• Loddon Herald

Canola grazing trials

GRAZING and fertiliser trials across the Loddon are mapping yield and dual use of canola crops.

Grazing and nitrogen canola trials across the Loddon are currently underway, exploring the ability to use canola as a dual purpose crop and understand yield impact.

Farm services consultant David Smyth is overseeing trials at Serpentine, Bridgewater, Derby and Newbridge for seed company Pioneer.

The Bridgewater and Serpentine sites were planted in March and April for grazing trials.

“The Bridgewater planting was about a month earlier than normal for grain crops in the area. The hybrid selected for both sites are suited to irrigation or high rainfall zones,” David said.

“The trial allows us to monitor grazing and the re-establishment of biomass and follow the crop through to grain harvest, to understand if there is a yield impact to grazing.

“At the moment, trials are showing that lambs on the grazed canola crops are gaining 300 grams a head each day.”

David said ewes and lambs had been used for grazing with indications they were better conditioned.

“And there’s then a flow-on with better lambing rates. It has been a real positive so far,” he said.

David said moisture and fertiliser application post-grazing was critical to re-establishing crop biomass.

“The Yield Max trial helps develop understanding of nitrogen requirements in the area to maximise yield and profit” he said.

“Some trials in South Australia and Western Australia has seen a lift in yield from around two tonnes a hectare up to more than three tonnes.

“Canola is a huge crop across the Loddon and from these trials we hope that the products that are always being refined by Pioneer are able to help local farmers improve yield and income.”

The benefits of late autumn/ early winter grazing are significant, but it is important to get early crop growth and re-growth following grazing, to ensure there is limited impact on crop yields.

“We’re into the third year of local trials and the results continue to show that using up to 300kg of urea in post-grazing treatment of the land is playing a key role in crop regrowth,”

David said.

“The positives are being seen that with the right timing and application, paddocks have time to re-establish and contribute to a decent yield of canola.”

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