Trials demonstrate manuring without the risk

The sheer size and scale of subsoil manuring can make the technology seem out of reach to many growers, but using small-scale test strips has helped growers observe its benefits at high-rainfall sites with subsoil issues. 

This has been the approach of Southern Farming Systems (SFS), which has used a two-metre-wide prototype machine, developed originally by Yaloak Estate, as the precursor to its current commercial machine.

SFS has test strips at research sites and in some growers’ paddocks near Westmere, Lake Bolac, Penshurst, Derrinallum, Winchelsea and Dookie in Victoria. Some sites have contributed data to the GRDC, La Trobe University and Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ subsoil manuring project (see Subsoil manuring drives up HRZ profits).

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SFS’s work is focusing on the interaction behind the yield responses – whether it is the tillage and soil disturbance or the added nutrient value in the organic matter that is providing the greatest benefit to soils.

Jon Midwood from SFS says test strips using the machine – which has manure in a hopper falling down by gravity via a shoot into soil – will be more widely distributed through the high-rainfall zone (HRZ) in the next few years, with work beginning immediately after harvest.

“There’s certainly plenty of interest from growers in the technology, which has emerged as a research and development priority for the HRZ,” he says. “There will be further work and trials with the existing prototype machine and development of a new prototype, allowing far greater use of more diverse sources of organic matter.”

He says the full list of SFS subsoil manuring trials is being finalised but will still include research sites and some private properties.

Photo of a subsoil manuring machine
Photo of a subsoil manuring machine
Photo of a subsoil manuring machine

The first commercial subsoil manuring machine was produced in 2012 in western Victoria and has completed about 100 hectares in 2013. It involves a six-metre bar and an air suction system to take manure from a trailer and deliver it via a series of hoses down into a ‘sowing’ boot, like an airseeder.

PHOTOS: Dr Renick Peries 

More information:

Southern Farming Systems,
03 5265 1666,
www.sfs.org.au

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 Subsoil manuring drives up HRZ profits

GRDC Project Code ULA00008

Region North, South, West