A LEGUME rotation combined with a robust herbicide have done an exceptional job of “cleaning up’’ problem paddocks for Berrigan farmer Andrew Hawkins.
Andrew farms on just over 2000 hectares at Berrigan in southern New South Wales, where he operates a mixed irrigation enterprise.
He runs Merino and first cross ewes and lambs, while 60-70 per cent of the property is dedicated to summer and winter cropping programs.
The summer program consists mainly of rice, while the winter program includes a mix of wheat, canola, barley and lupins.
Annual ryegrass is an issue for Andrew, with some paddocks particularly bad.
In an effort to tackle the ryegrass, he grew lupins in the problem paddocks and worked with his agronomist, Andrew Parr from Murray Valley Rural – Berrigan, to formulate a targeted herbicide program.
“Andrew looks after our whole program and he’s a very handy agronomist, so we followed his plan, which included using Factor in the lupin paddocks,” Andrew said.
“We planted lupins in the paddocks that needed cleaning up and some soil conditioning and that, with the use of Factor, was almost like growing a GM (genetically modified) crop. That’s how well it cleaned up the weeds, particularly the ryegrass.
“Especially in the first year, perhaps the seasonal conditions contributed to the success, but it was amazing.
“The wheat crop we grew after the lupin crop was entered into the district’s dryland wheat competition and actually won, so that was good.”
Factor, from Crop Care, is a Group A 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.
It’s fast acting, so there is less competition from weeds during the early stages of crop development.
Andrew has been applying Factor at a rate of 150g/ha in a mix with 500ml/ha of Havoc, also from Crop Care and which contains clethodim as its active ingredient.
“It smoked every grass weed we had. It’s the best chemical that I’ve used,” Andrew said.
“Provided it’s applied in the right conditions and given the best chance to work, it’s fast acting and we didn’t have any ryegrass plants that survived.
“We achieved a total knockdown, which I think was helped by the fact this farm had never seen an application of Factor previously, so there’s no resistance.
“If we’re sticking to a legume rotation and using Factor every four to five years, I see no reason why that performance wouldn’t continue,’’ he said.