“Little Range” farm, home of the well-known Koonwarra sheep stud, is owned by the Merriman family and a farming icon in NSW. The site chosen for this demonstration was a paddock sown down to grazing canola.
Baseline soil analysis and treatments commenced in Autumn 2016. Fertiliser and lime was applied following standard practices used on this farm. At the time of harvest, the farmer recorded a 20% increase in the oil content of the canola seed from the compost-treated block. The 20% increase in oil content is significant because the canola seed was now above the minimal level needed for processing. The rest of the crop had marginal oil content.
There were no significant differences in grain yield measured in tonnes per hectare. No difference in yield may be due to the continued application of chemical fertilisers at the full rates. The combined use of ASM treatments and fertilisers at full rates is not cost effective. That ASM treatments still provided a worthwhile result is very good indeed and above expectations. The obvious next step is to repeat the demonstration using only ASM treatments versus the rest of the paddock with only chemical fertilisers. We have found that farmers in general are reluctant to commit significant areas of crops to zero fertiliser treatments because of the perceived risk of no income from that area.
Property Size: 2,000ha
Location: Boorowa, NSW
Aim: Increase economic benefits from the use of high quality compost
Results: The farmer recorded a 20% increase in the oil content of the canola seed.
There are other considerations which make the 20% increase in oil content very important. This crop suffered from problems at sowing and received very heavy rains through winter and early spring. The lower slopes of the treated block had to be abandoned. Fortunately the upper slopes of the treated area performed very well with the arrival of warmer and drier conditions later in the season.
The increase in canola oil production was supported by soil test results showing improvements in nutrient deficiencies. Soil tests showed big improvements in phosphorous. Double the level for Colwell and triple for Bray 1 and Bray 2. Sulphur, nutrient availability and conductivity were also improved. This means the improvements have continued past harvest and will be available for the next crop. Oats have already been sown in this paddock for 2017. Visual improvements in the crop are already apparent where ASM treatments were applied in Autumn 2016.
This Case Study was jointly funded by ASM and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). NSW EPA provided financial support under their Organics Market Development Program to demonstrate the use of recycled organics on farms in NSW.