FARMING SYSTEMS: which is the best?

The farming 'Battle of Birchip' made headlines recently. Four main systems will be examined for their impact on seed bank, soil nutrients, moisture availability, disease levels and economic sustainability.

The project is in its preparation year, the first official year in 2000. In year one, all crops will be sown exactly to order (row spacing, fertiliser placement, etc.) according to the direction of each group. All the participants selected preparation crops to sow in their five one-hectare paddocks this year, allowing them to enter the first year with the appropriate stubble to go straight into their rotation.

The teams

The Fuel Burners, best-bet conservative management with fallow, selected three wheat paddocks and two fallow. The Hungry Sheep contingent, which combines high-intensity cropping and heavy stocking rates, decided to have two wheat paddocks and one each of lentils, medic and barley.

The Brim Technology Group, using the reduced-tillage system with high-intensity cropping with some grazing, will start off next year with two faba bean-stubble paddocks and one each of wheat, barley and lentils. Allan Postlethwaite's Zero Tillage system, with no sheep, no fallow and all cropping with wide rows and one-pass operations, has two wheat paddocks and three faba bean paddocks. All crops were sown on 13 May. Stay tuned!