A Queensland grain and beef producer hopes to "crush" his herbicide and fuel consumption and improve the health of his soils with a novel modification to the chisel plough which forms a key part of his planting rig.
Peter Thompson from Echo Hills between Roma and Taroom has replaced the front two rows of cultivation sweeps on his 14.5-metre AFM chisel plough and replaced them with a line of seven roller crimpers.
Mr Thompson says the crimpers minimise soil disturbance while "hammering the buggery" out of weeds.
They also make the planting machinery, which includes a trailing Simplicity TR4500 two-bin airseeder, much easier and fuel-efficient to pull for his Case IH 550 QuadTrac tractor.
The back rows of the plough are sowing tynes fitted with PeterpoinT planting points which Mr Thompson invented and are now sold nationally with a launch planned for the US and Russia.
Gyral Agboss wavy coulters have been mounted directly in front of the planting tynes to help them get through any build-up of trash.
The modification of the chisel plough was a collaboration with Charlie Lange who runs Auscrimper with his father David near Dalby on the Darling Downs.
The pair finished setting up the plough a few weeks ago with Mr Thompson more than happy with trials so far.
He hopes the modified machine can successfully sow his winter and summer crops, which include wheat, oats, chickpeas and mung beans, with just one pass and virtually eliminate the need for further fallow cultivation and weed spraying on his cropping country.
The chevron-patterned crimpers, which Mr Thompson believes could be retrofitted to any machine, don't kill the weeds but crush them into pieces and slow their growth so the new crops can get out of the ground and away.
Mr Thompson and wife Nikki farm 8000 hectares across two adjoining properties including 2428ha of wilderness country which they want to preserve for future generations.
The new approach to planting and the way he thinks about weeds, many of which are seasonal plants and die off naturally, is part of an overall push to match his management decisions to better fit the natural capabilities and health of his land.
Part of that plan is to get away from using herbicides and fertilisers and focus more on the living microbes and carbon in the soil rather than what's growing and grazing on top of them.
"I have concerns that the whole Australian grain cropping sector is on an ever decreasing circle towards a big kick in the bum," he said.
The Thompsons crop around 1500 to 1700ha of winter crops along with mung beans and forage crops in summer while also running a beef herd of about 2000 head along with agistment cattle when seasons permit.
They have been drought-proofing their grazing operation by building a large hayshed along with two silage pits that can hold 2500 tonnes.
The properties are in a summer-dominant rainfall (660mm annually) and years ago they grew summer crops before deciding instead to store the moisture for winter crops.
Mr Thompson is wondering whether it would be more natural to grow crops when the rain is falling, particularly with wheat prices down to about $220 a tonne on-farm.
The Thompsons didn't sow any winter crops this year because of drought.
"I'd really like to get to the position of not using herbicides," he said.
"We have to listen to what consumers are saying and find ways to produce food that is acceptable "
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