AGRONOMY

Independence underpins out service and our advice and training is supported by evidence based science. Detailed agronomic planning and in-depth knowledge of what drives farm profit means improved profitability for our clients.

Our services is delivered with a big picture view. Care is taken to understand clients goals and preferences to ensure that advice and training are correctly targeted. Select the categories below for further details.

AN AGRONOMY SERVICE FOR YOUR FARM COULD BE AS FOLLOWS:

  1. Initial inspection – Soils, pastures, weeds, DSEs, KPIs

  2. Mapping – Paddocks (Ha & arable Ha), roads, weeds, water, etc

  3. Soil testing: Preparation of  lime / fertiliser programs

  4. Plan weed control, cropping and pasture programs

  5. Arrange contractors and liaise with farm owner / manager

  6. Ongoing supervision / reporting

Wheat Field

INDEPENDENCE & INTEGRITY

 

Soil management: Client are encouraged to understand their soils. This means identifying and dealing with key soil problems and avoiding poor soil management practices. Practices that encourage improved plant growth also produce more robust root systems and increase access to nutrient and soil water. We focus specifically on addressing key limitations to root growth and also on careful grazing management to ensure that crops and pastures can maintain healthy root systems. Both of these factors build soil carbon which is vital for resilient agricultural soils. 

 

Fertilisers and soil ameliorants (such as lime and  gypsum): All inputs are guided by soil testing. We offer a wide range of soil, water and plant tissue testing services through the Nutrient Advantage laboratory. Soil test results must guide decisions on products, rates, timing, etc, to get the best results for the least investment in a suitable time frame. Failure to address deficiencies can hold soils in an unproductive state leading to reduced production and returns for many years. Plant tissue tests are strategically used to allow fine tuning of fertiliser decisions. Saving a few dollars by not soil or plant tissue testing can prove to be very costly.

There are often several ways to correct nutrient deficiencies and soil chemistry problems. Products should be carefully selected to ensure that key issues are addressed. Many problem soils will have multiple issues that cannot be addressed at the same time. Interventions and inputs needs to be prioritized so that the best possible return to investment can be achieved at each step. Good decisions on correcting key issues early in an agronomy program should generate funds to address less important issues later.

Pasture improvement: When done properly, the transformation of run down pastures and whole farms, can be very impressive as well as profitable. Best practice involves one or more crops to control weeds and carefully planned correct lime and fertiliser inputs. Stocking rates can sometimes be raised by up to 400% with benefits lasting for several decades. Success requires good planning and execution and no step should be missed. Pasture establishment failures can be very costly and can cause significant delays in reaching carrying capacity targets. 

 

Cropping: Having up to 15% of the farm under crops (grazing only or dual purpose) on the Tablelands can dramatically improve farm carrying capacity and profitability, as well as reducing drought risks. Dual purpose winter cereal and canola crops are ideal to fill the winter feed gap. Forage brassica crops can provide outstanding summer/autumn feed for sheep. Annual ryegrass may be chosen for either high quality grazing or fodder conservation. Cleaning problem weeds out of paddocks before sowing perennial grass based pastures is also a significant benefit of a well managed cropping phase.

 

The ability to fatten young stock on crops through autumn, winter and spring can dramatically lift whole farm profitability in the cropping year. Some clients are moving towards a permanent cropping programs with canola included to allow more sustainable rotations. Returns from well managed dual purpose crops on suitable land can be many times what would be possible from grazing of the existing pastures. 

 

The flip side is that poorly planned and executed cropping programs will usually lose money. Getting it right means valuable grazing and profit as well as clean paddocks for sowing new pastures, leading to good returns from those pastures for many years. 

 

Weed management: Perennial weeds such as serrated tussock, fireweed, blackberry, Chilean needle grass or African lovegrass  can lead to dramatically reduced carrying capacity as well as land values if not controlled. Many farmers also struggle with annual weeds such as thistles, Paterson’s curse, barley grass (Hordium sp.) and silvergrass (Vulpia sp). If they can’t be eradicated, weeds can usually be managed so that their impact is minimized. Sometimes large scale weed problems have to be lived with as control is not a practical option. In many cases though, even the basics principles of weed control are not well understood. A critical factor in weed control success is starting early before a large seedbank accumulates. Other factors include ensuring adequate pasture competition and the correct timing of controls. It is important to fertilize pastures adequately as well as preventing overgrazing. Many herbicide options do not work on very large weeds which shows how important it is to be well informed. 

 

Grazing management: There is an old saying, “Grass grows grass”. What do you think that means? The green leaves of plants intercept sunlight allowing energy to be produced to allow the plant to grow. However plants that have been overgrazed intercept less sunlight as they have reduced leaf area. Continuous grazing allows animals to target the most nutritious plants and literally graze them to death. When plants are grazed hard they respond by shedding roots, a survival tactic to reduce energy use. Continually overgrazed plants will have small root systems, hence they will grow fewer leaves. Poor grazing management reduces farm carrying capacity, pasture persistence and financial returns from pasture investment. Rotational grazing practices can prevent overgrazing by allowing feed to accumulate in the paddocks ahead in the rotation. It can then be measured ensuring better grazing decisions; a practice called feed budgeting, putting the farmer in control of the grazing process.