When a poor canola crop in 2010 left part of Wubin farmer Jeff Pearse’s paddock bare and windblown the young farmer turned to cereal rye.
“It’s all an experiment” says Jeff, but he is happy with the results so far. The cereal rye was first sown in 2011 and has been providing self sown ground cover ever since. “We wanted maximum ground cover for minimum cost” claims Jeff, “a wheat crop would have been a waste of money on this windblown sand”.
Jeff is a member of the Liebe Group, a local grower organisation which has assisted him in setting up a trial to see if a mouldboard plough has a use incorporating the rye stubble. The idea for cereal rye originated with a fellow Liebe member whom had had success rehabilitating wind eroded areas using the plant.
The cereal rye has a large fibrous root system which improves soil carbon as it breaks down. Now that the soil is increased in organic matter and is no longer windblown, Jeff is questioning what to do next. “The question now is how do I return the area to profitable cropping land?”
One idea is to return the cereal rye biomass to the soil by burying it via a mouldboard plough. Extra plant material in the soil will continue to break down and increase soil carbon. The Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Futures – Action on the Ground Program is funding the Liebe Group to trial this innovation. Initial results are very promising, Liebe researcher Nadine Hollamby observes “The plough buried the bulk of the cereal rye stubble and the new crop is growing extremely well”. The trial is mid way through its two year life. Results will be available at the end of the year.
For more information contact
The Liebe Group