A lot has been happening in the Accelerating Change project and the broader industry over the last month. The hot dry start to spring meant irrigation was well under way when the Stewart Performance Innovation Team (PIT) met on 17 September. With the upturn in water prices, many farmers involved with Accelerating Change are reviewing their summer feeding strategies. Initial data collection will help assist with the calculations to weigh up whether certain pastures will be watered through or dried off. The Stewart PIT met in September to review farm performance, receive a technical presentation on moisture probes from Dale Boyd of DEDJTR and discuss and the monitoring and measurement strategy and pasture reading technology on the Stewart’s farm.
Accelerating Change is using the Automated Pasture Reader (APR) to collect data about the average pasture height, uniformity and estimated mass (kgDM/ha) across selected paddocks. In a number of these paddocks on both farms, we have taken sampl...
We've been busy on farm with our project partners, researchers at DEDJTR, testing and calibrating the pasture measurement gear we will be using as part of the project. One of the tools we are trialling is the Pasture Reader. See below for a YouTube clip of this in action.
The purpose of the monitoring and measurement strategy is to collect data on pasture accumulation and nutritive value as well as water use to assist in the identification on opportunities and challenges, inform management decisions and ground truth estimates and gut feel of our top operators for accuracy.
We have been getting both a CDax and a Pasture Reader calibrated and tested. The CDax is a proven and reliable way of measuring pasture but it's performance is limited in tall crops such as lucerne, as it is a pull behind device an ATV can squash the pasture before it is measured, confusing the results. The Pasture Reader is mounted on the front of an ATV so...
They don’t need to be deep - design them to your flow rate. The faster your flow the deeper they can be. With 10 ML flows on Tim’s bay they were only a few inches deep. If you have faster flow, experiment with a greater depth.
Keep them clean all year round. They need to be clean to work effectively and in winter to get benefits as well. When cleaning them out don’t make them deeper - just buzz out the grass.
Get the spacing of the spinner cuts right. Paul’s rule of thumb is for the two outer spinner cuts in each bay to be 7 m in from each check bank. Then evenly space the remaining spinner cuts at 10 to 14 m apart, depending on the bay width.
Start the spinner cuts 10 to 15 m from the top of the bay to allow water to spread across the bay before reaching them.
Run the spinner cuts all way down the bay to the bottom drain
Keep practicing and have patience - work out what works best for you.
They are not just to fix dodgy bays. They will really improve...
Picture: Mike Morris, DEDJTR irrrigation researcher speaking about spinner cuts with the Humphris PIT team.
They can be both modelled using new research that the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) are using to improve the precision of border check irrigation.
The Humphris PIT heard about this and the importance of good drainage at the second meeting for the Accelerating Change program. At the farm of Tim and Lyndal Humphris, of Tongala, discussion focused on the use of spinner cuts and how they can reduce the duration of transient waterlogging.
Now spinner cuts may not be the first thing that comes to mind in a project focusing on new technology! They have been around for a long time and have been tried and discarded by many farmers in the region, including Tim and Lyndal. However upgrading of infrastructure meaning faster flows on farm and new science which validates the benefits of them are bringing them back into focus. Paul Price, a member o...