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APA 3. Stubble Retention the Key -Wood Case Study
15 Apr 2009
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3. Stubble Retention is Key – Wood Case Study

Stubble Retention is one component of zero tillage precision farming systems that is the key to moisture retention, improved soil biology, and improved soil carbon.

The Wood family farming operation first ventured into Precision Agriculture GPS technology in the mid 90’s, when they installed a free to air light bar system on their sprayrig. The environmental savings were immediate. They significantly reduced the amount of glyphosate in their first year of operating the technology.

It was at this time that they began moving into a minimum tillage farming system. In 2005 the enterprise purchased equipment to compliment the new Omni Star Autosteer system which took them into a one meter cropping system. It was at this time that they moved into zero-tillage controlled traffic farming.

Slide: What drove you to implement autosteer techonology?

Darren is quoted as saying, “Efficiency, fatigue management, it saves time and money, and its just that much better in every aspect really”.

Darren believes Stubble Retention is key to moisture retention. It is well documented that stubble retention improves infiltration via channelling, but the main effect is to reduce the rate of evaporation from the soil surface and to protect the soil surface from raindrop impact and erosion.

Darren also stated that the soil biology has improved significantly - some indicators being the noticeable increase in the presence of earth worms, and the softness of the soil.

The change from a multiple tillage system to minimum and now zero tillage has improved soil texture considerably.

Slide: Have you encountered any short falls with the Precision Farming System?

Darren is quoted as saying, “That’s where my control traffic system breaksdown”. Fleabane control has become an issue for the last two years with their farming program. The cost of treating Fleabane with chemical was becoming prohibitive and this year (2009) ploughing became a more cost effective method of control. However, Darren believes that the benefits are in the control trafficking rather than strictly the zero tillage, and consequently isn’t too concerned with having to resort to tillage to control the weed.

Thanks must got to all participants of the project.

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