Has the adoption of the Seed Terminator changed your spraying program, as in the past the wheels of your sprayer would have been running on your high traffic run lines with the chaff mat acting as a dust abatement?
Going from putting chaff back on the Controlled Traffic Farming Trams with chaff decks and using the chaff for a dust abatement during the summer spray application, then going to Seed Terminators where we are spreading the chaff load across the cut width. We are seeing a minimal amount of change as the new sprayers are being offered with new tire technology and sizes, therefore we’ve gone with the 420 tires on both new sprayers, whereas before they were on 480’s. Reducing the footprint which in turn reduces the amount of soil disturbance equaling less dust circulation. In addition that if we had to do a double knock with dry conditions we can always perform the first spray on the high traffic run lines that we normally would spray on, while shifting to a low traffic run line to perform the second pass again reducing the amount of dust
Do you feel that reducing weed seeds, harvest losses / volunteers retained your soil moisture this year?
We've had no moisture anyway! It definitely helps, the summer weed pressures aren't there; no broadies, turnips, we don’t have radish, certainly controls all those summer weed volunteers. Doesn’t control melons, we haven't worked out how to put them through the Terminator yet.
How has this affected the time taken to clean up your new blocks?
It's certainly speeded up the cleanup process, we’ve been able to get two controls in one year. Just having that second Harvest control is certainly a win win.
How has the Terminator affected your harvester setup?
With the newer header and new mills, never really affected us at all. Plenty of horsepower and the mill screens being opened up certainly reduced the horsepower significantly, less wear and still getting the maximum kill.
Would you say the Seed Terminator is proof in the paddock
Yes, we have no ryegrass in header trails anymore, so what is going through the machine is definitely controlled. It will just be the hard seed that will take 4-5 years to try and combat, but were slowly getting on top of it.
Is there anything else that is ST pro & cons?
It's definitely a cheap alternative for controlling ryegrass when chemicals are costing $35-40/ha. I believe it's paid for itself in 2 years and it's certainly a very handy tool to control the weed seeds.
Looking at cost of operation and cost of the Seed Terminator, what are you putting that back to harvester maintenance or sprayers?
Both, our running cost on wear and tear $4.50/ha that's to replace every mill, every screen, and throughout the year. Fuel usage is only a couple bucks a ha, it's not slowing us down, only need to do one less spraying operation and were already $5/ha in front and that goes towards the capital of the machine itself.
Can you give us a rundown on the farm's history?
Mum and Dad were from Balaklava SA, they were looking to expand and came to look at the Wyalkatchem area in 1968. They purchased ‘Baladeen’ and moved over in 1969. I came back from Uni in 1992 and still live on the home farm with my wife and two boys aged 8 and 9. We started out with clover pastures and ran sheep with cropping, but now 100% cropping. Our country is very sandy and we have issues with erosion so are moving to CTF and using deep ripping. Being a sandy farm, potassium and nitrogen are the big factors so we need to retain the stubble where we can.
What HWSC methods have you used previously?
We did chaff carts back in the 2000's for about 5 years, and then windrow burning after that, we were considering going back to chaff carts but were given the opportunity to join the 2017 Farmer Research Partner Group with Seed Terminator. There was lots of talk in WA in 2017 after their 2016 run; we discussed it with our consultants who had ties with Chris Robinson from Kojonup Farmanco and made contact with Andrew Todd who is one of the 2016 pioneers and then put in an application online.
How did MY17 and MY18 compare?
2017 was our first year with the Seed Terminator, we had it on our Case 7230 and it was pretty much running at 100% engine load all the time. We changed over to a new Case 7240 halfway through the 2018 harvest and the new machine did about 100 hours with the Seed Terminator. The 7230 needed replacing, it wasn’t a decision based purely around the Seed Terminator but for CTF reasons as well. I definitely noticed the reduction in power on the old header, and with the new header, I didn’t even notice it was on the back. The power draw is down and even after 350 hours cutting at around beer can height or lower the screens are still good to go. The new header with MY18 version was running at 80-90% engine load and even pushing into some really good crop, going uphill, in deep ripped country with huge straw loads it was no worries at all.
Any particular challenges this season?
I was worried about a new machine going into harvest and worried about wear and extra engine load, (the main issues we had in 2017), but Nick has certainly sorted those things out. We had more straw going through the machine, but no real challenges, it came off beautifully. It was a good season for us this year, best tonnage we've ever had, I certainly can't complain.
What has not burning meant for your operation?
The biggest plus has been being about to do other operations in February and March; liming and ripping are two big jobs that you can concentrate on rather than splitting time between those and burning as well. It's hard to work out exactly, but it saves our operation a good couple of weeks; two people, two utes, we’d concentrate mainly on wheat stubbles, but occasional canola and barley as well. Burning seemed to drag on for weeks and weeks, its a lot of hours and a few thousand dollars, maybe $5000, but burning into the evenings, doing odd hours, it's just a stressful job. Chaff carts were worse as they'd burn for 3-4 days and cause escape fires and were overall more stressful than windrow burning. We cleaned things up pretty well in 5 years and then thought it was a good time to get out of it.
Have you tested for Herbicide Resistance on your property?
Our herbicide resistance test hasn't come back yet, we did our first one at harvest time this year. There was quite a bit of ryegrass this year as everything went into dry and then everything came up at the same time with the rain. We’ve definitely noticed were having to use bigger and bigger rates of chemicals to keep on top of ryegrass. The Seed Terminator is just another tool for weed management, I hope we see a reduction in the seed bank over the next three years.
What do you see as the future of this technology?
The future is exciting. We don’t see the concept changing much, however we see wearing parts lasting longer and the power consumption becoming less.
^ Nick Berry, Jamie Slarke , Harry Slarke and Kim Slarke checking out the Seed Terminator
I’m off a family farm in South West Victoria; it’s a mixed farming enterprise comprising of cropping (mixed cereal and pulses), fine wool and prime lambs. I undertook my undergraduate degree at the University of Tasmania in Hobart on a full scholarship, it was a fantastic opportunity to be exposure to such diverse agricultural production; and during my honours year I investigated the impact of herbicide residues in poppies. My passion for research into herbicide resistance continued to grow and after finishing university I started a job with SARDI working in cereal, pulse and canola herbicide tolerance. I am currently undertaking a PhD and my research is aimed at providing a better understanding of resistance development in L. rigidum to pre-emergent herbicides in the Group J (thiocarbamates) family. This also includes management strategies for grower implementation. I was fortunate to make the discovery and publish a scientific paper ‘Resistance to multiple PRE herbicides in a field-evolved rigid ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) population’. Being supervised by three highly respected experts in this field Chris Preston, Gerjeet Gill and Peter Boutsalis at the University of Adelaide’s Weed Science Research Group, has been an incredible experience and privilege.
In laymen's terms, what did your research find?
A population of ryegrass from a paddock on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia is confirmed resistant to all of the pre-emergent herbicides, Avadex, Arcade, Trifluralin, Propyzamide, Sakura, EPTC and Thiobencarb. This study documented the first case of field-evolved resistance to thiocarbamate herbicides in ryegrass.
In non laymen's terms: A population of rigid ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaudin) from a field on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, was suspected of resistance to thiocarbamate herbicides. Dose–response studies were conducted on this population (EP162) and two susceptible populations (SLR4 and VLR1). The resistant population exhibited cross-resistance to triallate, prosulfocarb, EPTC, and thiobencarb with higher LD50 to triallate (14.9-fold), prosulfocarb (9.4-fold), EPTC (9.7-fold), and thiobencarb (13.6-fold) compared with the susceptible populations SLR4 and VLR1. The resistant population also displayed resistance to trifluralin, pyroxasulfone, and propyzamide. The LD50 of the resistant population was higher for trifluralin (13.8-fold), pyroxasulfone (8.1-fold), and propyzamide (2.7-fold) compared with the susceptible populations. This study documents the first case of field-evolved resistance to thiocarbamate herbicides in L. rigidum.
Associate Professor Chris Preston, Geoff Philips, Dr Nick Berry, Associate Professor Gurjeet Gill, PhD Candidate David Brunton, Graduate engineer Keagan Grant
What is the problem with the herbicides, why are weeds becoming resistant so quickly?
We’ve spent the past 20-30 years using herbicides to control weeds and it's going to take considerably longer to undo. We know ryegrass is exceptional at evolving resistance to herbicides, but to do it in such a short space of time - wow. We have selected through herbicides, weed species that have the capacity to survive these applications. Widespread resistance to post-emergent group A and B and pre-emergents herbicides such as trifluralin is well known due to repeat use over many years. However, of greatest concern is resistance evolution to newer chemistries such as Boxer Gold, Arcade and more recently Sakura. Adoption of non-herbicidal weed control strategies remains low. Herbicides still remain the most cost effective weed control method and as a result resistance continues to evolve.
What is driving the rise in Herbicide Resistance we’re seeing?
History of herbicide use plays a major role but a reluctance by industry to readily adopt non-herbicidal weed control tactics has been a major driver of resistance evolution. Currently it seems when one herbicide fails, we go to the next and new herbicide modes of action are becoming less common. We’re not the only ones to have found herbicide resistance, in northern NSW and Queensland there have been new cases of glyphosate resistance in sowthistle, fleabane, feathertop rhodes grass and ryegrass; it seems to be a daily occurrence now. Getting industry excited about new methods of weed control is important. It will be necessary to incorporate non-herbicidal methods in combination with herbicides. Doing so will aid in prolonging the use of this precious resource.
What does your research mean for Australian Farmers in practical terms?
Herbicide resistance is a major threat to cropping systems worldwide. Many herbicides previously used for weed control, have failed or are failing to provide adequate control of major grass and broadleaf weeds. Annual ryegrass is one of these problematic weed species, which has developed resistance to a number of pre and post-emergent herbicides, across multiple herbicide groups (modes of action). The current story of herbicide rotation has clearly been demonstrated as a non-sustainable long-term tactic. Incorporating non-herbicidal methods of weed control in combination with strategic herbicide use is fundamentally the way forward.
How important is harvester setup for HWSC?
Harvester setup is the biggest thing to get your head around. If you can comfortably harvest with 2 headers, you may need to consider 3 if you want to do HWSC properly. We slow right down, for example, in bulky crops to allow the straw to process and in some conditions, you just have to stop and move to a different paddock. We are introducing windrowing this harvest to try and get the weeds while they are green before they've set, to reduce the losses at the cutter bar.
You've decided to upgrade your MY17 Seed Terminator, what influenced this decision?
We would've held off on the upgrade kit if it wasn't for the wear package released with the MY18 Seed Terminator. We're hoping to have fewer constraints from weed pressure, free up our rotations and increase profit margins.
What do you see as the future of this technology?
New chemicals aren't being developed, just different modes of action and we are running out of options pretty quickly. Harvest to harvest, all year round we have to be conscious of weed management; combining chemicals just isn't enough, weeds are developing herbicide resistance quickly. If they ban glyphosate, and one day it may happen, I estimate 60% of farmers within our local shire wouldn't be able to crop. We've all been looking for something mechanical for a long time. I think the mill technology needs to be introduced to all headers, across all farms, its a good move for Australian Agriculture.
For our dual enterprise that extra month of feed is worthwhile, but we might do better crops with the residue retention. If we ran a Seed Terminator it would certainly be harder with the livestock side of things unless of course Kikuyu and all those other summer feeds kick in. If we were 100% crop we would certainly have a Seed Terminator, but with the integration and the synergies of our dual enterprises a chaff cart is a better fit.
Has the chaff cart improved the weed burden in the three years you've been using it?
I can see areas that have been bad, that are now ok, but if we have a non competition year from getting too wet and the crop fails, then the weeds tend to build up quickly. Its up to us to perhaps spray top them in that situation to die it down. but when your collecting the weeds, then killing the weed seed with the sheep and then having a competitive crop its been working really well. I don't think we'd be able to do continuous crop like we've done for 22 years without it. We've only burnt a some paddocks couple of years in that time. Returning residues to the ground is really good, avoiding burning and keeping our reliance off the chemicals.
What crop rotations have you used in the past? How important is the combination of crop rotation, chemicals and HWSC?
In the early days we rotated lupins, wheat and canola. Lupins were ok where they grew really well, but you'd have anywhere from 10% to 50% of the paddock not survive the winter, so all of a sudden every time you grew lupins you would more than quadruple your weeds, especially rye grass. After that we tried rotating just canola and wheat following the dollars, we wanted a legume but didn't know of any that would work well in our environment, other than pasture, but then a couple of growers on the Island brought in broad beans which worked really well. Broad beans built up our rotation and compete fairly well with the weeds. Having three reasonably competitive crops, in addition to the chemical regime, and the collection of seeds with the chaff cart, we feel we can keep going and not have to give up on farming.
Nick Berry (left) with his mum and dad Lloyd & Christine Berry on the family farm.