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Early sowing

Queensland farmer Daniel Wegener is using a technique we developed called early sowing to make the best of the current drought.

[Image appears of a paddock of crop waving in the wind]

[Image changes to show Daniel Wegener standing in a paddock talking to the camera and a piece of farm machinery can be seen in the background and text appears: Daniel Wegener, Cereal and legume farmer, Brigalow, QLD]

Daniel Wegener: We predominantly grow cereal grain crops and some legume crops as well.

[Image changes to show dry paddocks flashing past and then the image changes to show a rear view of a road train moving along the road into Brigalow township past the Brigalow sign]

The conditions that we’re experiencing now since I’ve been home farming are probably the toughest. The next closest to this was the 2006 where we had about 13 inches of rain for the year.

[Image changes to show a row of silos on a farm]

And at the moment we’re only just below eight. Stored water is something you can’t buy.

[Image changes to show a profile view of Daniel standing in a harvested paddock and the camera gradually pans around to show a facing view of Daniel]

So, you’ve got to capture every drop you can get and use it as best as you can.

[Image changes to show Daniel squatting down in the paddock and then the image changes to show Daniel standing in a paddock in front of some farm machinery talking to the camera]

One way we’ve been able to capitalise on stored moisture is through early sowing. Therefore we’re gaining a better water use efficiency.

[Image changes to show Dr Lindsay Bell standing in a paddock of crop talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Lindsay Bell, CSIRO farming systems scientist]

Dr Lindsay Bell: We all know droughts are a common part of Australian farming so employing strategies that mitigate risk in your farming enterprise is a critical thing that all farmers should be thinking about over the long term.

[Image changes to show a rear view of Lindsay walking through the crop and looking at it]

So, a practice like early sowing can provide an opportunity for a farmer to increase the number of crops they grow over time.

[Image changes to show Lindsay’s hand scratching up the dirt in between the crop and then the image changes to show a close view of Lindsay poking a stick down into the soil]

So, it may enable them to fit three crops into two years for example rather than only growing two crops in those two years.

[Image changes to show Lindsay talking to the camera]

So, that enables them to then utilise more moisture and more efficiently and potentially increase their productivity.

[Images move through of Daniel talking to the camera, Daniel climbing up on a harvester and sitting in the cab, the harvester moving through the paddock, and then Daniel talking to the camera again]

Daniel Wegener: Continued research and development in agriculture is important whether it’s done through CSIRO, GRDC, or local grower groups because they can go out and look at different ways to do things and see whether they’re going to be more profitable or not over different trials and different locations and yeah, it’s a great thing and it needs to keep happening because through their work it should make us more profitable and resilient at the end of the day.

[Image changes to show Lindsay standing in a paddock of crop talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Lindsay bending down looking at the crop and the camera zooms in]

Dr Lindsay Bell: So, what we do is help farmers like Daniel improve their profitability and viability in the long term by providing information about how they can improve their resilience in the face of climate variability.

[Image changes to show Daniel standing in front of a piece of farm machinery talking to the camera and then the image changes to show the paddock and the camera pans along the ground]

Daniel Wegener: And you can’t keep doing what you were doing 20 or 30 years ago because there’s better ways to do things and you know, you’ve just got to try it and give it a go.

[Image changes to show a row of silos and the camera continues to pan around the farm shedding and then up the silos]

So, the last couple of years I believe we still have been quite profitable during this drought.

[Image changes to show a close view of seed being poured from one of Daniel’s hands to the other]

We’re still seeing with our early sowing of sorghum, we’re still seeing average yields if not slightly above traditional average yields in our sorghum.

[Image changes to show Daniel standing in front of a piece of farm machinery talking to the camera]

So, as the future goes for our farm personally, yeah I think it’s got a great future ahead of it. I’ve got a… we’ve got a couple of young girls at home and I’d encourage them to whatever they want to do in life and if it happens to be farming yeah there’s definitely opportunities here for them.

[Image changes and the CSIRO logo and text appears on a white screen: CSIRO Australia’s National Science Agency]

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