Preparing for another big year - Elders Rural Services

Preparing for another big year

South Australian farmer, Jamie Tiller has hopped straight out of the header and into the sprayer to stay in control of weeds, after harvesting some of the best crops in years.

Despite the late finish and numerous rain disruptions during harvest, Jamie and his family have been very pleased with their 2016 crops, with wheat and barley yields averaging 4.5 to 5 t/ha compared with 2.5 to 3 t/ha in a typical season.

Following just a few days’ break after harvest, Jamie’s focus has now turned to summer weed control to make sure the paddocks are clean and any remaining moisture is conserved to give this year’s crops the best possible start.

It’s a multi-faceted operation for Jamie, his brothers Shane and Matt, and their parents Maurice and Joy.

The Tillers farm several properties around Balaklava, producing wheat, barley, canola, field peas, chick peas, vetch and oaten hay over 4,000 hectares. The family also runs sheep as part of their fat lamb operation and operates two small feedlots turning off 500 Black Angus and Murray Grey cattle each year.

It’s a big operation, but Jamie is a firm believer in timely and effective weed control to stay on top of the job right from the start of the season.

That’s why he uses knockdown herbicides such as Nufarm’s weedmaster ARGO over summer to clean up after harvest and control volunteer cereals, melons and caltrop before switching to pre-emergent herbicides such as Avadex Xtra and TriflurX just ahead of seeding.

weedmaster ARGO is a high performing glyphosate with a built-in surfactant system that works well on tough weeds and gives fast brownout.

“We have a lot of sandy country so it’s important to stay on top of weeds to conserve moisture for the crops, especially after such a good season last year,” Jamie said.

With soils ranging from sandy loams to heavy red clays and black soils, the Tillers follow a wheat, barley and legume rotation to enable them to stay on top of problem weeds such as annual ryegrass and brome grass.

The rotation also enables them to rotate the herbicide chemistry they use in each crop phase.

Following the advice of their local Elders agronomist, Michael Brougham, Jamie has been using Avadex Xtra and TriflurX for the past five years.

“High rates of Avadex are suited to the dry light textured soils on the Tiller’s property and give us reliable results keeping rygrass numbers low” says Michael.

Michael says that having a proven and robust pre-emergent strategy is a crucial to prevent a blow out in Rygrass numbers, which can set farmers back massively and force the need to grow risky break crops more frequently.

“An important part of my role working with the Tillers’ is to understand the resistance levels of the weeds and what works best on the ryegrass in the area, crop, season and soil, as well as how to mix them up effectively,” says Michael.

“This combination ensures that we are able to achieve great crop results, minimal negative effects from rygrass, and ultimately improve bottom line.”

The tank mix has proven to be highly effective on annual ryegrass and safe to their 1000 hectare barley crops, particularly in sandy paddocks.

“If we do get moisture early in the season, we may come in with an early knockdown like glyphosate and follow up with another knockdown tank mixed with Avadex Xtra and TriflurX in front of the airseeder,” Jamie said.

“In our experience, the tank mix of Avadex Xtra and TriflurX is very safe to the crop and allows us to combat annual ryegrass, other grasses and wireweed, particularly in this second phase of the rotation after wheat.

“The two products also mix easily, so that saves time at seeding because we can be doing two jobs at once.”

Field research by John Both from Nufarm over the past seven years has confirmed farmer experience that tank mixing higher rates of Avadex Xtra at 2.4 L/ha with TriflurX gives far better control of herbicide resistant ryegrass and wild oats than lower rates. These higher rates also suppress brome grass.

In numerous trials, John has also found that Avadex Xtra mixes well with other pre-emergent herbicides such as Sakura, giving excellent control of ryegrass while enabling growers to use different chemical groups and help manage resistance.

With a big cropping program to manage, Jamie and his family have two Hardi self-propelled sprayers, including one of the first Rubicon 9000 L models in Australia, so they can cover their paddocks quickly and effectively.

“There’s a lot of moisture around, so we’re doing all we can to set up for another good year,” Jamie said.