AFTER some parts of the Eyre Peninsula had a whopping 300 millimetres of rain fall in just two days at the end of January, growers were faced with a devastating cleanup and the daunting task of planning this year's cropping program in a destroyed landscape.
Industry leaders knew that this was going to be an almighty mission for the region's farmers and held a series of workshops last week to help form strategies for managing and treating affected soils and farm planning for recovery.
The Cropping After The Storm workshops held at Kimba, Ungarra and Cowell brought together industry advisors to help reduce anxiety for farmers about getting the 2022 winter crop or pasture into the ground.
Speakers included PIRSA's Brett Masters, who discussed managing and treating eroded soils, as well as management plans and seep management options, while a multitude of speakers dug into storm recovery support such as the cleanup, self wellbeing and financial hardship support.
To provide growers with a first-hand account of what flood recovery looks like across a farm, Peter and Lena Daw, Ravensthorpe, WA, shared their journey following an eye-opening 300mm rainfall deluge.
The Daws mapped out zoning and fence management and how to navigate machinery through some pretty boggy soils.
EP Ag's Andrew Ware gave growers some additional hope about the season ahead and offered greater insight on how to capitalise on soil moisture.
GROWERS across the Eyre Peninsula can potentially make use of a full moisture profile in the season ahead, but it will take a fair bit of planning, clean-up, management and assessment to ensure the benefits come to fruition.
The scope of damage across the region was something not seen by most farmers in the district, according to EP Ag agronomist Andrew Ware, who spoke at a series of support workshops held last week.
"Some were saying it was a once-in-a-200-year disaster - particularly in the Kimba district," he said.
"Major watercourses and gullies were formed across the area and that was a scenario so many farmers had not seen before.
"The water destroyed fences and roads, paddocks were unrecognisable."
In response to the chaos that unfolded, Mr Ware presented the positives to growers to help ease some of the uncertainty about cropping season ahead.
"We wanted growers to know how to utilise the sudden increase in soil moisture," he said.
"It was designed to help growers work through some of the priorities between now and seeding - to get the best out of this year's crop and turn it into an opportunity."
Nitrogen management was a time sensitive issue and must be addressed Mr Ware said, urging growers to put aside nitrogen cost concerns and restore it.
"Fertiliser prices are through the roof but nitrogen has probably leeched - particularly in sandy soils," he said.
"It may need to be applied earlier to ensure it has returned to its beneficial levels before it is too late."
Mr Ware said growers needed to identify the soil type to begin, with as heavier soils would most likely have higher N.
"Reasonable organic carbon levels will allow for mineralisation to grow a larger crop without having to apply more N," he said.
Summer weeds also removed N, so management was crucial to reduce input costs.
Because of the drenching, Mr Ware said most paddocks would have up to 70 centimetres of soil moisture, which would help high salinity and boron levels in the soil profile.
"It will act as a bit of soil cleanser and this is a positive," he said.
"With 60cm or above of soil moisture, crops should yield about 1.5 tonnes a hectare - regardless of any additional rainfall this season."
In what has been an "overwhelming" experience for growers, Mr Ware urged producers to take the tips on board to help get through it, as many were set up for a pretty good season.
"They are almost assured a crop with increase the water availability to crops throughout the season," he said.
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