Read time: 4 minutes

Stephen and Michelle Hatty, Matong NSW

Double breaks, crop competition and chaff decks

Farming in the Matong area, north-west of Wagga Wagga, Stephen and Michelle Hatty, along with Stephen’s father, Rodney, and son Joel have been building a robust continuous cropping program based on the stubble retention system started by Stephen’s parents in the 1960s.

The family now crops a total 2100 ha of land within an 11 km radius, on a very flat landscape with soils ranging from red loam to heavy red clay and self-mulching black clay. They adopted reduced tillage practices in the 1990s and now run a 12 m controlled traffic farming (CTF) system.



The Hatty family uses a double break crop sequence strategy of a pulse then canola, followed by wheat then barley to put firm downward pressure on the weed seed bank.

The very wet season in 2016 resulted in unavoidable soil compaction and weed escapes, which prompted Stephen and Michelle to upgrade from a tyne seeder on 333 mm rows to an NDF disc seeder on 250 mm rows. The seeder has worked well from the first season onwards with dry sown crops establishing uniformly since 2017.

We had been considering the change for a while as disc seeders work well in heavy clay soils, conserve more moisture and result in much less soil disturbance, says Stephen. We had been finding that even though the soil structure is quite good, the tyne seeder tended to bring clods to the surface when the soil is dry at the start of the canola seeding program in April.

It also gave us the opportunity to further increase crop competition with the narrower rows, he says. We also get better seedbed utilisation and can lift our planting rates to maximise yield.

Changing to a disc seeder gave the Hattys the opportunity to further increase crop competition with the narrower rows and lift their planting rates to maximise yield and optimise seedbed utilisation.

The Hattys use a double break crop sequence strategy of a pulse then canola, followed by wheat then barley to put firm downward pressure on the weed seed bank. Stephen says the pulse phase of faba beans, lentils or field peas helps improve subsoil moisture and soil nitrogen for the following canola crop. Pulses offer different chemistry options for grass weeds and even brown manuring if weed pressure is high.

For example, trifluralin is normally out for cereals but can be used after a pulse crop like faba beans that doesnt leave much cover on the paddock, he says. We also use water rates of 80 to 100 L/ha to maximise the effectiveness of pre-emergent herbicides in high stubble situations.

The Hattys are keen to host trials on their property where they are able to see first-hand the outcome of different agronomic options or crop performance. In 2017, they hosted NSW DPI trials looking at the competitive ability of Planet and La Trobe barley, with Planet being more prostrate in growth habit and La Trobe being very upright.

In 2017, they hosted NSW DPI trials looking at the competitive ability of Planet and La Trobe barley, with Planet being more prostrate in growth habit and La Trobe being very upright.

We sow all our crops early in their optimal sowing windows and try to take advantage of more competitive varieties to suppress weed growth, says Stephen. In dry conditions barley is a great option to reduce weeds, produce significantly higher grain yield and return more straw than wheat ahead of sowing a pulse crop.

In 2015 the Hattys added harvest weed seed control to the program. They chose to fit an Emar chaff deck system to their Case 8230 header and have been confining weed seed to the 3 m tramlines ever since.

Since adding an Emar chaff deck system to their Case 8230 header in 2015 the Hattys have slowed down the chaff deck conveyors and added a chopper to improve straw spreading.

We have slowed down the chaff deck conveyors and added a chopper to improve straw spreading, says Stephen. We had already been harvesting fairly low to suit the tyne seeder so there was no real change to the way we harvest. As time goes on we expect that less and less weed seed will be deposited each harvest resulting in fewer and fewer weeds growing on the tramlines.

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Ryegrass management in the High Rainfall Zone – What have we learnt?

This webinar was hosted by Jana Dixon, WeedSmart’s High Rainfall Zone extension agronomist.

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Rod Birch on how the Big 6 is keeping weeds at bay at Catalina Farms

Catalina Farms is approximately 13,000 ha of 100% cropping, with 65% wheat, with the other 35% comprising of 20% canola and 15% lupins. The longterm rainfall is about 330ml per year and around 250-280ml of growing season rainfall.
Taking on a new property usually has its challenges, but there can be upsides too. Some of the challenges at Koobabbie were related to the fact it had been a livestock property and cropping machinery had never having been run through it. However, Rod explained that they have had some great news about the herbicides they are able to use.
Through the University of Western Australia’s resistance testing service, run by Dr Roberto Busi at AHRI, they found out some older chemistries were still effective, which was a pleasant surprise. Daniel Birch explains below in the Regional Update Podcast what they found out and how they used this information in their planning.

Video breakdown

1:10 Crop rotations – Rod’s favourite rotation is Lupins – wheat – canola – wheat. It provides a lot of diversity for Modes of Action, as well as allows for nitrogen to go back into the soil through the lupin phase.
2:10 Crop Competition – the Birches are big fans of crop competition and it’s an essential part of their approach to controlling weeds.
3:00 Double knock – conditions haven’t been suitable for a double knock since 2016, but when the opportunity arises, it’s an important tool.
4:21 Mix and rotate herbicides – the crop rotations used at Catalina allow for really diverse chemical groups to be used, which is a great tactic to keep resistance at bay.
5:52 Stopping weed seed set – the Birches are trying to eliminate as many weeds in the crop as possible. Crop topping is a tool that they employ, as well as late spraying where necessary.
6:49 Harvest weed seed control – seed destruction is on the horizon at Catalina, but logistically has been a bit tricky.
7:21 Acquiring Koobabbie – it has been exciting for the Birches to be able to introduce more diverse rotations. They’ve been able to use Modes of Action which have never been used before.
9:48 Soil amelioration  – liming has been a really beneficial tool for Catalina Farms. They also put out pot ash and gypsum. Deep ripping has also been a great tool to remove the compaction layer.
11:29 Big 6 benefits  – controlling weeds is such an important strategy at Catalina Farms. Rod Birch said “We’ll never have a ceasefire on the war on weeds!”.

 

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WeedSmart Week Forum Day Videos

List of videos

Interviews with the Esperance Pioneers. Chair: Lisa Mayer, interviewing Neil Wandel & Theo Oorschot
Rotating buys you Time, mixing buys you shots
Efficacious use of the new pre-ems, Brent Pritchard
Delivering regionally focused research
Crop competition in wheat and canola, Hugh Beckie
Summer weed control
Strategies for control of ryegrass, marshmallow, fleabane, portulaca, Greg Warren
Farmer Experience
Rotations to stop seed set and preserve chemistry, Tom Longmire
Soil Amelioration, Tom Edwards
Crop competition: Reduced row spacing, higher seeding rates, east-west sowing, precision seed placement & competitive varieties, Theo Oorschot
Farmer Experience – Utilising crop competition strategies and the Big 6, Mic Fels
Weed control – farmer systems discussion panel – Chair: Peter Newman, with Mark Wandel and Laura Bennett
What’s next in spray technology? Andrew Messina
What’s next in spray technology 2? Guillaume Jourdain
Innovation Panel – Chair: Ben White, with Guillaume Jourdain, Andrew Messina
Stacking the Big 6 in farming systems in WA presented by Greg Condon, with Peter Newman

Video
Webinar

Ryegrass management in the High Rainfall Zone – What have we learnt?

This webinar was hosted by Jana Dixon, WeedSmart’s High Rainfall Zone extension agronomist.

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