GAPP crop walks

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The Growth, Adoption, Productivity and Profitability (GAPP) program has nearly drawn to a close with the completion of three crop walks for six of the farmer discussion groups.

These events were an opportunity for the discussion groups to cap off three years of learnings with a practical and hands on tour, with farmers sharing their experiences of the 2017 growing season so far.

Industry experts including IPNI’s Dr. Robert Norton, Agriculture Victoria’s Luise Sigel, local champion farmers Alistair Murdoch and Mark Kentishs, ADM grain marketer Peter Sidley and BCG research staff were on hand to provide timely information and add to the group discussion.

The GAPP groups from Rupanyup, Hopetoun and Manangatang enjoyed a combined trip on 26 July, to the Kooloonong and Manangatang region for a packed morning of drone demonstrations, trial site inspections and then joining the BCG Northern Mallee stubble tour in the afternoon.

This program gave the 22 young farmers an opportunity to mingle and exchange ideas whilst learning about where they can get benefit from drones followed by a demonstration flying over the test strips in the Yield Prophet® paddock.

Alistair Murdoch talked to the group about his experiences using a stripper front last harvest. He said he had gained about an extra 300kg/ha using the stripper front versus draper.

By contrast, a visit to Mark Kentishs’ property showed an impressive canola crop that had been sown into a stripper front stubble with good emergence. Mark said he likes pushing the barriers and taking a risk to see if he can get a better performance out of his soils.

The crop walk around Quambatook on 23 August was also a combined event between the ‘Quamby’ and Southern Mallee groups. Fifteen farmers toured the district where paddock ‘stuff ups’ (all farmers experience) provided some of the best learning outcomes.  Brenten Pay’s barley paddock had one strip of underdeveloped, yellowing plants, where the MAP fertiliser had run out and demonstrated the value of starter phosphorous in the paddock.

Tyler Nelson’s shared his first year of using a disc seeder and how the heavy stubble load and high rainfall in the lead up to sowing had presented several challenges.

Caption: How did seeding go? Tyler Nelson shares his disc seeder experiences in 2017.
How did seeding go? Tyler Nelson shares his disc seeder experiences in 2017.

BCG research leader Claire Browne explained the heat stress trial at Normanville and a highlight was the drone demonstration by Amy Smith who explained the practicalities of using a drone for research purposes, what images it can take, what they are used for and how they are interpreted. This culminated in the taking an image of the heat stress trial that was shared with group later.

Caption: The heat stress trial at Normanville with attendees at the centre bottom of the trial.
The heat stress trial at Normanville with attendees at the centre bottom of the trial.
Spot the drone: Amy Smith demonstrates a drone flight to the Quambatook and Southern Mallee GAPP Members at Normanville.
Spot the drone: Amy Smith demonstrates a drone flight to the Quambatook and Southern Mallee GAPP Members at Normanville.

The GAPP women’s discussion group toured the Donald region on 5 September and were lucky enough to have Dr. Norton attend to provide crop nutrition and general agronomic advice at the three paddock stops on the tour.

Dr. Norton explained to the crowd of 15, the nitrogen requirements crops are likely to be experiencing now explaining that many cereals have finished the vegetative stage which influences yield and entering the reproductive phase which influences the protein content.

His message was that given the excellent rainfall received before and throughout the 2017 growing season, people should consider applying more nitrogen to match the excellent water available to crops throughout the region.

It takes dedication: the GAPP women’s group huddle in the wind and rain to inspect chickpeas at Jenny and Mark Mortlock’s property at Donald.
It takes dedication: the GAPP women’s group huddle in the wind and rain to inspect chickpeas at Jenny and Mark Mortlock’s property at Donald.

This sentiment was reiterated at the next stop, a canola paddock just south of Donald, where Karen Clarke explained she had used Yield Prophet® to match nitrogen applications with yield predictions. She had been given a paddock subscription as part of the GAPP program and with some Yield Prophet® training from Harm van Rees, she felt comfortable applying a second application of nitrogen that they may not have normally applied.

All crop walks had the added bonus of having Ms. Sigel, which gave the attendees a chance to learn from an expert in crop disease, their symptoms and treatment strategies.

Whilst the group discussed other issues in the paddock, Ms Sigel would be busy identifying crop diseases then bringing them back to the paddock. Several chickpea paddocks were displaying early signs of aschocyta and she warned this would have to be monitored going into spring or with future rainfall events that could spread the disease further.

She also highlighted that Septoria was also an emerging issue in wheat in the Wimmera at levels not seen before. Her message was for farmers to be vigilant in their monitoring.

These crop walks mark the conclusion of the three year GAPP program. BCG is seeking further funding to continue this valuable program for young and women farmers.  

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