Woorak-ees weed out victory

Yield and oil content from canola in response to nitrogen application at 'Warenda' in western Victoria

A STRONG weed management focus has helped a group based around Nhill, in the Wimmera area of western Victoria, to victory in the Victorian section of the national TOPCROP awards for 2001.

The Woorak Community Group took a close interest in weed management following a workshop involving weeds agronomist Michael Moerkerk, of the Victorian Institute of Dryland Agriculture, according to Victorian TOPCROP coordinator, Brooke Thompson.

Many in the group are looking closely at their rotations to facilitate weed management and have started to put together an integrated weed management strategy, Ms Thompson added.

Reality check on urea

The 42-member Woorak Community Group also participated in 2001 in the Victorian State TOPCROP Focus project aimed at finding the most profitable rate of urea to apply to canola. The results surprised grower Peter Schultz of 'Warenda', who was host to one of the canol a trials, because the higher rates of nitrogen didn't significantly increase yield or oil content. In fact, oil content was lower at the highest rates (see graph).

"We'd just be wasting money by putting on the higher rates of nitrogen," said Mr Schultz, who had been applying double the district average.

District practice vindicated

As a result of the trials, the group decided to continue with the district practice of 47 kg/ha, which also gave the best dollar return. The same trend was observed across the entire State-wide study.

According to Mr Schultz, the only visual difference between treatments wasin windrowing. "You could see that the bulk wasn't there in the treatments that had no nitrogen added," he said. "You couldn't even see any difference at flowering."

Other trials by the group included

  • a workshop on snail control; a study of controlled-traffic and minimum-tillage systems in NSW, which will result in local testing of these systems; and ongoing crop monitoring for crop establishment, nutrient requirements and disease levels
  • wheat variety trials and other trials and demonstrations involving fungicide and new insecticide applications.

According to Ms Thompson, the Woorak group formed in 1994 to bring the whole community together. As a strong and active community group which meets regularly to discuss agronomic and social issues, it has clearly been successful

Contact: Ms Brooke Thompson 0353622111 Mr Peter Schultz 03 5391 0240