Moisture retention and VRT paying off for Egans

Author: Natale Lee | Date: 10 Jan 2013

above image man standing between tractor and water tank

To improve their profitability and productivity, Scaddan growers Gavin and Elaine Egan pay keen attention to summer weed control and in recent seasons have introduced variable-rate technology (VRT) for application of inputs.

Details of their operational and long-term farming strategies are outlined in the latest edition of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) magazine Ground Cover.

The Egans farm two properties north of Esperance – 2000 hectares at Scaddan and 1610ha at Beaumont.

In preparation for the coming 2013 cropping season, Mr Egan sprayed out summer weeds before Christmas to help retain the moisture from 50mm of rain that fell in the weeks following the 2012 harvest.

He said rough trials they conducted a few years ago showed that about a third of the following crop yield was lost, if they delayed spraying summer weeds.

Following electromagnetic (EM) induction soil mapping in 2008 and 2009, the Egans have commenced variable fertiliser applications.

Mr Egan is impressed with the results, which he said had helped them save thousands of dollars in fertiliser costs and more effectively target their soil amelioration efforts.

For 2010 and 2011, the combined VRT phosphate saving was $31.35/ha.

“It might take half a day to set up the programming for variable fertiliser applications,” Mr Egan said.

“But if you set it all up before seeding begins, it only takes the driver two minutes – maybe less – to change to the right fertiliser program when he changes paddocks.”

In 2012, the Egans returned to a blanket rate in their fertiliser applications after a hailstorm at the end of 2011 wiped out most of their cereals, leaving little harvest data for the yield mapping on which VRT applications are based.

Depending on the final results of on-farm gypsum and lime trials at Scaddan, the Egans will also consider using variable application rates of gypsum and lime tailored to different soil types.

The January/February edition of Ground Cover will be delivered to growers in the second last week of January.

Growers can sign up for Ground Cover or download articles via the GRDC website at


PHOTO CAPTION: Scaddan grower Gavin Egan has used variable-rate application of inputs in recent seasons and is passionate about effective summer weed control to conserve all available soil water for the growing season. Photo by Nicole Baxter, Coretext.


Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
(08) 9864 2034, 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code COR00018

Region West