Reduce risks within stubbles

GETTING through thick stubbles may be a concern for some at seeding, but burning should only be used as a last resort, according to YP Ag agronomist Chris Davey, Kadina.

Mr Davey said graingrowers should be looking at their stubble management in the coming months if they believe their airseeders will not be able to handle the higher loads.

“If farmers think there’s no other way they can get through the stubble, they’ll want to leave burning as close as possible to this year’s seeding,” he said.

“This will reduce the possibility of soil erosion and maintain as much moisture as possible in the soil.”

In the meantime, barley and wheat stubbles could be rolled or slashed, he said.  

Mr Davey said growers could also sow at a slight angle to the 2016 stubble, or at right angles to last season’s stubble, which would help to minimise stubble blockages.

Mr Davey said snails and mice were the main pests plaguing growers at the moment, while millipedes, earwigs and slaters may also be problematic under the large stubble loads.

Diseases such as yellow leaf spot in wheat and net blotch in barley were also of concern.

Mr Davey suggested cultivation might be another way croppers could manage plant residues, but this also increased the risk of soil erosion and destroying the soil structure.  

Similar to burning, cultivation should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, he said.

Carr’s Seeds agronomist Denis Pedler, Port Lincoln, agreed, saying removing the organic matter would also burn valuable nitrogen and phosphorous that would be beneficial to future crops.

He said leaf disease was a big concern for those with stubbles.

He advised growers that planned to sow the same crops back-to-back to look at seed treatments and fungicides to reduce the risk.

“It depends on how they reapt the crop, for example with chaff carts or seed destructors – much of that is set in concrete after harvest,” he said.