Grain growers can look 'over the fence' for practical crop management tips at two grains research events being held in Central Queensland this month.
Peer-to-peer learning is a key feature of the GRDC Grains Research Updates being held at Capella on Wednesday, November 27 and Moura on Thursday, November 28.
At the Capella Update, Dysart grower Brian Gregg will take part in a Q&A-style panel discussion on managing nutrition for the 2020 summer crop - alongside Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) researcher Doug Sands and Northern Grower Alliance chief executive officer Richard Daniel.
Mr Gregg will outline his experiences with the deep banding of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) which have helped address sub-soil deficiency issues and delivered significant crop yield benefits across his farm over the past six years.
"The results are certainly there - deep banding P and K increased our average sorghum yields by at least 0.5 tonnes/hectare and chickpea yields by around 1t/ha in the first year and are continuing to show yield benefits," Mr Gregg says.
"We've just re-done a couple of paddocks because, although we were still getting results, we felt they could be improved with a top-up.
"While the application is reasonably expensive, especially for the amounts we're applying, we've found if you grow sorghum in the first year you pay for it, if you grow chickpeas in the first year you double your investment and after six years it's still paying.
"That's a pretty convincing argument.
"For growers attending the Moura Update, mungbean profitability will be on the agenda with presentations from Doug Sands - on the latest time of sowing, plant population and row spacing research - and Rolleston district grower Lee Jones who will offer some practical insights into his mungbean cropping experiences.
Having regularly grown mungbeans over the past 17 years, Mr Jones has trialled a range of agronomic practices including different row spacings and planting times, sown new-release varieties and planted into fallow and double cropped country.
That experience has shaped his crop management approach and helped establish a few basic guidelines to increase yield reliability.
"For us, mungbeans are more an opportunity crop rather than part of a set rotation mainly because they are a great fit in the system if rain is favourable at that January/February sowing time," Mr Jones says.
"They are great to switch winter paddocks to summer or the other way around, as well as being an excellent option for paddocks with feathertop Rhodes grass issues because an in-crop grass herbicide can be used.
"Over the time, I've learnt a few important points that can help increase reliability.
Mr Jones says these include:
- plant good quality seed;
- make sure establishment is even;
- use narrow row spacings;
- keep a close eye on weeds, insects and disease, given that mungbeans are a quick maturing crop;
- avoid spring planting windows; and
- target the crop when rainfall is more reliable 30 days after planting, as mungbeans are poor users of stored subsoil moisture.
"Experience has certainly taught us a lot, but so too have courses like the Australian Mungbean Association agronomy training and information days like GRDC Updates," he says.
"I'd encourage growers to attend these type of events, as they're invaluable to help keep abreast of the latest research and management recommendations.
"The Updates will also include presentations on managing climate variability, future directions for wheat breeding, managing frost risk on slopes, cover cropping, time of sowing research, nutrition management and improving the performance of farming systems in central Queensland."
Presenters include CSIRO scientists Jeremy Whish and Greg Rebetzke, DAF researchers Darren Aisthorpe and Andrew Erbacher, AMPS head research agronomist Matt Gardner and Richard Daniel.
Additional topics being covered at the Capella Update include a presentation on issues relating to marketing grain, chemical residues and maximum residue limits by GRDC's chemical regulation manager Gordon Cumming, while at Moura, well-known Rolleston agronomist Jeff York will outline local experiences with cover crops.
The Capella Update will be held at the Capella Cultural Centre on November 27, while the Moura Update will be held on November 28, at the Moura Tavern, 8 Bell Street.
Registrations open at 8:30am for a 9am start and the program will conclude at 3pm.
Registration cost is $30 per person, which includes morning tea, lunch and proceedings.