Record yields mark new era for cropping outpost

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Gavin ‘Bill’ Burey and his son Dain at the Muckadilla storage Gavin bought from GrainCorp in 2017.

PHOTO: Liz Wells

The adoption of new wheat varieties and updated cropping machinery are pushing yields to unprecedented highs on Gavin Burey’s property at Amby, on the western edge of Queensland’s grain-growing area, in the Maranoa district.

Helped by the kindest of seasons in 2015 and 2016, the self-mulching soils produced yields of more than four tonnes a hectare, up from what Gavin says is a long-term average of 1.5t/ha.

A key driver of the change has been a 20-metre Boss Agriculture planter, which was bought in 2015 and has enabled deeper sowing of wheat and chickpeas.

“With the new planter, I was able to plant chickpeas and wheat at 200 millimetres, which is 50mm deeper than I could get with the previous planter,” Gavin says.

“What has made a big difference is the use of delves – scarifier points we bolt onto the shanks when we are planting wheat to throw dirt out of the furrow, so the seed actually only has about 50mm of soil on top.”

The new set-up means wheat can quickly get its roots down into subsoil moisture and benefit from the fertiliser put out at planting.

Gavin believes urea, which the planter broadcasts via chutes ahead of the planting tynes, is giving wheat crops the nutrition they need to maximise yield potential.

“At planting, and depending on soil moisture, we’re putting Granulock Starter Z on at 40 to 50 kilograms per hectare, and then 80 to 100kg/ha of urea out front.

“That works well; our only other alternative for getting urea on at planting would be an offset tyne attached to the existing tyne, but that would have killed our trash clearance.”

The planter is coupled with a 12,000-litre triple-box Simplicity seed cart, chosen because it can carry seed, starter fertiliser and urea for a one-pass operation. Gavin says urea should ideally be applied in February with the idea that rain will carry it into the profile, but uncertainty about when, or even if, that rain will arrive makes spreading at planting a better investment.

While in-crop rain in the 2017 growing season was low, Gavin achieved yields of 1.4t/ha for wheat and 0.5t/ha for chickpeas thanks to the new planting system being able to place seed on top of subsoil moisture deposited by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in late March.

To make the most of available soil moisture for subsequent winter crops, dual wheels are to be fitted to the 500-horsepower Case tractor. “That will give us better traction to get that planting depth we want,” Gavin says.

Gavin sees a big future for stored grain to meet stockfeed demand within the Maranoa district. Last year he bought the Muckadilla receival site from GrainCorp and hopes to fill the facility’s twin silos and shed with grain from his own and other growers’ grain.

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