Ben and Karli Findlay farm at Weatherboard, north-west of Ballarat, at an elevation of 400 to 700 metres in an area subject to cool conditions, high rainfall and wind. They grow wheat, canola and faba beans and graze first-cross breeding ewes.
We built a new airseeder machine and had to wait for parts, so seeding started later than usual in mid-April and finished in early May. We’ve sown 220 hectares of Pioneer 45Y95 Clearfield® canola, followed by 250ha of Big Red, RGT Accroc and RGT Cesario wheat varieties, and 40ha of PBA Bendoc Clearfield® faba beans.
Our winter grains program includes a paddock of RGT Cesario wheat that has been entered in the third year of the Hyper Yielding Crops (HYC) awards led by Field Applied Research Australia. It receives the same management as the rest of our wheat area.
Favourable conditions, sowing into a moist seed bed, have spurred successful crop germination and uniform establishment. But slug pressure was unusually high, so we had to apply bait to our canola paddocks four times. And, for the first time on our property, bait was applied to a wheat paddock to control slugs. Plus, we baited some paddocks to control rabbits.
We used a double-knock herbicide strategy, including an application of glyphosate five days before sowing, followed by a post-sowing, pre-emergent (PSPE) application of paraquat. Insecticides were combined with the PSPE spray, mainly targeting cockchafers, earwigs and redlegged earth mites.
We’ve spread sulfate of ammonia and nitrogen urea fertilisers on the soil surface to promote crop development before growth is potentially slowed by sub-zero temperatures, waterlogging, low solar radiation, high winds and snow.
We’ve also spread monoammonium phosphate (MAP) fertiliser using a fixed application rate on our entire cropping program, but we’re reviewing our grid soil sampling results to guide variable-rate fertiliser applications in the future. We’re now focused on crop monitoring, especially vegetative biomass in the canola, as well as crop nutrition and grain marketing.