Ag students benefit from brassica crop

Ag students benefit from brassica crop

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Students Madison Hourigan, Amelia Murray and Thomas Eason with Teresa Standing, Gilgandra High School agriculture teacher, and Martin Murray, AMPS Commercial agronomist, Armatree. Photo. Gabrielle Johnston.

Students Madison Hourigan, Amelia Murray and Thomas Eason with Teresa Standing, Gilgandra High School agriculture teacher, and Martin Murray, AMPS Commercial agronomist, Armatree. Photo. Gabrielle Johnston.

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Gilgandra High ag students have a brassica grazing crop project going.

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In Central West NSW at Gilgandra there's a "brilliant" Bouncer forage brassica crop, which is creating a talking-point around town especially after years of drought.

It's not just any crop, but the result of a partnership involving the rural community and the school.

In a joint venture industry, farmers and the Gilgandra High School have teamed-up to produce the crop. The idea is to provide agriculture students with the opportunity for greater hands-on practical education in the paddock combined with some basic data collection.

The crop is growing on a 10-hectare paddock with the land being provided for the trial by local farmers Greg and Dianne Peart, "Calginda".

Gilgandra High School agriculture teacher Teresa Standing said when COVID-19 hit local community member Nathan Whiteman and agronomist Martin Murray, AMPS Commercial Armatree, kept the project going. The men spent numerous hours working at the site, donated seed was organised and the loan of spray equipment.

"Times have been fairly tough for everyone in the agriculture sector, so I'm really appreciative of Corteva and Pasture Genetics for lending us the spray rig and donating the seed to make this happen," said Mr Murray.

"I think it is really great to be able to support not just the school kids, but also to support the local community. I just really want to see the school benefit from it," said Mr Murray.

He said Bouncer Brassica was not a widely grown crop in the district, but some farmers were seeing the benefits.

"Bouncer forage brassica is very similar to a canola," said Mr Murray.

"It provides a lot of bulk, really good high-quality feed.

"It's probably suited a bit better to sheep than cattle.

"There's a bit of it grown locally traditionally, but there probably hasn't been a lot.

"It is becoming a bit more popular particularly on places that grow oats each year as it's another option to break up the rotation and change things up a bit," Mr Murray said.

He said the school's crop had enjoyed a good start with rain, and was exceeding expectations.

"It's going brilliantly," he said.

"Given the amount of rain it's had recently it's doing quite well and it is really meeting and exceeding expectations.

"I've heard a few comments from people saying that Bouncer forage brassica looks pretty good."

Mrs Standing said while, the project is not being run as a trial in the conventional sense students will be learning about gathering agricultural data and the benefits of this when it comes to determining crop selection.

The school's Merino sheep have only just gone onto the crop and Mrs Standing said students would be taking regular measurements of the crop to determine recovery after grazing.

Students will also be measuring individual sheep to see how effective the crop is regards the weight gain of individual sheep. Ultimately they will determine the varieties effectiveness as a fodder feed crop.

"This trial would not have been possible without such widespread community support,"

Our students are already benefiting so much from this project. - Teresa Standing

"Our students are already benefiting so much from this project.

"The connection to industry and practical hands-on learning is so valuable to our school," Mrs Standing said.

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