Agriculture

You are here:

The Holbrook area is situated in the high rainfall zone (+600mm) of southern NSW, with predominantly mixed farming enterprises. The farming operations in the area include wool, lamb, beef cattle, wheat and other grains and pasture seed.

Weather Stations & Soil Moisture Probes
  1. Weather Station & Soil Moisture Probe update 2019
    1. Holbrook Landcare has installed 3 weather stations in the area with the purpose of providing land managers with accurate, easily accessible, local data to enable more strategic management decisions on their farms. These weather stations now provide users with more accurate information on local soil water content and atmospheric conditions to assist with decisions regarding pasture management and fertilizer applications, therefore improving productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes.

      Previously, weather data for the Holbrook region was gauged from information out of Albury. Now landholders have access to accurate and constant data recording, enabling current, weekly and monthly weather reports to be generated. The weather stations upload information to the HLN website every 10 minutes via a Next G modem. From a touch of a button, users can easily access information in the field or at the office.

      Holbrook Landcare have installed 4 soil moisture probes which will measure soil characteristics including soil temperature and plant available water. This information is available in real time, via the Hussat website – http://www.hussat.com.au/public/public_map.php

      This data will assist land managers with decision making around livestock, pasture and cropping management; setting grazing rotations, allocating livestock feed and supplements and could also be used as a tool to make decisions on the timing of N fertiliser application, re-sowing or pasture renovation. Access of real time weather station data is available through the HLN webpage or via any device with internet connection. We encourage you to jump on the website and have a look at the information provided.
      These weather stations have been funded by Holbrook Landcare Network through the continued support of its members.

Trials
  1. Subsoil Acidity 2016 – 2019
    1. Update June 2018:  NSW DPI has released a number of case studies on Managing Soil Acidity. To view all case studies within Soil Acidity project click: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/soils/acidity   or to see the case study for the Holbrook trial go to Issue 08: Amelioration of subsoil acidity using inorganic amendments
    2. Subsoil acidity is a major constraint to crop productivity in the high rainfall zone (500-800 mm) of south-eastern Australia. Soil acidification is dale in oatsaccelerated by: nitrate leaching under certain crop rotations, the use of ammonium-based fertilisers, and the regular removal of plant products, such as grain or hay. The major constraint to plant production on acid soils is aluminium toxicity which inhibits root growth. Smaller root systems limit nutrient and water uptake and increase plant vulnerability. HLN’s Subsoil Acidity project is now in its second year. Initially the trial sites were established with varying treatments, including deep ripping lime or lucerne pellets precisely to the 10-30cm zone, deep ripping alone, and surface-applied lime. Soils were sampled prior to site establishment and will be sampled again after three years of crops. HLN staff have just completed the crop sampling process of the 12 plots on both trial sites. Visual results showed some clear differences in crop growth across the different treatments. A summary of this projects progression will be available shortly via the HLN website. A big thank you goes to Andrew Landale and Tony Geddes for their support with all aspects of the trial.
    3. HLN will be conducting two on-farm demonstration experiments over the next four cropping seasons to explore methods of managing subsoil acidity. The ultimate goal is to ensure the research results are delivered to farmers to help prevent or ameliorate the risk of significant yield loss due to subsoil acidity. HLN is one of 4 cropping groups that will conduct the trials as part of a GRDC project – Innovative approaches to managing subsoil acidity in the southern grain region. Two sites will be selected in the Holbrook area on highly acidic soils (pH 4.0-4.5 at 10-20 cm) and demonstration trials will be established in consecutive years to offset seasonal effects. It is envisaged that treatments will include surface liming, deep placement of lime, and subsoil manuring with surface liming, but other amendments may also be investigated.The first experiment will commence in the 2016 growing season with the second beginning in the following year. Both sites will be actively managed for three years, with the trials finishing in 2019. A field day will be held each year to promote discussion about the effectiveness of the treatments, methods and products used.
    4. Subsoil acidity project update 8/3/2016: After an intensive search for sites with the required pH and aluminium levels – that would also be cropped for at least three years – the first of these trials, located at ‘Teripta’, has now been established.NSW DPI technical staff and researchers spent almost a week on-site with their purpose-built deep ripper, which was able to rip and apply lime or lucerne pellets precisely to the 10-30cm zone. Other treatments are deep ripping alone, and surface-applied lime. Soils were sampled prior to site establishment and will be sampled again after three years of crops.The trial site will be sown on the next rain, and the plots sampled throughout the growing season to monitor the treatment effects. Another similar trial will be established in the district next year, and will be monitored for a further three years.The team working on the subsoil acidity project met in Wagga recently to update progress from all aspects of the project. Of interest are some early results from glasshouse trials at La Trobe Uni, which have found poultry litter, sheep manure, mature dairy compost, biosolids and poultry manure biochar consistently performed best when looking at wheat shoot biomass. The detoxification of aluminium in the soil was not exclusively due to pH increases, but there are other mechanisms at work with some of these organic amendments.In another glasshouse trial, results are showing that the placement depth of the amendment is important. Higher rates of the organic amendment at the top of the toxic layers is best, and essential, and root growth is stimulated below the amended layer. Again, pH and Al levels are not telling the whole story of the mechanisms involved.These options to ameliorate subsoil acidity still need to be thoroughly investigated at farm scale, economically and practically, but are giving some promising directions for that research.
    5. Factsheet 1
    6. Factsheet 2
    7. Subsoil Acidity Project trial sites update January 2017                                                                                                                                                      imag0516-web The first cropping season for the trial site at ‘Teripta’ is complete, and a big thank you goes to Andrew Landale for his support and willingness to help with all aspects of the trial. Early visual results showed some clear differences in crop growth across the different treatments, before intermittent waterlogging of the site occurred. The wet season meant there was some doubt about getting results from the trial, but we managed to collect all the relevant samples, and the canola was harvested at the end of December. Thanks also to Lachlan Casey and Dermott McMannus for their hard work in harvesting and weighing the yield for each plot.imag0564-webThe second trial site is in the process of being established at ‘Innisfail’, with soil sampling starting next week. Treatments will then be applied before sowing. Thanks to Stephen Bunyan for providing the site. Hopefully we will have a better season and get some good results from the two concurrent Holbrook Landcare trials this year.
  2. Nitrogen-fixing break crops
    • Experience in the high rainfall zone of southern Australia suggests that there are multiple handbrakes causing poor performance of N fixing crops and pastures. Such handbrakes are likely to include:
      • – sub-optimal crop dry matter production due to plant disease,
      • – root pruning of legume crops with associated low levels of nodulation caused by excessive sulfonylurea herbicide residues on low pH soils,
      • use of poor quality and/or poorly adapted rhizobium.GRDC has funded NSW DPI in a project designed to address these issues.
    • One of two regional on-farm trials to identify and prioritise the importance of these various handbrakes  is being hosted at Mangoplah. These trials are replicated, multi-factorial (including such factors as crop species, rhizobium application method, root disease control) experiments focussing on the productivity handbrakes suggested by the previous year’s surveys/trials. Trial results will  give farmers guidelines highlighting those management practises necessary to maximise productivity, yield and N fixation in these legume crops. The inclusion of pasture legumes is an important species treatment in the regional on-farm trials because we need to know both the contribution to N fixation made by these species as well as their production. This information will then be fed into the model Grassgro from which grazing animal productivity can be determined – helping the integration of livestock into these mixed farming systems.
    • Understanding how legume crops and pastures interact with various management methods and Rhizobium inoculants will help get the best out of the farming system. At the Mangolplah trial site in 2015 faba beans, narrow-leafed lupins and a high density forage mixture of arrowleaf, balansa and Persian clovers, have been sown. Treatments for each legume species will be that they are harvested for grain, cut for hay or brown manured. Each treatment and legume species is also replicated by being sown with and without prilled lime.  This is the first year of a three year trial and Holbrook Landcare will hold a field day at the site next year when results begin to be available.
    • The 2015 observations have highlighted the impact of acid soils on growth and yield potential of faba beans, and this is relevant to any sensitive legume on acid soils. Click here for more information.
    • An update on the trial results from NSW DPI researchers May 2016 is available here.
      KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Hay and Silage Wrap Recycling Program

2019

Holbrook Landcare has been successful in its funding bid through the National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants. The project, “Embedding a Recycling Culture for Silage Wrap and On Farm Plastics” will continue on from where the hay and silage wrap recycling pilot project left off. Part of this project is to extend recycling availability of on farm plastics throughout the Greater Hume Shire. The grant includes funding for extra drop off points at Culcairn, Mullengandra and Burrumbuttock landfill sites.
The environmental impact of providing an alternative farm plastic waste solution for landholders is significant, as the plastic waste has previously been buried or burnt on farm. Around 28 tonnes of silage wrap and twine has already been dispatched to Plastic Forests in Albury for recycling over the last 18 months, and the uptake of participation continues to increase. We are delighted that the Greater Hume Shire is supporting this innovative recycling program, which has already generated interest from many other shires and groups across the country, including other REROC members!
Currently you can continue to drop your silage wrap and twine at the Holbrook tip, using bags provided by Holbrook Landcare. Skip bins are in place at Burrumbuttock, Culcairn and Mullengandra council tips as well. There are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to recycling on farm plastics so please take time to read the links below for all the details on what can and cant be recycled as well as how to package your silage wrap and twine.

Frequently Asked Questions v2
How to recycle your silage wrap or twine v2
What farm plastics can i recycle v2

We would like to thank Greater Hume Shire Council for their ongoing support for this project and to the National Landcare Program.

2017 – 2018

silage wrap pic 2This project has been hugely successful, clearing around 12 tonnes of silage wrap and string from being burnt or buried on farm. Instead it has been delivered to a recycling plant in Albury, Plastic Forests, turning this waste into a range of recycled plastic products including underground cable cover, garden edging and resin pellets.
HLN has applied for funding to continue this project in the GHSC area. We will hear in May 2018 whether we have been successful in our bid. In the mean time you can continue to drop your silage wrap off at the Holbrook waste depot. Another skip bin is to be delivered to Plastic Forests in March/April 2018.
If you have any feedback regarding this pilot project we wold love to hear it. You can contact us on (02) 6036 3181 or [email protected].

A big thank you to the Greater Hume Shire for their support of the project and Murray LLS who has supported the project with funding from the National Landcare Programme.

 

Kim and Ken Hulme adding placing silage wrap into their disposal liners with Project Officer Thomas Carberry
Other documents;

Nutrient Management

2018

HLN have been offering the Nutrient Management Program for 7 years in the area. The program allows landholders in the South West Slopes & Upper Murray regions of NSW to access subsidised or discounted soil tests. Soil testing is an important tool in helping farmers make informed decisions to improve soil fertility in both grazing and cropping enterprises. The nutrient management program can assist you in better understanding your soil fertility; how to measure it, why it is important, interpreting the results and developing strategies for managing or improving it. 

As part of the program, workshops are held in various locations to help you interpret your soil test results, develop management strategies and compare them to the district soil test results.

If you would like to participate in this program click on the flyer for details: HLN Soil Testing Program flyer 2018

Information presented at 2016 workshops: 

Information presented at  2015 workshops:

For many farming enterprises, the application of phosphorus fertiliser is one of the largest annual expenses. HLN, as part of the Carbon Farming and our Business project, has developed a phosphorus budgeting tool which can be used in conjunction with soil testing. An annual fertiliser plan and budget can be developed by using this easy to use, excel-based tool.

Pests and Weeds

Holbrook Landcare Silverleaf Nightshade management project

Silver Leaf Nightshade – dual action strategies for effective control

HLN has received funding from Murray LLS and the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program to assist local landholders to improve their capacity to control silverleaf nightshade infestations. The project will work in with Murrumbidgee Landcare and NSW DPI, who are currently involved in a national project at the regional scale.

A discussion group and a field day were held on 11th Nov 2015 where landholders, researchers, HLN and Murrumbidgee Landcare staff  as well as local government weeds officers shared information, ideas and experience about the weed. HLN has done some stem counts on affected land to gather data on the current status of the weed in the local area, and has produced a case study of a local property to gain a practical understanding of the on-ground issues. Click here to see the Case Study. A copy of the field day presentation is available here.

To visit the website for the national Silverleaf Nightshade project click here.

Grazing

HLN has some of the CSIRO dung beetle glove box identification guide available in the office, if you would like one. If you would like to know more:

More Resources here.

HLN held a successful series of events looking at dung beetles on 26-27 April 2016. Graeme Stevenson, a fellow Landcarer from NW Tasmania, gave an enthusiastic talk on Tuesday evening. IMAG0488 web

On Wed morning, Belinda Pearce ran a very informative ID workshop. Belinda has quite a history of working with dung beetles in the Kiewa Valley and put together the dung beetle resource package some years ago.IMAG0493 web

The workshop was followed by a farm walk at ‘Blairgowrie’, where we were all very excited to find 3 active species working away in the paddock. Thanks to Dick Turnbull for hosting the farm walk.IMAG0500 web

Who’s Who in the Poo – Dung Beetle project was funded by Murray LLS and the Australian Government through the National Landcare Programme.IMAG0505 web

 

Phosphorus Budgeting Tool

This tool was developed as part of the ‘Carbon Farming and your business’ project to enable farmers to calculate the rate of phosphorus required for their property based on stocking rate, current phosphorus levels and production goals.

Phosphorus Budget Tool | Excel Doc

 User guidelines