The week that was: Sunday, September 29 - Saturday, October 5

The week that was: Sunday, September 29 - Saturday, October 5

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The 3D ripping machine. PHOTO Dr Guangdi Li, NSW DPI

The 3D ripping machine. PHOTO Dr Guangdi Li, NSW DPI

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Here's what you need to know from across the grains industry this past week.

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There was plenty happening across the Australian grains industry over this past week.

Here, we take a look back at the top stories you read from Sunday, September 29 to Saturday, October 5.

Advice to match design of inclusion plates to soil type for optimum effect

Discrete element method (DEM) simulated effect of forward speed on topsoil inclusion using a deep ripper to 600-millimetre depth and inclusion plates. SOURCE UniSA

Discrete element method (DEM) simulated effect of forward speed on topsoil inclusion using a deep ripper to 600-millimetre depth and inclusion plates. SOURCE UniSA

Deep ripping has been the standard remedy for years to loosen hardpans and improve crop productivity.

However, where hardpans occur in deep sandy soils, particularly in Western Australia, there has been growing interest in the use of topsoil slotting, with inclusion plates attached to the rear of deep rippers to further increase crop performance.

Hardpans are distinct layers of dense soil, which are largely impervious to root growth.

Within agricultural soils, hardpans can occur through natural settlement and cementation and can be caused by machinery traffic, often to depths of up to 55 centimetres. Read the full story here.

Management considerations to reduce re-compaction and aid crop establishment post amelioration

Flat steel rollers used to firm the soil surface after deep ripping. PHOTO DPIRD

Flat steel rollers used to firm the soil surface after deep ripping. PHOTO DPIRD

As strategic deep tillage amelioration techniques alter the soil structure and surface conditions, planning for the soil's post-treatment management must start prior to these techniques being used.

Deep soil mixing, inversion ploughing and deep ripping leave a very 'soft' soil highly susceptible to re-compaction with consequent challenges for crop establishment. Read the full story here.

Innovative ripping machine able to tackle soil constraints at different depths

Deep ripping with lime and/or organic amendments is being investigated to see whether it can speed up the amelioration process in areas where crop production is constrained by subsoil acidity.

Subsoil acidity is a major constraint to crop productivity in the high-rainfall zone (500 to 800 millimetres per year) of south-eastern Australia. However, lime movement from surface liming is very slow - about 10mm per year.

Unlike sandy soils in Western Australia, the soils in south-eastern Australia often have subsoil acidity problems due to higher clay contents associated with high bulk density (1.5 to 1.7 grams per cubic centimetre) and high pH buffering capacity. Read the full story here.

NSW grain and cotton grower Gus O'Brien shares how to retain staff in tough times

NSW grain and cotton grower Gus OBrien understands when its dry and finances are tough, people start scrutinising labour costs, but he advocates doing whatever you can to keep key employees. Photo GRDC

NSW grain and cotton grower Gus OBrien understands when its dry and finances are tough, people start scrutinising labour costs, but he advocates doing whatever you can to keep key employees. Photo GRDC

New South Wales grain and cotton grower Gus O'Brien has a straightforward philosophy when it comes to successful staff retention: 'pay well, provide reasonable accommodation and give them some rein'.

From Warren in the state's central west, the grower spoke about the challenges of keeping staff during the current drought as part of a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Dealing with the Dry Forum.

Mr O'Brien employs two full-time staff, complemented by five to six casuals during busier times on his 7000-hectare aggregation of owned and leased land, which has a mix of irrigated and dryland farming. Read the full story here.

Reference manual charts how broadacre agriculture has changed in 30 years

Charles Sturt University's Professor Jim Pratley, left, and CSIRO's Dr John Kirkegaard with the new book. PHOTO Emily Malone

Charles Sturt University's Professor Jim Pratley, left, and CSIRO's Dr John Kirkegaard with the new book. PHOTO Emily Malone

A new book exploring the evolution of Australian farming systems over the past 30 years was launched at the 19th Australian Agronomy Conference held earlier this year at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

The e-book Australian Agriculture in 2020: From Conservation to Automation was edited by Charles Sturt University (CSU) Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley and CSIRO chief research scientist and CSU adjunct professor Dr John Kirkegaard.

Professor Pratley is the plant systems research pathway leader at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, an alliance between CSU and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

He was foundation dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at CSU, president of the Australian Society of Agronomy and was awarded an Australian Society of Agronomy fellowship during 2017. Read the full story here.

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