Trialling precision seeding equipment has given Central West NSW grain growers Dave and Nigel Newbigging greater insight into their farm’s cropping capabilities, as well as alternatives to traditional tyne sowing.
The Newbiggings are used to being in the spotlight for their farming techniques. Last year they were finalists in their category at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, held by the Kondinin Group.
The Newbiggings have been trialling the use of a modified John Deere Max Emerge disc seeding unit to test the benefits of more precise seed placement and wider row spacing.
Having achieved comparable results to their traditional tyne sowing approach, Dave Newbigging can see future benefits in accurate seed placement techniques.
“Normally we run a 15-inch spacing (37.5cm) with our tyne machine and with the Max Emerge we were able to use a 30 inch (75cm) spacing,” Mr Newbigging said.
“With the extra space we thought the plants would stand a bit better if it was drier toward the end of the season.
“We also went from using 2kgs of seed per hectare to 500g so there’s a bit of saving there too,” Mr Newbigging said.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is encouraging the adoption of precision farming techniques as a means of bolstering on-farm productivity.
The Newbigging’s grow wheat, canola, barley and chickpeas in rotation on a mixture of sand, clay and red loam on their property 20km west of Peak Hill in Central West NSW.
“We used the Max Emerge seeding unit to sow canola. We got blank sowing discs and drilled holes in them so that one seed would be spread at a time,” Mr Newbigging said.
Last year the Newbigging’s used coated seeds to sow their crops but they believe using a black uncoated seed will work much more effectively.
“It worked well but we could make some alterations to it to make it work better. If we could stop the holes blocking we would get a lot better even space and plant stand,” he said.
Although the trial results were promising, Mr Newbigging said the cost-benefits would vary year to year against his traditional tyne sowing.
“Last year we sowed with both machines on the same day and the tyne machine delivered 400kg/ha more than the Max Emerge. I think we would need to save more money than just the difference in seed costs to really make this work,” he said.
To achieve reasonable results using the more precise seed placement technique, Mr Newbigging believes the seed should be dry sown and followed by rain shortly after.
“For the best results you need to sow dry but you don’t want to wait three weeks for a shower of rain. It makes it difficult to get it spot on but when you are sowing with such slow seed rates you want every seed to come up, so conditions need to be ideal,” Mr Newbigging said.
“With the Max Emerge you’ve just got to get so much right to get the plant standard you need.
“If you get the rain and you’ve got a good profile it will work but it’s not going to work every single year – it’s not going to be a year in year out thing for us.”
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