Better plant establishment lifts results

Early season tactics drive returns from canola and pulse crops

Oilseeds
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Efforts boosted to give west and south canola and pulse crops the best start at sowing.

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Crop establishment for canola will be a focus of research in the western and southern regions. PHOTO GRDC

Crop establishment for canola will be a focus of research in the western and southern regions. PHOTO GRDC

A four-year project, launched in 2018, will boost industry understanding of crop establishment, density and spacings to maximise canola and pulse yields and profits in the southern and western regions.

The initial target of this project is a 30 per cent improvement in establishment of relevant crops and a 5 per cent yield increase over 200,000 hectares across the southern and western regions, says Andrew Etherton, GRDC Manager Agronomy and Farming Systems.

By June 2022, growers and advisers will have access to sound agronomic knowledge and supporting data allowing them to improve crop establishment and decrease seed costs with conventional air-seeders for canola, lentil and faba bean in the southern region, and canola, wheat and lupin in the western region, and consider the costs and benefits of precision planters.

This outcome will depend upon current crop establishment rates with commercial seeders, and the potential of seeder enhancements, such as precision planters, to improve establishment, reduce seed costs, and increase yield and profit."

Mr Etherton says there could be spillover benefits to other crops, such as chickpea, field pea, vetch and barley, and the project includes development and implementation of an extension and communication plan.

It will shed light on the factors influencing establishment and typical rates of achieved by growers," he says.

The initial target of this project is a 30 per cent improvement in establishment of relevant crops and a 5 per cent yield increase over 200,000 hectares across the southern and western regions - GRDC Manager Agronomy and Farming Systems Andrew Etherton

The project is surveying crop establishment; holding seeder demonstration and comparison trials; and undertaking small plot field experimental data over three seasons.

It will be exploring way to improve sowing, in terms of reduced seed rates and costs, and increased crop uniformity, yield and profit.

We are testing the concept of more precise seeding in three crops with contrasting seed size, canopy development and growth patterns canola, lentil and faba bean in the south and canola, wheat and lupin in the west," Mr Etherton says.

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