Shift in mindset needed to get yield results

Shift in mindset needed to get yield results


Cropping
EMERGING CROPS: Brett Gilbertson, Rendelsham, in the trial site with mid-April sown wheat. He says last year's trial results helped convince him to try Accroc himself.

EMERGING CROPS: Brett Gilbertson, Rendelsham, in the trial site with mid-April sown wheat. He says last year's trial results helped convince him to try Accroc himself.

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A SIGNIFICANT shift in mindset - and sowing times - may hold the key to achieving a yield goal for a South East grower.

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A SIGNIFICANT shift in mindset - and sowing times - may hold the key to achieving a yield goal for a South East grower.

Brett Gilbertson, Rendelsham, is aiming to produce a 12 tonne a hectare crop but so far has topped out at 11.5t/ha.

"We're setting them up properly, but frosts have touched us up," he said.

To boost his yields, Mr Gilbertson is taking inspiration from New Zealand and Europe, coupled with local data from year one of the SA Crop Technology Centre, and has sown European long-season variety Accroc.

He is one of a group of SE farmers who have banded together to help boost crop results in their high-rainfall area.

He is hosting the SA Crop Technology Centre this year, after his neighbour hosted it last year.

He was one of a group of local growers heading to Tas to view its hyper-yielding trial site and was a keen supporter of developing a local trial.

Mr Gilbertson said more than one year's data would be needed to make major changes but already farmers, including him, were seeing opportunities.

"More and more farmers are taking on information from the site," Mr Gilbertson said.

"Having the site down here and being able to relay what we can do has really sparked an interest."

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But he has tried one new technique already.

He said one of the "biggest things to get my head around" was the seeding time.

He sowed the crop in early May and will not seed the remainder of his Trojan wheat crop until the second week in June, to ensure it does not flower before frost-prone October.

"It's almost an education program to sow early, seeings as long season varieties are probably the way we have to go to get those very high yields," he said.

He said this provided a potential clash with his livestock operation.

"We're all busy doing other things at that time, such as scanning ewes, feeding stock and finishing lambs," he said.

"I'm used to getting that done and out of the way before sowing but yield and profit will change our mindset rapidly."

Mr Gilbertson said there were also pay-offs with the dual-purpose Accroc.

"Last year they replicated grazing in the trial site and they were some of the highest-yielding crops," he said.

"That pricks the ears up of people in the area, when realising they can do dual-purpose and still get high yields."

It's almost an education program to sow early, seeings as long season varieties are probably the way we have to go to get those very high yields. - BRETT GILBERTSON

Mr Gilbertson said grazing Accroc in July/August worked in with his system.

"Our ewes would have lambed by then and any rest we can give our pastures is very important," he said.

The crop would then be harvested in January.

Mr Gilbertson said the earlier sowing time of Accroc halved the available weed management tools.

"When we sow in the second week of June, we can get very good knockdown of weeds, so we can control weeds prior to germination," he said.

"Sowing prior to the break or at the break of the season, we've got to rely on in-crop weed control."

Mr Gilbertson crops about 1620ha, split between broadbeans, canola and cereals, alongside lambing about 6500 ewes and about 200 cows.

He is also trying new techniques to push his canola yields further.

Last year he applied more urea, earlier, to encourage foliage growth pre-flowering, and the results have encouraged him to try again.

The Gilbertsons, including Brett's wife Melinda, and children Tom, Emily, Hannah and Daisy, store all grain on-farm and sell directly into the dairy and piggery feed markets in Mount Gambier and western Vic, with the balance sold to grain handlers.

"We're trying to get price premiums," Mr Gilbertson said.

"We usually aim for winter premium - this isn't the year for that, the price premium was at harvest, but in the past the system has paid for itself."

He said the desire to chase high yields was a family tradition with the local newspaper recently reprinting a story from 1969 that showed his father and uncle growing a record-breaking crop for the district.

"It's a generational thing to try to push the envelope," he said.

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