Croppers ramp up spraying regimes

Croppers ramp up spraying regimes

Cropping
EASIER CONTROL: Mark Dolling, Kielpa, said spraying weeds had required less chemical this year than normal, as plants were small and fresh.

EASIER CONTROL: Mark Dolling, Kielpa, said spraying weeds had required less chemical this year than normal, as plants were small and fresh.

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While much-needed rain was welcomed across the state earlier this month, the falls have kickstarted weed growth, with spraying efforts increasing in order to conserve soil moisture.

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While much-needed rain was welcomed across the state earlier this month, the falls have kickstarted weed growth, with spraying efforts increasing in order to conserve soil moisture.

Cleve Rural Traders agronomist Jarrad Schiller said most croppers in his area had not sprayed during summer, until the rain fell.

"There were a few showers through harvest which caused a few weeds to germinate, but (before this rain event) there just wasn't enough rain to warrant a summer spray," he said.

Mr Schiller said rain in the region had been patchy - up to 80 millimetres of rain fell between Cowell and Cleve, while some areas near Kimba only received 6mm - but most croppers had started spraying soon after the rain.

"Farmers are spraying with normal chemical rates, all the smaller and fresher weeds will soak up glyphosate and get killed, if weeds are bigger or people get to them later, people might increase their rates a bit," he said.

We're able to scratch down and find moisture down deep, so we're already in a much better state this year than what we were this time last year. - MARK DOLLING

Elders Loxton agronomist Hope Perry said some farmers in the area had chosen to graze the weeds, but the majority of people were spraying, hoping to conserve soil moisture rather than prioritising ground cover to prevent soil drift.

"After the rain, people are a bit more positive about putting a crop in, otherwise they probably wouldn't be as worried (about weeds), if they were going to leave the ground in fallow," she said.

"Sales of chemical sprays have increased, and if the rain hadn't come, we wouldn't have seen as much need for chemical."

She said the rain was a reminder to not become complacent with spraying.

"Some farmers think if they don't have weeds they won't spray, but then they get a rainfall event like that and all of sudden they've lost control of everything, and have to spray anyway," she said.

In the Mid North, weed growth has increased significantly since the rain, according to AW Vater and Co's Sam Modra, Saddleworth.

"There weren't too many weeds coming up before the rain, a few spots here and there but there are certainly a lot more coming up now," he said.

He said melons, caltrop and African lovegrass were the most common weeds that had germinated.

"People over Eudunda way might try to hold onto the weeds a bit more, when there isn't that stubble on the ground, but around our area it's just about getting rid of the weeds and keeping the moisture," he said.

DOLLING DECREASES NEED FOR HERBICIDE

Mark Dolling, Uralba, Kielpa, said rain at the start of the month had been "perfect", having allowed for moisture levels at depth to be greatly improved.

"I'm delving at the moment, and three weeks after the rain, I'm still bringing up plenty of moisture," he said.

"We're able to scratch down and find moisture down deep, so we're already in a much better state this year than what we were this time last year."

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Mr Dolling, who crops 2000 hectares of wheat, barley, canola and lupins, completed his first summer spray a week ago, and used less chemical than in previous years.

"Sometimes you have a bit of weed germination already, you have some big weeds and then some little ones coming along and that's when you have to lift up your chemical rates, but this year, because it's been so dry, we haven't had that initial germination, so the weeds have all been little and fresh, and easier to kill," he said.

Caltrop, African lovegrass, potato weed and skeleton weed had been the main issues, but they had been effectively controlled with 2,4-D ester and Roundup.

VOLUNTEER CEREALS UTILISED IN MID NORTH

SHEEP SOLUTION: Eudunda farmer John Milde, on a barley stubble, has been quick to spray out weeds in the past few weeks, but has left volunteer cereals for stock grazing.

SHEEP SOLUTION: Eudunda farmer John Milde, on a barley stubble, has been quick to spray out weeds in the past few weeks, but has left volunteer cereals for stock grazing.

Eudunda farmer John Milde, Ellerina, said his paddocks had been "bone dry" before the rain earlier this month, with the falls helping to improve soil moisture leading into seeding.

"We got 30 millimetres of rain here, it was widespread north and east, but it was patchy, and a bit further west didn't get much at all," he said.

Mr Milde crops 800 hectares of wheat, barley, lentils and oaten hay, and said weeds had "taken off" since the rain.

"You want to get a bit of soil cover, but at the same time you don't want to let the summer weeds grow and rob all your soil moisture," he said.

Mr Milde also runs 600 Merino ewes, which he has grazed on some of the paddocks where weeds have grown, while other paddocks have been sprayed.

"I've been spraying out paddocks where I have caltrop issues, but in paddocks that are clear of weeds that I don't want, and instead just have a bit of volunteer cereal coming up that the sheep can eat, I just leave it there, and graze stock," he said.

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