Best practices for farmers - farming systems

Introduction

Agriculture has undergone a number of enormous changes in the past sixty years with a variety of management systems being utilised throughout Australia. Initially, our soils were healthy and nutritionally balanced and so the farming systems were designed to grow a crop with no added nutrients, burn the stubble and plant another crop in the following year. Many farmers grew wheat after wheat for many years. In the early 1980,s students of agriculture were being taught that if they double cropped or grew two crops a year in the same soil it was destroying our soil. Now that we understand carbon management and photosynthesis, we know having a green plant growing year round is the most ideal system to manage for ground cover, the soil, carbon sequestration and profitability. Many farmers practiced long fallowing (up to 18 months) their paddocks to change over crops and without knowing destroyed the VAM populations and ended up with long fallow disorder. Many lessons were learned the hard way.

In the 1980's, minimum tillage and zero-tillage practices became popular and stubble was left standing. A new chemical "Glyphosate came on the scene and the chemical fallow began. Instead of ploughing our country and watching it wash away, we sprayed the weeds and saved the soil. Now we are learning of the potential impact of various chemical practices on micro-biology and its importance to the health of the farming system. Read more about the benefits.

Brown's Ranch - Cropping an interesting read.

Best Practice Farming

Today, there are many different farming systems practiced around the world which all have varying levels of benefit and success. Proven Best Practice Farming methodologies include practice that:

Today's Farming Systems

The following are the main systems being practiced today. Which one are you practicing and why?

  1. Zero-tillage - only tynes or discs to plant seed - chemical fallowing.
  2. Minimum tillage - one or two passes of machinery to till soil.
  3. Conservation farming - another name in the USA for zero and min till
  4. Conventional farming - ploughing the soil to remove weeds and allow water penetration.
  5. Biological farming - use of biological fertilisers to assist soil biology, compost teats etc
  6. Organic farming - Farming without the use of manmade chemicals or fertilisers
  7. No chemical farming - Farming without chemicals
  8. Permaculture - utilising the landscape function to grow crops
  9. Pasture cropping - planting a cereal crop directly into perennial pastures
  10. Biodynamics - organic farming method focussed on natural cycles and systems
  11. Ley pastures - growing pasture crops for short periods on farming country
  12. Green manure cropping - growing a green crop to plough back into the soil for soil health
  13. Crop rotations - growing different crops to reduce disease problems
  14. Controlled traffic - the use of tram lines or permanent wheel tracks, auto steering systems.
  15. Carbon farming - farming systems that build carbon back into soils

Watch this video by Paul Brown on "Why soil health is important to farming"

We will update this page as more information is requested. If you wish to find out more about any of these topics or training programs for GrainsBMP or Cropping BMP, phone or email our office on 1300780872.

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