Mallee farmer to reduce inputs with no-kill plan
EXPERIMENTAL farmer Brian Teakle uses his 1018-hectare property at Karoonda to trial different cropping methods.
At a recent field day, about 25 people toured Mr Teakle’s property looking at quandong and sandalwood plantations, shelter belts, remnant scrub, forage smorgasboards, saltbush trials, seed production areas, native pastures, biochar use and no-kill cropping sites.
Mr Teakle – in conjuction with the Murray Mallee Local Action Planning Association – is trialing no-kill cropping for the first time this year – a method that sows crops into among existing plant cover.
The method aims to provide additional winter and spring forage for grazing, and grain is only harvested when the opportunity arises.
The theory relies on the cereal having a greater growth rate than germinating annual weeds.
Mr Teakle said the practice was low cost through using less inputs, such as chemical and fertiliser. “If you use less inputs and you have a bad year, your losses are less, which reduces risk,” he said.
Mr Teakle said he was trialing the method in 14 different crops, which includes wheat, barley, oats, vetch, lupins, lentils, peas, triticale, lunch radish and rye corn.
“Despite extreme recent rain events, the crops have all germinated and look like they’re all going to run to head,” he said.
Mr Teakle said another aim of no-kill cropping was minimising soil disturbance, which included the use of sheep for weed control.
“You dry-seed in early April, and once you get germination, you put sheep in to graze it,” he said.
“The concept is to plant early when the paddock is bare, then seed, and when the first growth gets going, clean it up with sheep, and let it go. It may bare the crop down, but also the weeds.
“We hope after three or four years, the weeds will be under control.”
Mr Teakle said they were unable to run sheep this year, so the weeds did take over.
“But each species still germinated and grew,” he said.
“What yield we get is unknown, but at worst, we will have a good paddock of feed.”
Mr Teakle was also designing a machine that minimised soil disturbance during seeding.
“I have been building a machine for three years that uses Shearer double disc openers,” he said. “They offer the least amount of soil disturbance.”
Mr Teakle said they were aiming for a good ground cover of organic matter.
“If no-kill cropping works then you can have an organic farm, with no chemicals or fertiliser,” he said.