Southern NSW grain grower Daniel Fox (pictured) will open his Marrar property to visitors as part of WeedSmart Week in Wagga Wagga in August.
Southern New South Wales grain grower Daniel Fox’s property north of Marrar has undergone significant change in recent years, moving from a mixed farming enterprise to a full cropping program.
This change prompted intense scrutiny of the operation’s approach to weed management to ensure that the control of hard-to-kill weeds is effective, affordable and achievable in the long term.
The 5th generation grower, who works the 2000 hectare property with his mother, father and grandfather attended the inaugural WeedSmart week in Western Australia last year, an industry-owned initiative committed to delivering practical, researched information that promotes the use of multiple on-farm management tools to encourage ‘more crop, less weeds’ and keeps herbicides working for the long-term.
This year he will host a farm visit when WeedSmart week comes to Wagga Wagga in NSW. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) are major investors in the project with corporate support from Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), Bayer Crop Science, Monsanto, Nufarm, Sinochem, Syngenta, BASF, Gentech Seeds/Pioneer and Dow Agrosciences.
Mr Fox said their weed control program aimed to make the cropping program work more efficiently, boost yield and improve the business’ bottom line, and WeedSmart week would help demonstrate ways to achieve an effective control program.
“In the past couple of years we have been working towards a full 12 metre 3:1 controlled traffic system, which is almost complete with a new disc system implemented recently,” Mr Fox said.
“We focus on having a four-year rotation of pulse crop, canola and then two cereal crops. This allows for a double break to target both grass and broadleaf weeds which benefits each of the following crops.
“The pulse crop means I can utilise Factor to take the pressure off clethodim for grass weed control, and I can also crop-top with Gramoxone to minimise the weed seed set.”
Mr Fox said this strategy had been successful in bringing problematic ryegrass paddocks back to being clean at the end of the rotation, particularly when combined with narrow windrow burning.
“By following the pulse crop with canola, we get better establishment in the canola due to reduced residue loads and can utilise the residual nitrogen for the crop needing that higher nitrogen input,” he said.
“This year we sowed the crop with a new Excel single disc on 166mm (6.5”) row spacings to improve crop competition and yields. We have also recently bought a Shelbourne stripper front which we trialled last harvest with a chaff lining chute fitted to the harvester.
“We found we were still able to collect a large proportion of weed seeds concentrated in a narrow chaff row between tramlines, without having to take all the straw into the harvester.
“So now we will replace narrow windrow burning with chaff lining, giving us the opportunity to double knock any survivors from in-crop herbicides, including crop topping in the canola and pulse phase.”
The three-day event in Wagga Wagga will start with a practical information forum on August 21, followed by two-days of farm visits, including to the Fox’s property, where growers and agronomists can see firsthand different approaches to weed management.
The one-day forum will offer insights into which herbicides are still effective in the region, what growers need to do to preserve herbicide life, and different tactics for beating weeds such as crop competition, narrow row spacing, crop rotation and harvest weed seed control measures.