Crop choice needs careful consideration after fire

Author: Alistair Lawson | Date: 23 Mar 2016

While pulses traditionally form a valuable part of the cropping rotation for growers in the lower north of South Australia, those affected by the Pinery fire in November last year are advised to be careful about what they sow into bare soil in 2016.

South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) research scientist Larn McMurray says getting good establishment with pulses is a critical part of managing the crop, which may be harder on burnt ground where there is no stubble and erosion risk is high.

“That is particularly the case for lentils, where research has shown they do better when inter-row sown into standing stubble compared with burnt or removed stubble treatments,” he says.

“If fire-affected growers are going to sow pulses on burnt ground, they need to make sure they are using good quality seed and sowing into good levels of moisture with good seed-soil contact to allow even and vigorous establishment.

“Avoiding herbicide damage from post-sowing pre-emergent sprays, which will slow up early establishment, will also be important. In some cases, there could be some merit in sowing a pulse with another crop to provide some early cover on the ground such as barley.

“That strategy needs some careful thinking and would need to be monitored well so the barley doesn’t become too competitive with the lentil crop.”

Mr McMurray says it is important to choose a vigorous variety if sowing lentils onto bare ground, such as PBA Blitz and PBA Jumbo 2, while less vigorous varieties such as Nipper and PBA Herald XT should be avoided.

Mr McMurray says pulses were particularly prone to sandblasting, which has the potential to kill or severely set back the crops as well as providing an entry point for disease.

His advice for growers planning to plant pulses in the fire zone is to consider soil types carefully.

“Each situation will be different,” he says. “Paddocks not prone to drifting which wet up well and are in a good state after emergency cultivation would be ideal.

“There could also be the need to change rotations up this year to account for the increased risk and perhaps plant more of the pulse area on unburnt ground where possible.”

SARDI is a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA.


More information

Larn McMurray,

Region South