The week that was: Sunday, October 6 - Saturday, October 12

The week that was: Sunday, October 6 - Saturday, October 12

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One-way disc plough analysed as part of research into inversion tillage tactics. PHOTO DPIRD

One-way disc plough analysed as part of research into inversion tillage tactics. PHOTO DPIRD

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Here's what was making headlines this 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, October 6 to Saturday, October 12.

Mouldboard plough and one-way disc plough efficacy compared by computer model

In Australia, most soil inversion tillage is being practiced judiciously on sandy-textured soils - in particular deep sands, sandy earths, deep sandy duplex (texture contrast) and sandy gravel soils - to improve productivity.

Soil inversion tillage completely modifies the surface profile and is designed to bury all surface residues, leaving these soils vulnerable to wind erosion until a cover crop is established.

While this risk can never be eliminated, it can be minimised by ploughing the soil when wet and sowing a cover crop as soon as possible into the moist soil brought to the surface.

Inversion ploughing when the soil is wet is also essential, as sands lack cohesion when they are dry and the soil moisture helps the soil 'hold-and-fold' on the plough board or disc, thereby achieving more effective inversion. Read the full story here.

Ability to mix soil will influence choice of tillage implement

Understanding how an implement interacts with the soil and changes the soil profile is critical to selecting the appropriate tillage implement - not only to overcome soil constraints, but also to influence the availability of soil nutrients and the effectiveness of soil amendments.

Implement selection involves studying the movement of the soil in three dimensions - vertically, laterally, and along the direction of travel after the tillage implement has passed.

 FIGURE 1 Soil profile images showing redistribution of blue sand buried at zero to 10cm and green sand at 20 to 30cm as a result of tillage by a mouldboard plough (left) and a spade on a rotary spader (right) over the same soil depth. SOURCE DPIRD

FIGURE 1 Soil profile images showing redistribution of blue sand buried at zero to 10cm and green sand at 20 to 30cm as a result of tillage by a mouldboard plough (left) and a spade on a rotary spader (right) over the same soil depth. SOURCE DPIRD

In this respect, field-based investigations by scientists from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the University of South Australia have used coloured sand as a visible tracer for the movement of soil by tillage. The coloured tracers had similar density and flow characteristics as the bulk soil. Read the full story here.

Match strategic tillage implements to soil type and constraint for effective amelioration

Diagnosing the nature and extent of soil constraints present in a paddock is key to determining which strategic tillage method to apply.

Taking soil samples at depth for chemical analysis helps identify soil pH extremes, sodicity, toxicities and nutrient deficiencies in the profile.

Push probes or penetrometers used in wet profiles can indicate hardpan layers.

Water repellence can be assessed through observation and in-field or laboratory testing of water or alcohol infiltration.

For constraints confined to the topsoil and immediate subsurface layer, shallow tillage to mix the soil may be adequate. This could include shallow incorporation of lime into an acid topsoil or stubble and nutrient incorporation. Read the full story here.

Scientists challenge legume N perceptions

Scientists in New South Wales and Queensland are `mythbusting' a commonly held belief that grain legume crops bolster soil fertility and reduce the need for costly nitrogen (N) inputs.

DAF principal development extension officer Jane Gentry has been involved in comparing the nutrient inputs of different farming systems and long-term impacts on soil nutrient status and cycling as part of a five-year northern farming systems project. Photo GRDC

DAF principal development extension officer Jane Gentry has been involved in comparing the nutrient inputs of different farming systems and long-term impacts on soil nutrient status and cycling as part of a five-year northern farming systems project. Photo GRDC

Recent research comparing the nutrient inputs of different farming systems and long-term impacts on soil nutrient status and cycling has found that most farming systems involving a range of crop species extract more nutrients than are supplied by common fertilisation strategies.

The five-year project is a flagship northern research investment for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and has been undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), CSIRO and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI). Read the full story here.

Darling Downs' grower Ross Krinke digging deeper into soil health

Farming land is an investment, invariably an expensive one, so it fits that improving land, or more specifically soil, adds value long-term and increases the potential for improved productivity and in turn profitability.

Darling Downs grain grower Ross Krinke and his son Mitchell on their new block which is part of a GRDC soil amelioration investment investigating the cost-benefits of different soil treatments. Photo GRDC

Darling Downs grain grower Ross Krinke and his son Mitchell on their new block which is part of a GRDC soil amelioration investment investigating the cost-benefits of different soil treatments. Photo GRDC

This philosophy is the driving force behind Darling Downs grain grower Ross Krinke's involvement in soil amelioration research happening across Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The grower, who with his family farms around 1500 hectares in the St Helen's and Millmerran districts, is one of more than 30 landholders from the two states hosting trials as part of a five-year research project looking at soil health and the cost-benefits of soil ameliorations.

The 'Economics of ameliorating soil constraints in the northern region' project is a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), the University of Queensland (UQ), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the University of New England (UNE) and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Read the full story here.

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