CROP safety is paramount for South Australian grower Dane Sommerville, so it’s a factor that weighs heavily when selecting herbicides.
Dane, his wife Natalie and their two children, Jessica and Mitchell, run a cropping and livestock enterprise over 2227 hectares at Spalding, north of the Clare Valley.
Their cropping program generally comprises wheat, barley, canola, hay and vetch, but last year they also grew a small amount of faba beans.
In their livestock operation, they run 2000 Dohne ewes.
Dane said they had previously been relying heavily on clethodim for control of annual ryegrass and wild oats, but he was concerned about developing herbicide resistance.
To help manage this issue, he introduced the herbicide Factor, from Crop Care.
“We had been hammering clethodim, especially in the canola phase, so now we use Factor wherever we can outside of that. If we’re growing vetch for pasture, we’ll use Factor and if we’re growing beans or any other legumes, we’ll also use Factor,” Dane said.
“It allows us to get away from using clethodim, as I think Factor has an advantage over it. We’re using it wherever we can.
“We get it through Platinum Ag Services in Clare. I use them for purchasing chemical and bouncing ideas off.
“We also use a couple of private consultants, so we use quite a few people for advice, but that’s because we value being able to get different opinions and make the most of that variation of knowledge.”
Factor is a Group A post-emergent herbicide using butroxydim as its active ingredient to control grass weeds, including annual ryegrass.
It can also be mixed with other grass selective herbicides for greater weed control in a wide range of broadleaf crops, including summer and winter pulses, oilseeds and pastures. Factor in a mix with clethodim offers the greatest chance of controlling ryegrass.
It’s fast acting, so there is less competition from weeds during the early stages of crop development.
Dane uses Factor at the full rate of 180g/ha mixed with quizalofop or similar and an adjuvant, applied through a self-propelled sprayer.
“We get a fast knockdown with Factor and crop safety is paramount, but we can use the full rate and know that it’s safe,” he said.
“I’ve gone in early and late. Sometimes in our vetch program we want to leave the grasses there for early feed and then spray it out in the spring.
“I’ve found it works quite well, especially when it’s warm, as long there are no seed heads on the plant.
“Generally though, I would like to get it on between the three and five leaf stage with the ryegrass.”
Prior to farming at Spalding, Dane spent time working as an agronomist in Victoria, which is where he was introduced to Factor.
He said during that time it was predominately being used in chickpeas and lentils, but the ryegrass issue and heavy reliance on clethodim at Spalding made him think that the herbicide would also be a good fit in the region.
Now in his fifth season using the product, Dane hasn’t looked back.
“Hopefully we are picking up those ryegrass plants that are developing resistance to clethodim,” he said.
“We’re definitely seeing some ryegrass get through with clethodim, but I haven’t seen any get through with Factor if it’s sprayed at the right time.
“I keep a year’s supply in the shed to avoid any supply issues. That’s how important it is to me.”