Co-authored by Chris McDonough, Rural Solutions SA and Tanja Morgan, Tanja Morgan Project Services.
Around 70% of farmers in the Mallee have mixed farming systems incorporating cropping, pastures and livestock. As more farmers switch to no-till seeding into stubble ground, many have found no-till into pasture far more challenging.
This means pasture ground is often cultivated prior to sowing, increasing time and energy required to get the crop in, decreasing soil moisture at seeding and increasing erosion potential, particularly when worked early in the year.
The advantage of traditional tillage has been breaking up root diseases (including rhizoctonia), reducing residues, controlling weeds, incorporating herbicides and mineralising nutrients. Some farmers trying no-till into pasture ground have observed poorer crop establishment, less vigour and more root disease.
However, many farmers can consistently no-till into pastures with success, demonstrating that it can work in a variety of soil types and seasons.
Why are some more successful than others?
Research from Grain & Graze 2 and Caring for our Country Projects in the SA Mallee have uncovered many factors influencing these systems, highlighting the key strategies that farmers need to successfully no-till into pasture ground.