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Brookton Farm Manager Scott Morton Turns True Believer

Publish Date: 10 September 2020

||||AFTER experiencing the ‘king of non-wetting’ country on the sandy gravels at Badgingarra, Scott Morton was largely a non-believer in soil wetting agents.
||||Several years later, managing the Coondee property, near Brookton, that features beautiful river loams through to white gum and some red gum gravels, and where he has been using the unique SE14 moisture attraction and retention agent from SACOA, Mr Morton is now praising its value.
||||With the dry starts to recent seasons, he considers SE14 a ‘good insurance policy’ and it has provided the confidence to dry-seed the farm’s whole cropping program. “If you only receive five millimetres, it is good insurance and if you receive an inch it will be paid for anyway,’’ said Mr Morton, who was previously involved in family farming operations at Kondinin and then later at Badgingarra.
||||“We took the gamble this year and put everything in dry. “We have done it before, but we have not been so gung-ho about it.’’
||||The property grows mainly oats, also for export hay, as well as barley, canola and lupins over 1000 hectares and runs 3500 mated Merino ewes Several years ago, a neighboring block was added to the property, comprising more gravelly country and non-wetting soils.

Lupin crops banded with the
SE14 moisture attraction and
retention agent from SACOA (right)
showed increases in total biomass,
pod numbers, root mass and
nodulation compared with lupin
plants in control strips that did not
receive SE14 (left).

“It needed a lot of work,” Mr Morton said.
||||“We planted a lot of Margureite clover to help manage rhizoctonia and grass weeds on the gravels.
||||“We apply Lure H20, also from SACOA, in February to take advantage of any summer storms and it bloody works to get the zargureite up and going.
||||“We also use SE14 when seeding the clovers and it really helps to get them established.
||||“They really responded well.’’
||||SE14 is now banded with all crops at three litres per hectare, via an Ausplow DBS bar.
||||“We think it works with the way crops are looking and the root growth,” Mr Morton said.

Coondee farm manager Scott Morton (left) and SACOA western regional manager Damon Fleay check the strong growth of barley sown with the company’s SE14 moisture attraction and retention agent

||||“The export oats all get up nice and even, which is important for cutting time.
||||“We grow them on the better country and target high yields.
||||“With the high price for lupins and my experience growing them at Badgingarra, we tried them for the first time this year on some high gravelly country with the SE14 and the response has been very good.
||||“We left some control strips and not only did we get even germination, but increases in total biomass, pod numbers, root mass and nodulation.
||||“Where the SE14 was applied, we got about 85 per cent germination.
||||“Where it wasn’t, the germination was under 50pc.
||||“Then when it rained, we got 100pc germination with the SE14 within two weeks.
||||“The untreated control strips took about two months.’’
||||The 12 metre (40ft) DBS bar and 12 tonne Simplicity airseeder, together with liquid fertiliser tank on it’s aframe, is pulled by a 373 kilowatt (500hp) John Deere 9530 tractor.
||||The seeding system is set on 25 centimetre tyne spacings, with a liquid kit fitted to the back of the boot to apply the SE14 with the seed.

||||A balanced NPKS compound fertiliser is banded below the seed, with all crops at 125 kilograms per hectare and the SE14 is applied in a mix with 55 litres per hectare of UAN liquid nitrogen fertiliser as well as copper, zinc and manganese at 250 grams per hectare, placed as close to the seed as possible.
||||Oats for export hay production is sown at 125kg/ha, grain oats at 100- 120kg/ha, lupins at 85kg/ha and barley at 85kg/ha.
||||This season, seeding commenced around April 10, with lupins followed by the oat program.
||||“On April 28, we recorded about 6mm of rain and everything we seeded germinated evenly in the warm conditions,’’ Mr Morton said.
||||A further 24mm was received during the week of May 5. Mr Morton said strong early crop establishment also resulted in good competition against weeds and the evenness of crops meant the timing of post-emergent spraying was made a lot easier.
||||“This would be even more important in the Wheatbelt, where the timing of herbicide applications can be pretty critical,’’ he said.

||||AFTER experiencing the ‘king of non-wetting’ country on the sandy gravels at Badgingarra, Scott Morton was largely a non-believer in soil wetting agents.
||||Several years later, managing the Coondee property, near Brookton, that features beautiful river loams through to white gum and some red gum gravels, and where he has been using the unique SE14 moisture attraction and retention agent from SACOA, Mr Morton is now praising its value.
||||With the dry starts to recent seasons, he considers SE14 a ‘good insurance policy’ and it has provided the confidence to dry-seed the farm’s whole cropping program. “If you only receive five millimetres, it is good insurance and if you receive an inch it will be paid for anyway,’’ said Mr Morton, who was previously involved in family farming operations at Kondinin and then later at Badgingarra.
||||“We took the gamble this year and put everything in dry. “We have done it before, but we have not been so gung-ho about it.’’
||||The property grows mainly oats, also for export hay, as well as barley, canola and lupins over 1000 hectares and runs 3500 mated Merino ewes Several years ago, a neighboring block was added to the property, comprising more gravelly country and non-wetting soils.

Lupin crops banded with the
SE14 moisture attraction and
retention agent from SACOA (right)
showed increases in total biomass,
pod numbers, root mass and
nodulation compared with lupin
plants in control strips that did not
receive SE14 (left).

“It needed a lot of work,” Mr Morton said.
||||“We planted a lot of Margureite clover to help manage rhizoctonia and grass weeds on the gravels.
||||“We apply Lure H20, also from SACOA, in February to take advantage of any summer storms and it bloody works to get the zargureite up and going.
||||“We also use SE14 when seeding the clovers and it really helps to get them established.
||||“They really responded well.’’
||||SE14 is now banded with all crops at three litres per hectare, via an Ausplow DBS bar.
||||“We think it works with the way crops are looking and the root growth,” Mr Morton said.

Coondee farm manager Scott Morton (left) and SACOA western regional manager Damon Fleay check the strong growth of barley sown with the company’s SE14 moisture attraction and retention agent

||||“The export oats all get up nice and even, which is important for cutting time.
||||“We grow them on the better country and target high yields.
||||“With the high price for lupins and my experience growing them at Badgingarra, we tried them for the first time this year on some high gravelly country with the SE14 and the response has been very good.
||||“We left some control strips and not only did we get even germination, but increases in total biomass, pod numbers, root mass and nodulation.
||||“Where the SE14 was applied, we got about 85 per cent germination.
||||“Where it wasn’t, the germination was under 50pc.
||||“Then when it rained, we got 100pc germination with the SE14 within two weeks.
||||“The untreated control strips took about two months.’’
||||The 12 metre (40ft) DBS bar and 12 tonne Simplicity airseeder, together with liquid fertiliser tank on it’s aframe, is pulled by a 373 kilowatt (500hp) John Deere 9530 tractor.
||||The seeding system is set on 25 centimetre tyne spacings, with a liquid kit fitted to the back of the boot to apply the SE14 with the seed.

||||A balanced NPKS compound fertiliser is banded below the seed, with all crops at 125 kilograms per hectare and the SE14 is applied in a mix with 55 litres per hectare of UAN liquid nitrogen fertiliser as well as copper, zinc and manganese at 250 grams per hectare, placed as close to the seed as possible.
||||Oats for export hay production is sown at 125kg/ha, grain oats at 100- 120kg/ha, lupins at 85kg/ha and barley at 85kg/ha.
||||This season, seeding commenced around April 10, with lupins followed by the oat program.
||||“On April 28, we recorded about 6mm of rain and everything we seeded germinated evenly in the warm conditions,’’ Mr Morton said.
||||A further 24mm was received during the week of May 5. Mr Morton said strong early crop establishment also resulted in good competition against weeds and the evenness of crops meant the timing of post-emergent spraying was made a lot easier.
||||“This would be even more important in the Wheatbelt, where the timing of herbicide applications can be pretty critical,’’ he said.