Entering their crop of Gregory wheat in the local competition organised by the Lockhart Show Society is one way in which David and Heidi Gooden can strengthen the local community and the events which draw people together in the bush.
The couple are partners in the family business Agoodco Farm, a farming aggregation based at Craigfernie, Lockhart and were on hand to receive the sash for their district winning entry in the Western Region of the 2018 Australian Societies Council/ Suncorp Bank Dryland Field Wheat competition.
“We don’t enter to win, but it is a valuable experience if we do, but our intention is to support the show,” Mrs Gooden said.
“We have been in the finals before and it is a wonderful opportunity to network … you meet a lot of people with interesting ideas.”
Sown at the beginning of May, the crop was direct drilled with 50kg of MAP plus 40kg Urea, with a further 40kg of Urea applied at the end of August; but crucially, although 383mm rain was recorded during the fallow period only 155mm was measured during the growing period April to October.
Under those critically dry circumstances, weed control was more important than ever, a point made by the judge for the 2018 competition Paul Parker, as he was assessing the crop for the state-wide finals.
“It is excellent for weed [control],” he said.
“There is just an odd black oat or little patch of black oats … the way I look at it when scoring is based on economics.
“It would not have been economical to spray.”
Mr Parker acknowledged David Gooden would have preferred to spray for the aesthetic appeal of the crop, or for future control of black oats.
“But when it comes to economics it was very hard to justify spraying the paddock when there was only a few odd patches,” he said.
Resistant ryegrass is acknowledged and a management plan to limit the residual seed set at a reasonable cost is in place.
Including a green manure crop of pulses in the rotation, relieves the need for chemical application intensity but with the additional benefit of fixing soil nitrogen through the natural function of legumes.
Mr Parker confirmed the strategy of chemical control and break crops in rotation is working.
“You know you have it, but it is not an issue in this crop so you are obviously managing it properly,” he said.
Mr Gooden concurred and said they have been focused on weed control for the past 20 years, and each time a new property is purchased, weed control becomes critical.
“When we bought this farm [Woodlands] it had radish on it,” he said.
“Doing it right and making sure there isn’t a seed bank is something we do religiously to the point where we rarely see a radish plant on Woodlands.”
Mr Gooden noted they often spend money when there is not obviously an immediate gain, but in the longterm they can foresee the benefits.
“The value of that application can be immense because you are stopping the resistance building up because you are killing that one plant which can produce a lot of seeds,” he said.
“Just because there is one plant in 200ha you go and spend the money and you get to the point were we are today where all the second cereal crop in the rotation hasn’t had a post-emergent herbicide.”
Mr Gooden said the payback is in this year when they haven’t had to spend money spraying and the crop is less stressed and is hopeful of harvesting between two and half and three tonnes/ha.