In the north of the state, great strides are being made to increase opportunities for canola growers, with trials and new research seeking to increase the efficiency and profitability of the crop through hybrid technologies.
Andrew Powne, manager of the 4500 hectare property “Boolavilla”, Croppa Creek, owned by Warakirri Cropping, has been experimenting with canola in the north over the past two years.
The property contains three blocks, consisting of about 50pc wheat, 25pc chickpeas and 25pc canola, with some mungbeans and irrigation.
Warakirri engaged this year in a Pioneer Seeds STRIKE Trial (Seed Technology Research in Key Environments), testing a range of experimental hybrids across a range of properties Australia wide.
The same hybrid lineup was setup across each site in WA, Victoria, SA and NSW.
Pioneer’s area manager for Northern NSW and the Liverpool Plains, Sam Gall, said the trials gave Pioneer the opportunity to look at experimental and hybrids on farm, and also see how they perform on the national stage.
“Pioneer plants and harvests the site, and Andrew looks after weed and insect control across the trial.”
“The grower gets the chance to see how the different hybrids grow on his farm, under his management conditions.”
“We will be able to see how the individual hybrids work and perform across a national level and local level,” he said.
Results will be collated from all the sites once harvest is completed, but Mr Powne says signs were very encouraging throughout.
“Some of the the hybrids that we have been trialing are stacking up really well, it has been very good to see some of the newer options,” he said.
Mr Powne was very pleased with the harvest results achieved on property this year considering the challenges of the season.
“We were windrowing at the end of September and all finished by October 25. We were due to finish earlier but we were slowed down by the rain.”
“Overall it looked pretty good, one of the lower ground varieties was affected by frost.”
“The majority of the hilly and elevated country produced yields of 2.3 tonne to the hectare.”
Mr Powne said the focus looking forward was on getting nutrition right to suit the northern conditions.
“We will be setting up earlier with nitrogen, zinc and potassium.”
Disease and insect management is another factor which Mr Powne believes needs to be specifically catered for the region.
“Managing diseases is always a battle.”
“We are particularly susceptible to Sclerotinia, starting in the chickpeas.”
“We need to be very aggressive in managing this with fungicides.”
“The timing is incredibly important. With the rain and flowering times.”
“Traditionally I have worked on a 20 per cent flowering rule for the first application.”
Phil Bowden of Pulse Australia and the Australian Oilseed Federation, Cootamundra, said that the canola industry has a great opportunity to expand further into the north of the state.
“We are very keen to promote canola as an alternative crop up north. Currently the dryland rotation is wheat, chickpeas, barley and then summer crops like sorghum.”
“Bringing another broadleaf crop into the rotation for resistant weed management is important and brings down disease risk long term.”
Acknowledging the challenges in successfully adding canola to a rotation in northern NSW, Mr Bowden is pleased with the workarounds being achieved by growers in the area.
“The first issue is maintaining enough moisture. Comparatively the soil types are very different to down south where canola is very profitable. 100ml is key before the crop is planted.”
Mr Bowden says variety based trials are allowing growers to make the best decisions based on their environment.
“Matching the range of varieties with very specific locations and soil types allows for better success.”
“The vertisol soils in the north are very different to the red brown earth you find down south,” he said.
“We are also researching the nutrition required for each soil type. In Southern regions we use high levels of sulphur and phosphorous early on, where as this won’t be as effective up north. When we have the information about the best nutrition options for the area, the formula needs to change.”