment demonstration

  1. Pingback: 2014 field trials | The stubble project: Victoria and Tasmania

  2. Pingback: Break crops in retained stubble systems in south west Victoria | The stubble project: Victoria and Tasmania

  3. Pingback: Inter-row sowing into retained stubble in south west Victoria | The stubble project: Victoria and Tasmania

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