Maintaining grain storage hygiene is key to ensuring optimum grain quality, as pests such as lesser grain borer have caused big issues for growers throughout southern Australia in the past.
Brothers Noel and Glen Baxter and their father, Kelvin, operate a total cropping enterprise at Berrigan in New South Wales.
The family has been farming in the area since the 1920s, with the current property spanning 8,097 hectares.
The cropping program includes both summer and winter crops, with the winter dryland cropping program comprising wheat, canola, barley and faba beans, while in summer they grow maize and cotton under irrigation.
Average dryland yields sit at around 2.5 t/ha for cereals and 1.5 t/ha for canola, while the irrigated crops are generally double those figures, using a combination of flood, spray and furrow irrigation.
According to Noel, they have increased their on-farm storage capacity over the years and now have the ability to store 12,000 tonnes of grain on-farm in a combination of sheds and silos.
“We do store a lot of grain on-farm, particularly cereals,” Noel said.
“It allows us to cut out the middle man to a degree. We run our own trucks as well, so after harvest, as soon as we know what grades we have, we start selling grain and deliver straight to Melbourne and Goulburn Valley.”
While it has allowed greater flexibility, it has also created a few challenges when it comes to grain protection.
Noel said they have had pest issues in the past, particularly with lesser grain borer and weevils, and had started to experience some resistance with the products they were using.
He said this led them to try Conserve™ On-Farm, a grain protectant from Dow AgroSciences.
“I often talk to resellers and our agronomist to see what products are out there, but I came across Conserve On-Farm when I attended the Australian Grains Conference a few years ago and decided to give it a go,” Noel said.
“In the past, we used methoprene and fenitrothion, but they broke down so we had to change, which is where Conserve stepped in.”
Conserve On-Farm was replaced by Conserve™ Plus Grain Protector last season. Conserve Plus contains s-methoprene and spinosad, to control lesser grain borer, and must be mixed with an organophosphate (OP) to control rice weevil. Reldan™ will be the product of choice in most circumstances; when used on barley and maize, fenitrothion should be used. This combination controls all major insect pests of stored grain, and may be used across all cereal grains, including maize, malting barley and rice.
Conserve Plus provides up to nine months control and with a nil withholding period, Conserve Plus maximises grain marketing flexibility.
“So far it’s worked well for us and it’s easy to apply,” Noel said.
“Having no withholding periods is also handy, because circumstances change and if we need to get that grain we know it’s available.
“At the moment, any wheat that I need to use contact spray on, I’ll use Conserve because it’s the best fit for our operation.”
For the Baxters, it is already playing a key part in their on-farm storage and means they don’t have to rely on the same products and risk resistance building.
“We’ve only been using it for a few years and it’s been in a rotation with phosphine gas and K-Obiol,” Noel said.
“I’ll be using a fair bit of Conserve on our other cereals this year though, as I’m starting to see less control with the K-Obiol.”
The Baxters source most of their chemicals, including Conserve, through their local CRT store, Murray Valley Rural Services at Berrigan.
Local store contact James Waugh said Conserve had become a valuable asset for bulk storage handlers, with many clients preferring it to other products.
“The advantage of on-farm storage is that you can market grain 12 months of the year, so having a product like Conserve Plus, with no withholding period, means when you need to outload, the grain is prepared and ready to go,” James said.
“The two-part system makes it very simple to use and it plays an important role in a rotation system to combat resistance.
“We run a campaign to take pre-harvest orders of Conserve Plus, to encourage growers to be proactive and have it on-hand before harvest.
“That way, they’re organised and not rushing around trying to get the product during harvest. It’s there and ready to go,’’ he said.
For further information on Conserve Plus, growers can contact their nearest CRT store.