It is well understood that good crop establishment favours the potential of a high yielding crop and contributes to a competitive environment for weeds.
In the new GRDC investment ‘optimising plant establishment, density and spacings to maximise crop yield and profit in the southern and western regions’, the opportunities of precision planting and the potential gains by improving conventional seeders is under investigation. A precision planter differs to conventional air seeding systems in that it has a rate meter on every shoot that allows one seed to be released at a time (singulation).
Precision planters are more commonly used in summer crops and are still being fine-tuned for small seeded crops, thus the need for the research in the southern grains environment.
There is a growing interest in the potential of precision planting to both reduce variation in seeding depths, ensure even spaces between small seeds, improve seeding rate accuracy and reduce seed costs in crops such as hybrid canola, given the higher seed cost.
The aim of the five-year project across the states is to understand crop establishment, plant density and row spacings to maximise canola and pulse yield and profit in the southern region, while canola and wheat will be the crops explored in the western region.
BCG will be managing two precision planting trials in 2018. The first trial includes the use of a precision plot planter built by Boort local Steve Lanyon of Spot on Ag.
This trial will compare the new precision (singulation) seeder and a cone seeder, two different row spacings (nine inch and 12 inch) and six plant densities.
A large farmer-scale demonstration comparison of different systems to evaluate crop emergence will be carried out in the Wimmera.
The final component of this project includes surveying 200 paddocks, 100 in the GRDC western region and 100 in the southern region.
There will be a presentation on this research at the BCG Main Field Day on September 12 at Narraport.