Research and Trials
Determine the value of break crops in the rotation, DAFWA and GRDC (7 focus
farms located at Gnowangerup and Borden).
Evaluate Yield Prophet® crop forecasting tool in NSP, DAFWA, CSBP, GRDC
and local agronomists (Location: Borden). Click on this link for further
Malting Barley Trial
Malting Barley variety by seed rate demonstration trial in NSP region,
GRDC 2012 Agribusiness Extension Trial Network with Brent Pritchard,
Demonstrate technique of green manuring to renovate poor performing
paddocks, SCNRM CFOC project 10SC-C76 (Location: Borden).
Different biochar application methods by rate, with Energy Farmers Australia
and Wayne Phillips (Location Gnowangerup).
Different Nitrogen rates on Tall Wheat grass, Gillamii Farmready Project
Demonstrate best practice for managing subsoil acidity, SCNRM CFOC
Project 11SC-C105 (Location: Gnowangerup).
The Agronomy Jigsaw - Download
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ALL SITES FOR THE PROJECT (kmz file - 8.2mb)
Farm Scale PA Trials
- Some pointers from the Agronomy Jigsaw project
The Agronomy Jigsaw project
has been delving deeper into
strip trial analysis through
farmer examples provided
cour tesy of Preci s ion
Agronomics Australia (PAA). As
you’re getting into seeding,
here are a few pointers to
consider for precision
agriculture (PA) style strip trials
for the future.
The aim of any trial is to
measure the effect of a
different treatment(s) on crop
performance. In the case of PA
technology the trial is also used
to see if there was a variation of
the response to the treatment
between the different zones (or
soil types) within the paddock.
The first step is the location of
the trial in the paddock. The
trial should pass over at least 2
soil types or zones in a paddock
for comparison. Zones can be
defined based on either EM or
gamma surveys, soil mud maps,
yield maps or biomass images.
It is important to ensure that
the trial covers enough of each
zone so that a significant
number of yield points can be
extracted from the yield map
The following are some basic
findings of strip trial design
- Trial treatment strips need to
be wide enough for at least
2, though ideally 3, header of around 40 meters.
- Keep it simple. One or two
treatments represent a relatively
simple analysis as well as
preventing the trial spanning half
- Include control strips, (like the
SEPWA variety trials). If yield is
trending up or down across the
site it can be measured via the
control strips and relative
adjustments made. This makes
the trial wider further reinforcing
the need to limit the number of
At harvest here are some simple
yet vital pointers:
- Use a single harvester to harvest a
trial. Variation in the yield
monitor calibration between
harvesters is an obvious source of
- Harvest the entire trial in the
same direction, (if practical).
Work by DAFWA biometrician
Andrew Van Burgel has identified
that there is up to 20% yield
variation between the directions
of travel of a harvester. This
variation is neither consistent nor
predictable. If the machine is
harvesting up the paddock within
the trial, to maintain the data
integrity, the machine should
jump several run
lines to be outside
the trial area on
the return runs
- Keep the
moving at a
while within the
trial. Simple while waiting for a chaser bin
causes irregularities in the
recorded yield data.
So in summary for your
PA trial plans:
- Trial treatment strips need to be
wide enough for at least 2,
though ideally 3, header runs.
- Keep the design simple – few
treatments with large differences.
- Put in control strips.
- Use a single harvester to harvest
- Harvest all the trial runs in the
- Keep the harvester moving at a
consistent speed across the
paddock when in the trial.
- Group raw data points into about
20 x 20m blocks averages to then
compare across the trial zones
Below is an image of a gypsum trial
with alternate control strips running
parallel to the AB guidance run lines.
In a typical strip trial design the trial
strips would run parallel to the
harvest run lines.
Using Yield Prophet® to match wheat crop inputs with yield potential
This season North Stirlings Pallinup Natural Resources
will be working with Department of Agriculture and
Food WA, GRDC, CSBP and local agronomists to
evaluate Yield Prophet® in Borden as a crop decision
management tool. Reports will be available as the
season progresses or you could contact Steve
Turnbridge, DAFWA Katanning 98213333.
What is Yield Prophet®?
Yield Prophet® is a crop forecasting decision tool
developed by the Birchip Cropping Group and
CSIRO. It was developed to aid decision making and
deal with variable seasons. Yield Prophet® uses the
APSIM model and is used throughout the major grain
growing regions of Victoria, South Australia and New
South Wales. It can provide simulations to help
forecast yield probabilities, manage climate and soil
water risk, make informed decisions about nitrogen
applications, match inputs with yield potential, assess
the effect of changed sowing dates or varieties.
Like any model the better the information that goes
in the greater confidence you have on what comes
out. Yield Prophet relies on having soil types
characterised, but there are few in the Great
Southern. For the time being we are matching our
soils to soils that have been characterised for the
model. Two sites on different soil types have been
established in close proximity to the Malting barley
variety by seed rate trial in Borden. Soil core samples
have been collected and at 0-10 cm, 10-40 cm,
40-80 cm and 80-120 cm for soil nutrients, soil water,
pH, EC etc. Samples were collected in April so as to
get soil moisture levels as close to the crop lower
limit or wilting point as possible.
Sowing date, crop variety, maximum root
depth ,nitrogen inputs and daily rainfall data are all
required to run the simulations.
See below examples of how Yield Prophet can help Crop Growth. The model predicts the date for a particular
crop growth stage eg 4 leaf, tillering etc which help plan crop protection or fertiliser applications. Other
information supplied is the available soil water and plant water usage which as you approach the end of the
season can assist with decisions for fungicide applications.
The model allows you to compare different rates of nitrogen and their impact on
potential yield and probability of obtaining that yield.
Please note the three graphs are not related to the same site.
Figure 1: Shows the outcome of 3 rates of
nitrogen applied 6 weeks after seeding, with
scenario 1-0 kg N/ha, scenario 2-23 kg N/ha and
scenario 3-46 kg N/ha. These results can then be
used in conjunction with other information that is
supplied with the model-available soil moisture,
how the season is tracking, other constraints.
Figure 2: There is plenty of stored soil moisture, and when this
graph was produced additional information supplied
showed there was adequate moisture for the next 10 days
assuming no further rain. Using this data in conjunction with
weather forecasts can help with decisions on further fertiliser
applications or fungicide sprays.
Figure 3: This graph shows the
distribution of nitrogen in the soil
and you can see there is a
great store below 600mm,
which the roots cannot access
because of some constraint at
200 mm (The 200mm is a figure
the user inputs.)
Biochar: how it could benefit your soil?
Many farmers are burning crop
residue to control resistant weeds,
this to many is a resource being
wasted and there is growing
potential for farmers to capture
this resource and use it to produce
Pyrolysis and gasification are two
such methods where materials
such as crop biomass and other
waste, manure or wood chips are
heated in a high temperature, low
oxygen environment to produce a
syngas that can be used to generate
electricity. A by-product of the
process is biochar.
Biochar is a stable form of
charcoal produced by heating
organic material. Due to its
structure biochar may remain
stable hundreds to thousands
of years hence it is being
considered as a way to store
Research by the Department of
Agriculture and Food WA has
demonstrated that using biochar
and half rates of phosphate
fertilisers has maintained crop
productivity in low P soils.
See research results *.
Other reported benefits of biochar include providing habitat for soil
microbes, increasing nutrient
storage and water holding
capaci ty, reduces nutrient
leaching, soil acidity, and
sequesters carbon. There is
however the need to do more field
work to determine if biochar has
a place in our agricultural
This year North Stirling’s Pallinup
Natural Resources will be working
with Energy Farmers Australia
and two other Grower Groups in
the Northern Agricultural Region
to evaluate biochar in on farm
demonstrations including effect on
crop yield and an assessment of the
economic benefit of the whole
biochar process and potential to
Unfortunately for this project we
were unsuccessful in this years
Biochar Research Capacity
Bulilding Program (Carbon
Farming Initiative) Funding
Round. Future options for funding
are currently being explored.
Thank you very much to Kevin
Wise, Wayne Phillips and Energy
Farmers Australia who have
assisted getting this demonstration
in the ground.
For more information contact:
Euan Beamont, Energy Farmers
Australia, mobile 0427 611 424 or
visit their website
*Blackwell P, Krull E, Butler G,
Herbert, A and Soliaman, Effect of
banded biochar on dryland wheat
production and fertiliser use in
South-Western Australia: an
agronomic and economic
perspective, Australian Journal of
Soil Research, CSIRO, 2010,