TOPCROP win 'holds water' for EP

Trevor Carter in field trials at Edlillie near Cummins, South Australia.

AN EYRE Peninsula farming group that combines the features of Landcare with best fanning practice in one project is South Australia's TOPCROP award winner.

Edillilie Landcare took out the award for its efforts to modify farming systems to increase productivity and water-use efficiency levels and to reduce leakage, recharge and salinity. With the support of the One Million Hectares project, Better Soils, PIRSA and local agribusiness, the group has concentrated trials at one 23-hectare paddock with soils representative of the local area.

The results of the group's shochu-quality barley trials have already shown the potential for lifting water-use efficiency to 80 per cent, which is possibly up to 20 per cent higher than district average for that crop. (The optimum range for shochu-quality is seen as 9-11.5 per cent protein.)

"The key message we got out of this particular trial was that we can improve our recharge management and grow a high-quality crop," says Group Chairman, Trevor Carter.

Apart from the control plot, aU the treatments produced malting barley that meets shochu specifications. In fact, any additional input improved grain quality, yields and profits (see table). "The ongoing challenge is that we have to adapt our crop management to minimise screenings," Mr Carter said.

He points out that the result could have been even better, had the trial not suffered wind damage just before harvest. Poor weed control, especially in the low seeding rate plot, also had a visible but unmeasured impact on yields.

Multi-tasking the paddock

Other trials at the focus site included the establishment of lucerne and phalaris as deep-rooted perennial pastures to provide fodder and dry out the soil profile; controlled-traffic farming aimed at improving soil structure; high input cropping; raised-bed farming to alleviate waterlogging; and subsoil modification to improve plant root penetration and plant growth.

"We also have summer crops including grain sorghum and forage sorghum at the site this year," said Mr Carter. ''These are the only green areas in sight now." Edillilie Landcare will continue these trials in 2002 and will provide further information at the group's field day in September.

Contact: Mr Trevor Carter 08 8676 4227

Results of shochu barley trial by Edillilie Landcare Group
TreatmentProtein%Screenings%GradeYield t/haGross return (a) $/haWUE%
Extra phosphorus (9 kg/ha)9.216.4SM14.1886380
Foliar fungicide (145 ml)9.412.2SMS4.1395579
Stirling (WA variety)10.48.4F1 (b)4.0068277
Foliar trace elements9.720.1SMl3.9583876
Impact in furrow9.217.7SMl3.8578874
Aphicide (125 ml)10.223.5SMl3.8381373
Soil applied trace elements9.419.6SM13.71773(c)71
High seeding rate (100 kg/ha)9.423,8SM13.5973069
Low seeding rate (60 kg/ha)9.938.4SM13.0057257

SMS shochu quality barley
SM1 Schooner malting (export quality)
F1 Feed quality (for export)

(a) Yield x price less treatment cost
(b) Stirling received only as feed in South Australia
(c) Cost of trace elements averaged over three years

Control: All plots were pre-drilled with 100 kg/ha of urea and sown with Schooner at 80 kg/ha and 80 kg/ha of DAP (64N, 16P) unless otherwise indicated.