Nematode-starving linseed ticks all the boxes

Three farmers standing in a field

(From left) Peter Jackson and sons Brad and Phil in a linseed crop on their farm near Gurley, New South Wales.

PHOTO: Nicole Baxter

 

Peter Jackson says linseed ticks all the boxes as a break crop on his family’s northern New South Wales grain farm. The enthusiastic grower, who farms at Gurley with his wife Janice and sons Brad and Phil, says although the primary reason for growing linseed is to drive down plant parasitic nematodes on their 1150-hectare farm, it has also proven a valuable cash crop.

The Jacksons started growing linseed three years ago after attending a GRDC Research Update at Goondiwindi, Queensland, where they learned the crop was resistant to Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus, which damage other plants’ roots and reduce yield. Research has shown P. thornei alone can cause yield losses of up to 70 per cent.

Before growing linseed, the Jacksons ran a wheat/barley/canola rotation, but PreDicta® B tests confirmed there were 17,000 P. thornei per kilogram in their black self-mulching clay soils after the cereal phase.

Peter says a single broadleaf crop had proven insufficient to reduce the population of parasitic root lesion nematodes. Consequently, he says roots were deprived of soil water and crop yields were suffering. However, before moving into linseed, Peter was careful to find a market for the grain and settled on a four-year supply arrangement with a buyer. The family’s commitment to the crop has delivered pleasing results. Over the past three years the Jacksons have averaged $800 per tonne. The 2014 season was a standout with prices at $1000/t, allowing the family to achieve a return of $1250/ha.

To prepare paddocks for linseed, the Jacksons drill anhydrous ammonia into the soil after 20 to 30 millimetres of rain has been recorded, usually after harvest. The family aims to plant Glenelg linseed into a weed-free seedbed at 35 to 40kg/ha. While conventional wisdom is to sow the seed shallow, Peter will, if needed, plant linseed into moisture, 112mm below the surface during the first week of May with 75 to 80kg/ha of monoammonium phosphate.

Before the canopy closes, Verdict® is applied to control weeds. If scouting reveals a second germination of wild oats, another dose is applied.

In 2014, after just 270mm of rain, Peter was amazed and very thankful to harvest 1.2t/ha of linseed over 260ha.

Importantly, growing linseed has also deprived the nematodes of a food source, reducing their impact on subsequent crops and enabling the family to harvest 2.7t/ha of wheat and 2.2t/ha of barley in 2014.

Although the Jacksons planted 300ha to linseed earlier this year, they expect prices to soften in the lead up to harvest as more growers have planted linseed in response to low returns for canola.

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