To determine the comparative performance of alternative crops and pastures as pest and disease breaks in an intensive cereal phase. In low rainfall regions of south-eastern Australia broad-leaf crops make up only a very small proportion of the total area of sown crops. In light of increasing climate variability farmers have adopted continuous cereal cropping strategies as non-cereal crops are perceived as riskier than cereals due to greater yield and price fluctuations. At the same time, this domination of cereals is increasing the need for non-cereal options to provide profitable rotational crops, disease breaks and weed control opportunities to sustain cereal production. Currently, the most common ‘break crop’ is a poorly performing volunteer annual grass dominant pasture. They are often havens for cereal pests and diseases and are seen as having negative impacts on subsequent cereal grain yield and quality.
Continuously cropping cereals has increased grass weeds and root disease to a point that it is no longer the most economical option, due to decreased yield and costs associated with addressing weed and disease issues. Two year breaks starting to pay their way in the third year of the rotation. One year breaks have lifted wheat performance but have not kept grassy weeds or diseases under control.
Lead research organisation
South Australian Research and Development Institute
Host research organisation
SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Trial funding source
Crop Sequencing Initiative
We would like to thank Ian Richter and Wade Shepperd for their technical support.
<p>65 kg/ha DAP (18:20:0:0) on 14 May. Five treatments that had not had any legume break phase (2x continuous wheat, vetch/oats mix followed by wheat, oats then canola and canola then oats) in the previous two years also received 50 kg/ha of urea at sowing to compensate for any nitrogen deficiency.</p>
<p>One month post-sowing the Kord plots were sprayed with Intervix @ 0.7 L/ha. The entire trial was sprayed for broadleaf weeds with MCPA+ diflufenican @ 0.75 L/ha on 4 July and any treatment that had had a medic break phase received an additional herbicide application the following day of clopyralid 0.08 L/ha to target volunteer medic. Seven treatments (Angel medic/wheat, oats/canola, oats/peas, Jaguar medic/wheat, canola/peas, peas/wheat and peas+canola/wheat) with high levels of grassy weeds were subsequently sprayed with grass selective cloqintocet-mexyl + pyroxsulam @ 0.5 L/ha. Grassy weeds were measured in three ways to gain a greater understanding of what was occurring within rotations. Prior to sowing soil was collected from the west end of each plot to assess weed seed banks. They were grown out in a shade house where emerged plants were counted and recorded. The counting process was repeated following three times of emergence 22 May, 30 May and 3 July. The second assessment was undertaken in the field plots on 20 August when grass species were counted and recorded for each plot, and thirdly on 25 September panicle counts of grass weeds were completed as a measure of potential seed bank for the 2014 season.</p>
SILO weather estimates sourced from https://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/silo/
Jeffrey, S.J., Carter, J.O., Moodie, K.B. and Beswick, A.R. (2001). Using spatial interpolation to construct a comprehensive archive of Australian climate data , Environmental Modelling and Software, Vol 16/4, pp 309-330. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-8152(01)00008-1.
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