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Ag News

Direct heading Canola taking off

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Dec 05, 2017

A significant number of canola growers in the central west of New South Wales have changed the way they harvest canola, according to early results from an on-going practice change survey.

The survey being conducted by the Grains Orana Alliance (GOA) showed more than 66 per cent of growers are now comfortable with direct heading canola crops, with more than 55 per cent of crops now direct harvested, rather than windrowed.

Developed to investigate practice change in canola harvest management and nutrition in the central west, the survey has now been expanded by GOA to include all interested New South Wales growers.

GOA is one of several Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) investments designed to deliver research and extension at a grassroots level, as well as provide critical information about regional production constraints and priorities.

GOA chief executive officer Maurie Street said the current survey was designed to give the GRDC and GOA an understanding of the on-farm impact of their research and the effectiveness of their information delivery to growers and advisors.

“The research GOA has conducted over the past eight years has showed clear yield and grain quality advantages from delaying windrowing, we have also found that canola is hugely response to nitrogen,” Mr Street said.

“As part of this survey we wanted to find out if this research has had an impact on how growers and advisors do things and early indicators overwhelmingly suggest it has.”

Mr Street said preliminary results showed growers were now direct harvesting more than 55 per cent of their canola crop, up from less than 10 per cent in 2007. Both growers and advisors also showed an improved understanding of crop maturity, and its importance for windrow timing.

“These early survey figures give us confidence that these important research results are reaching growers, for example more than 90 per cent of growers and 68 per cent of advisors now aim to windrow later than they did a decade ago,” Mr Street said,

“More specifically a key finding of our research shows 80 per cent of growers are now windrowing at more than 60 per cent seed colour change.”

Mr Street said this GOA and GRDC research, development and extension (RD&E) had also empowered growers to make changes to their nutrition management with 80 per cent reporting they were now applying more than 100 kg/hectare of urea (46 kg/ha nitrogen) up from 14 per cent 10 years ago.

“Close to 90 per cent of growers and advisors also believe that increasing nitrogen rates has increased their yields, with the majority estimating that increase at 10 per cent or better,” he said.

“Overall the feedback we have had from the majority of growers and advisors through the survey is this research has helped them evolve their farm practices to manage a range of challenges and given them confidence to make major practice changes.”

Mr Street said the survey had initially been sent to some growers and advisors in a region extending from Forbes in the south to Coonamble in the north, and east to the Coolah/Merriwa region and west to Nyngan.

However he said it was now open to grain growers and advisors across NSW.

“This is an important opportunity to improve our understanding of how growers and advisors are approaching canola harvest management and crop nutrition and help us assess and identify how we can do a better job delivering research information,” Mr Street said.

“Ultimately we have the same goal as the growers and advisors we work on behalf of, we want to improve on-farm profitability for those in the grains’ industry.“