Peter Kuhlmann checks nodulation on a vetch plant growing on his property at Mudamuckla where he will host a field day for local farmers on August 15.
Photo:Photo: P Kuhlmann
A Mudamuckla farmer will host a field day on his property on August 15 to demonstrate opportunities available to local grain growers to improve their farming systems.
Incorporation of legume break crops – such as lentils and vetch – into cropping rotations will be a focus of Peter Kuhlmann’s field day which will also highlight the importance of harvest weed seed capture in the fight against herbicide resistant weeds.
Speaking at the field day will be South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI*) vetch breeder, Stuart Nagel, and senior extension officer with the University of Adelaide’s Nitrogen Fixation Program, Dr Maarten Ryder.
Mr Kuhlmann, a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Panel member, says he is hosting the field day to encourage his peers to explore options which offer the potential for increased productivity, profitability and sustainability in marginal cropping areas.
“Lack of reliable break crops and herbicide resistance are among the challenges confronting grain growers in this low rainfall region,” Mr Kuhlmann said.
“But new crop varieties, new knowledge and innovation in farm practices – much of which is being generated out of GRDC-funded research and development – are providing growers with avenues for improvement of their enterprises.”
Mr Kuhlmann’s success this year with a new vetch variety is likely to be of particular interest to local farmers.
“Vetch has grown well on our grey calcareous soils for the past two years, and this year I added a new early-maturing variety called Volga which has grown quite well,” Mr Kuhlmann said.
The variety was produced through SARDI’s national vetch breeding program which is supported by the GRDC.
Vetch is a multi-purpose crop that can be used as grain, grazing, hay production or as a green manure and its benefits in low rainfall farming systems will be outlined at the field day by SARDI vetch breeder Stuart Nagel.
“For a long time we have been seeking a low rainfall legume as an alternative to medic, and this need has become even more important now that we are growing higher yielding cereals more intensively,” Mr Kuhlmann said.
“We are looking for a profitable break crop that will not host cereal root diseases and add lots of nitrogen into the system. There is concern about how well medics are nodulating and the impact of powdery mildew.”
The importance of adequate nodulation in delivering nitrogen to cropping soils will be discussed at the field day by Dr Maarten Ryder from the University of Adelaide’s Nitrogen Fixation Program, which is supported by the GRDC.
Tackling herbicide resistance through driving down the weed seed bank at harvest will be another topic of considerable local relevance at the field day.
Mr Kuhlmann has recently invested in a chaff cart to assist in management of the weed seed bank and this piece of equipment will be on display.
“Maintaining grass weed control in crops is an ongoing and expensive issue and in a no-till farming system chemicals are the main method of control. But we can’t rely on chemicals alone, especially with the increasing levels of herbicide resistance,” Mr Kuhlmann said.
“Harvest weed seed management is an important method to assist in weed control and we will use a chaff cart this coming harvest to allow us to capture and destroy weed seeds.”
A restored two million litre water tank with a sheeted catchment will be another item of interest on the day.
Mr Kuhlmann and his staff have restored the old Government tank at Puntabie and are adding a plastic sheeted catchment to harvest the rain water.
“The catchment area is over one hectare and the main tank will hold almost two million litres. This will provide good quality water for spraying and stock,” he said.
The field day will begin at 1pm at sheds on Mr Kuhlmann’s property, located 1 kilometre north of Highway 1 at 42666 Eyre Highway or 39 km east of Ceduna. More information can be obtained from Mr Kuhlmann by phoning 0428 258032.
Meanwhile, local growers of legume crops and pastures are encouraged to enter this year’s “Show us Ya Nods” challenge, being conducted by FREE Eyre and supported by the GRDC, along with Agbyte and Profarmer Australia.
Initiated in 2015, the challenge sets out to find SA’s best nodulating legume crop or pasture and provides free, expert feedback from GRDC-funded researchers (including Dr Ryder) to all participants.
To enter the Show Us Ya Nods challenge, participants apply online at www.freeeyre.com.au and are then sent a competition instruction pack.
* SARDI is a division of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA).
Peter Kuhlmann, GRDC Southern Panel
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli