WEEDSMART DRY SEASON SPECIAL
Weeds are a constant factor in farming, regardless of the seasonal conditions. The lack of autumn rains in areas like the Eyre Peninsula in SA and no follow-up rain for dry sown crops in some Western Australian districts means there will be many crops with variable establishment and variable growth rates, making weed control more challenging.
Social media shows impact of 2017’s dry conditions
Twitter has provided stark visual examples of just how dry it is this season in some parts of the country. @ZimStead is an agronomist in Western Australia and recently shared the below two pictures taken a year apart from the same farm in North Tammin. The more lush picture was taken on June 1, 2016, and the second, showing the effects of dry conditions was taken on June 1, 2017.
Chaff lining – an effective tool
It’s understandable that in a dry year, grain growers staple the chequebook shut and stop spending money on their crops to keep costs down and minimise their loss. However, this can result in weeds setting seed in crop, which can quickly undo many years of hard work to erode weed seed banks.
Perhaps this may be the year for growers to consider adopting the simple, low-cost option chaff lining, to cost-effectively deal with weeds setting seed in these low yielding crops.
Chaff lining involves placing a chute on the rear of the harvester that concentrates the chaff only into a single line in the centre of the header. The straw is chopped and spread as usual. The idea is to drive the harvester on the same tracks for years to come, repeatedly placing chaff lines in the same place each year.
Growers using this practice find that these chaff lines are often a lot less weedy than they would expect and they believe that a lot of the weed seeds rot, however, unfortunately, we don’t have any data to confirm or deny this observation as yet.
There’s also the option to place a narrow windrow of all residue in the same place in a future crop which can be burnt to remove the chaff line and destroy surviving weed seeds. Our aim in a dry year should be to set ourselves up for success next year, and chaff lining could be a low cost, easy tool to put growers on the right track.
Join the conversation on Twitter by following @WeedSmartAU and using the hashtag #chaffline