Cropping System Improvements

Cropping System Improvements

DEEP SEEBED CONDITIONING (DSC) can be applied to ALL cropping systems and requires LITTLE or NO CHANGE to existing practices.

    • The ONLY change is the annual, or, if double cropping, seasonal practice of Deep Seedbed Conditioning prior to seeding each crop, on either dryland or irrigation land
    • With a stand-alone DSC machine, the seasonal renovation of deep seedbeds will be ONE ADDITIONAL, low-draft, high speed (~ 8 kph) operation.
    • BUT, if done in tandem, attached to the front of a seeder, NO additional operations will be required.
    • Aggressive cultivation, such as pupae busting for cotton, WILL NO LONGER BE REQUIRED.
    • AND,  deep ripping and gypsum applications  WILL NO LONGER BE REQUIRED.
  • See the amazing list of  Operational,   Soil,   Water  and   Drought   Resilience  BENEFITS   below.
Cropping Systems
 
The RETURN on INVESTMENT in a DSC machine and a seasonal DSC operation will be QUICKLY and PROFITABLY gained through MOST, if not ALL, of the following benefits

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AGRONOMIC  and  OPERATIONAL  BENEFITS

    • INCREASED yields, by 24 %, averaged across 24 seasons, and a wide range of soil types, farming situations and crop types, because  of the substantial improvements in the physical, nutritional and biological conditions of DSC seedbeds over normal seedbeds;                                  See Information Sheet No. 4.
    • REDUCED number and intensity of soil management operations, because  > 70 % of extra porosity created by DSC is retained beyond harvest in a loose, 300 mm deep seedbed;  
    • AVOIDANCE of need to demolish and reform beds and furrows when seeding successive crops, or rotating crops, because  > 70 % of the extra porosity is retained beyond harvest;
    • AVOIDANCE of the need for DEEP RIPPING and GYPSUM APPLICATIONS, because  the 300 mm deep DSC seedbed is stabilised in a loose condition by enlarged root systems, increased soil biological activity, and rarely saturates;
    • REDUCED fuel costs, because  the draft forces on DSC machines and seeders in loose DSC seedbeds are very small;                                                                                                               See Information Sheets Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8. 
    • LOWERED weed burden  and FEWER herbicide sprayings, because  of a dry soil surface and the absence of soil inversion in DSC seedbeds;
    • LOWERED soil-borne disease burden and REDUCED need for soil pesticides, because  of the increased soil aeration ( > 12 % extra porosity) and assured drainage of the 300 mm deep and loose DSC seedbed;                                                                                                                  See Information Sheets 12 and 13.
    • MORE EFFICIENT and UNIFORM application of soil pesticides at 300 mm depth with the DSC machine, because  the chemicals are spread horizontally from the trailing edge of the blades at 300 mm depth across the full width of the seedbed;                                                                              See Information Sheet No. 1.
    • LONGER CROPPING PHASES, because  there are reduced weed and disease burdens in DSC seedbeds due to the lack of soil inversion and the retention of a loose, aerated and drained 300 mm deep root zone that has increased organic matter and soil biological activitySee Information Sheets No. 12 and 13.
    • EXTRA INCOME from SOIL CARBON CREDITS, e.g.,  AU $ 5.17 Million / 1,000 ha over 6 years (@ a CCU price of AU $ 55 / tonne), because  crop root systems are enlarged and retained in an undisturbed state in DSC seedbeds;                                                                                                                See Information Sheet No. 5. 
    • INCREASED proportion of fields used productively because   DSC cropping allows the use of wider beds, e.g.,  irrigated DSC cropping uses 75 % with 2 m beds vs  67 % with 1.5 m beds; and DSC cropping on waterlogged land uses 83 % with 3 m wide beds vs  73 % with 1.83 m beds
    • IMPROVED trafficability because  DSC seedbeds, furrows and tramlines are rarely, if ever, saturated.                                                                                                                                         See Information Sheet No. 11.                                                                                                                                                    

SOIL  BENEFITS

    • INCREASED root growth (by > 30%) and deepened depth at which > 85 %  of these extra roots are located (i.e., 100 – 300 mm depth), because  of the loose and deep aerated soil of DSC seedbeds;
    • LITTLE or NO soil consolidation  of loose and deep DSC seedbeds, because  the retained, undisturbed, enlarged and deepened root systems act as a reinforcing mesh against consolidation and provide an enlarged food source for soil organisms;
    • INCREASED soil Organic Carbon, by > 48 %, and INCREASED soil Nitrogen by > 30 %, because  of the retention of undisturbed and enlarged root systems and their associated soil biology in DSC seedbeds; 
    • EASY and PROFITABLE Carbon Farming, because  the increase in soil carbon after 6 years of DSC cropping, at $55/tonne of Carbon Credit Units, was worth $5.17 million / 1,000 ha;              See Information Sheet No. 5.
    • AVOIDANCE of the need for and cost of DEEP RIPPING  compact soils, because  > 70 % of the DSC-created extra porosity is retained by enlarged root systems that provide a reinforcing mesh and an enlarged food source for soil organisms through to the next seeding seasonSee Information Sheet No. 6.              
    • AVOIDANCE of the need for and cost of APPLYING GYPSUM  to sodic / dispersive soils, because  the increased organic matter in DSC seedbeds reduces ESP by > 8 %, and the root-stabilised, porous and deep seedbed rarely saturates;
    • INCREASED nutrient holding capacity (CEC), by 60 %, because  of increased organic matter in DSC seedbeds
    • INCREASED pH, by 1.0 unit, because  of increased organic matter in DSC seedbeds.              See Information Sheet No. 7.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

WATER  BENEFITS

    • REDUCED irrigation water requirements of DSC crops (> 26 % less / application, or 1 – 2 ML / ha / cropping season), because  water is preferentially absorbed laterally in the loose and stable 300 mm deep DSC seedbed;
    • REDUCED irrigation labour costs:  Water application times are 33 % to 70 % shorter and subbing times to bed centres are 67 % to 75 % shorter, because  the loose and stable 300 mm deep DSC seedbed absorbs water many times faster than the consolidated underlying soil
    • INCREASEDwater absorbed, retained and used by plants in the 300 mm deep DSC seedbed.  The quantity of water absorbed by this layer was 3 to 4 times larger than that retained in the 0 – 300 mm layer by Cultivation and No-till practices, because  loose and stable DSC seedbeds absorb more water, more quickly, and more of it is available to plants;
    • REDUCED deep drainage losses, because  more water is absorbed more quickly in DSC seedbeds and irrigation applications are  shorter, with most of the water retained in the 300 mm deep DSC seedbed;                                                                                                                                          See Information Sheets No. 8 and 9.
    • INCREASED soil infiltration rates -by > 4 times because  the DSC seedbed is more porous and permeable;
    • INCREASED drought resilience, because  > 63 % more water and and many more nutrients are extracted by the enlarged root systems in the loose, stable and porous, 300 mm deep DSC seedbed;                                                                                                                                                            See Information Sheet No. 6.
    • INCREASED irrigation crop yields even on a highly fertile black self-mulching soil yields increased by > 5 %, because  in DSC seedbeds enlarged root systems access more water and nutrients;
    • ALL these benefits will be realised with FURROW, SPRAY, and DRIP irrigation.                      (NOTE:  They will  NOT be realised with FLOOD irrigation.  Flood irrigation destroys soil structure making soil less porous, less aerated, with less plant-available water and more susceptible to waterlogging);                                                                                                                                See Information Sheet No.10.
    • PREVENTION of waterlogging production losses, because  drainage and aeration of the 300 mm deep DSC seedbed occurs in < 48 h;
    • INCREASED crop yields in waterlog-prone locations – by 31 %, on average, because  the absence of waterlogging in DSC seedbeds makes a large difference to the root environment and plant growth in waterlog-prone situations.                                                                                            See Information Sheet No. 11.
    •  

DROUGHT  RESILIENCE  BENEFITS

    • INCREASED rainfall infiltration rates  (by > 4 times), because  DSC seedbeds are more porous and stable;
    • INCREASED water absorption (infiltration capacity) in  0 – 300 mm depth of DSC seedbeds – by > 40 mm (or 34 %), because  the stable, and deepened DSC seedbed is more porous and permeable;
    • INCREASED water extraction by crops on DSC seedbeds, because  they have an enlarged storage of plant-available water –  > 63 % more water is extracted by enlarged root systems in the more porous, root-stabilised and deepened DSC seedbeds;
    • REDUCED soil evaporation, because  the drier soil surface of DSC seedbeds ensures the transformation of water from liquid to vapour has to occur within the soil, below the surface, which makes evaporation very much slower (the dry surface acts as a mulch);
    • INCREASED yields in DRY seasons – by 34 %, on average, because  the increased storage of plant-available water is accessed by enlarged root systems in the stable, loose and deep DSC seedbeds, which makes a large difference to crop growth in dry seasons.                                  See Information Sheet No. 6. 

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DSC soll management;

  • is compatible with very nearly all forms of cropping, with the possible exception of root/tuber crops, such as potatoes, and;
  • the improved root-zone soil conditions it creates and maintains ensure its adoption will never fail to deliver INCREASED productivity, sustainability and profitability.

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                   See how easily DSC fits COTTON and SUGARCANE farming, two cropping systems that                                                previously HAD to cultivate too much, in the Information Sheets.                                                                                          attached to the Green Bars below.

Information Sheets containing explanations and substantiation of all the claimed operational, productivity and environmental benefits that flow from the practice of Deep Seedbed Conditioning can be accessed by clicking on the Green Bars below and then clicking on the red download buttons.

Info. Sheet No. 12 - Cotton

Cotton growers are required to thoroughly cultivate soils between crops to bust pupae tunnels, cut stalks and prepare a fine seedbed.  These agronomic necessities have degraded soil structure and made soils consolidate quickly and set hard when dry.

These difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that cotton farmers have only ever been offered larger, heavier machines that aggressively churn the soil, roots and soil biology.  They have never had access to machinery that can perform the required cultivations without inverting or displacing soil, and which conserves intact the roots and their associated soil biology of the previous crop.

This Information Sheet describes the minor adjustments to established practices when introducing DSC and lists the operational and productivity benefits that will flow.  Additional benefits that may flow are easier transition to rotational crops when using wide beds, perhaps longer cotton phases, improved sustainability and environmental stewardship (and the political kudos that accompanies this).

Info. Sheet No. 13 - Sugarcane

This Information Sheet describes the minor adjustments to sugarcane growing practices when introducing DSC soil management and lists the operational and productivity benefits that will follow. DSC will do away with the current inter-row cultivation and will also loosen the root zone of ratoon crops. The outcomes of significant impact from DSC practice will highly probably be improved productivity of first and ratoon crops, longer cane growing phases, the control of the disease Pachymetra, fewer operations to establish rotation crops and improved sustainability and environmental stewardship.