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Beyond the Bale : Jun 07 - Jul 07
7 WEED MANAGEMENT BEYOND THE BALE Murray Stephenson of 'Brooklyn', Binda, says various techniques have helped weed control on his proper ty, such as spot spraying. 'Brooklyn', Binda, where the Stephensons have concentrated on weed management. More information: the new set of 3D guides is available from the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099 a focus on those parts of the farm where the soil has been disturbed.Their control strategy relies on herbicide treatment, complemented with competitive pastures. Cultivation is now used only to establish improved pastures and not as a tool for serrated tussock control. The preferred method of control for serrated tussock is the application of fluproponate, which in Murray and Barbara's experience has been superior to glyphosate. Murray and Barbara have learnt over time that the key to success with herbicide is to allow pastures to gain a competitive advantage over the sprayed weed.They believe there are two critical tactics to achieve this: ú spray serrated tussock when pasture species (improved or native) are dormant; and ú spot-spray weeds to avoid chemical damage to surrounding pastures. Murray uses a novel approach in his spray application for serrated tussock: a modified drench gun to apply a metered dose to each tussock plant. Because the spray is targeted to the base of the plant, it has minimal effect on the surrounding pasture cover, helping to reduce the area of bare ground on which serrated tussock seed could germinate. Ensuring pastures retain their vigour is also important. For the introduced pastures, fertiliser is applied at rates based on soil test results.This averages about 125 kilograms per hectare of single superphosphate per year. For the native pastures, about every five years Murray excludes stock in late spring to allow the pastures to set seed. The control program implemented on 'Brooklyn' has allowed grazing capacity to double over the past 20 years, thereby improving farm profitability. Given that the carrying capacity has risen from 3.5 dry sheep equivalent per hectare (DSE/ha) 20 years ago to seven DSE/ha today, the return from each hectare of the farm has essentially doubled. Based on an estimated gross margin of $40/DSE, Murray has, over the past 20 years, increased annual returns by about $140/ha. In addition, Murray says that the value of the farm has also increased, now that it is relatively free of serrated tussock. Over the past 20 years, Murray and Barbara's experience has taught them several key lessons that they would pass on to other producers facing the same problems with serrated tussock: ú be vigilant -- watch for new plants germinating and act quickly; ú apply chemicals to tussock plants only -- if spray affects the surrounding pasture species, their vigour and competitiveness is reduced, thereby reducing the effectiveness of weed control; and ú chemical concentration can be quite low, and therefore cost-effective, if spot spraying is undertaken at the right time and applied correctly.
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement
Apr 07 - May 07