Retaining soil water in farming systems using strip/disc machinery
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Retaining soil water in farming systems using strip/disc machinery
Lead organisation: Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula (AIREP)
Hub members and partners involved: South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group
Project Category: Hub Projects
Project summary: 

This project employs disc sowing systems and stripper fronts with the aim of retaining soil water (less soil and stubble disturbance, more stubble residue retained at harvest, greater rainfall infiltration) to increase resilience in dry conditions. Other potential benefits include increased harvest efficiency and improved timeliness of sowing.

Demonstration sites were established in low rainfall farming systems to determine:  

  1. Can we measure increased stored soil water in strip/disc vs conventional no-till knife point systems? 
  2. Are there other measurable benefits to the farming system, such as soil cover, nutrition, weeds, disease, yield or soil health measures? 

Key achievements and results: 

2023 demonstrations  

In 2023, three grower demonstration sites were established with two different stubble systems:

  • a stripper front stubble system using grower machinery
  • conventional harvest stubble implemented with the SARDI small plot harvester.

The dates of the conventional stubble implementation were Cleve (Bammann property) 28/03/3023, Buckleboo (Vandeleur property) 29/03/2023, and Minnipa (Oswald property) 06/04/2023.

Stubble cuts and stubble height were taken after the stubble treatments were implemented. Soil moisture measurements to 90 cm depth were taken pre-seeding. Spray cards to determine herbicide efficacy and spray coverage in different stubble systems were collected at seeding at Cleve and Buckleboo.

The Cleve site at Bammann’s was sown on 18/04/2023 with an NDF SA650 single shoot low disturbance disc system with 24.1 cm row spacing. The paddock with different stubble systems was sown to Hurricane lentils and the stubble was then either rolled or unrolled.  

The Buckleboo site at Vandeleur’s was sown on the 04/05/2023 with Ballista wheat @ 60 kg/ha with MAP (monoammonium phosphate) @ 60 kg/ha using a 60-foot John Deere 1890 ProSeries Opener disc seeding system with 19 cm spacing, and the MAC conventional 25.5 cm Harrington point seeding system.

Due to the later and dry seeding conditions (decile 2) at Minnipa, the Oswads decided not to sow the stripper and conventional stubble demonstration site with a cereal; instead, the paddock become a self-regenerating medic pasture. Information relevant to low-rainfall farming systems was still able to be collected with different stubble systems in the medic-based pasture. Half of the medic demonstration area has been fenced off to compare grazed and non-grazed stubble systems.

Visit the AIR EP website for more information.

Further information: