Start with the harvester! This is the recommendation that eastern states farmers would give to growers looking at getting into controlled traffic farming. The lessons learn from our eastern states counterparts was just one of the topics covered at the combined Liebe Group/NACC field walk on 26th of September 2012. 50 people arrived on a windy day to explored soil pits and trials around the Buntine/Maya area.
The first half of the day revolved around soil compaction and controlled traffic farming. Andrew Whitlock, a precision agriculture consultant based in Victoria, explained there are a number of steps involved in getting into controlled traffic. The first step is to decide on an operating width (typically 9m or 12m). Then develop a machinery investment plan because the change to controlled traffic won’t happen overnight and it’s important not to overcapitalise. Glen Riethmuller of DAFWA has been keeping an eye on the new machinery releases on 3m centres. He found New Holland has a T9 670hp tractor with 36” wide ATI tracks.
Flexibility is the key to making controlled traffic system work on farm according to Maya farm manager Dave Jolly. Dave and the team at Elserae Agriculture have been using controlled traffic for many years and see benefits in fuel costs and soil compaction. They admit they system is not perfect for example at harvest the chaser bin ducks off the trameline to unload the harvester.
Four large soil pits were used to demonstrate compaction, effects of deep ripping, soil acidity and impacts mouldboard ploughing. The soils were skilfully explained by Steven Davies of DAFWA, Geraldton, Adriaan de Waal of Soil Fertility Management, Wongan Hills and Glenn McDonald of DAFWA, Katanning.
The wealth of information shared throughout the day was then debated over a BBQ dinner.
After event drinks were sponsored by Summit Fertiliser.
This event was a joint collaboration between NACC, DAFWA and the Liebe Group and was funded by the federal governments Caring for our Country initiative.