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Tips for Managing Grazing Cereal Crops this Winter

It is that time of the year where grazing cereal crops can play an important role in many livestock enterprises. Grazing winter cereals helps with feed shortage in the cooler months and helps to spread income risk through utilizing high quality feeds and has been shown to reduce weed biomass at harvest (Dr Hugh Dove, CSIRO Research, GRDC GroundCover issue 109, March 2014).


Monitoring crop growth is important to ensure that the crop is not grazed too early (before the plant is well anchored) and that it is not grazed past GS30/GS31 as this will cause impacts with grain yield. By implementing a small ‘exclusion cage’ in the crop (stop animals grazing the crop in the cage), will allow the crop to be monitored accurately and stock to be removed at the appropriate time to avoid any grain penalties.


Stocking rates will vary depending on the animals production requirements but the ‘rule of thumb’ according to CSIRO research suggests grazing at about 1000kg of stock liveweight per hectare (33 sheep and 30kg each or 3 cattle at 330kg each) is most beneficial to get the most out of your cereal.


It is also important that livestock performance is not reduced by mineral deficiency or imbalance and that ewes lambing do not reach an excessive body condition score at late trimester as this will cause lambing problems. Cereal crops are very high in potassium and low in magnesium, salt and calcium. It is important that mineral supplements are on offer as this is the perfect diet to induce Grass Tetany, Ketosis, Milk Fever or Twin Lamb disease when grazing at lambing or pre-lambing. High levels of potassium in the diet limit the absorption of magnesium in the gut and this is another reason why mineral supplements need to be on offer to ensure that livestock weight gains continue throughout the grazing period. It is also important that all livestock about to graze a cereal crop are up to date with vaccinations as pulpy kidney is likely to occur in this situation.


The following table produced by GRDC demonstrates the importance of providing mineral supplements when grazing cereals to increase liveweight gains.

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Source: Cattle data courtesy of Rebecca van Es, University of Western Sydney, and Julian Minehan, Landmark, Goulburn.


Figure 1. Impact of mineral supplementation on the liveweight gains of sheep and cattle grazing dual-purpose wheat in south-east NSW and the ACT.


By contacting your local Western AG Animal Health Specialist, we can advise you on the correct mineral supplements for your livestock. We can also help to create an effective vaccination program to avoid metabolic issues when grazing, ensuring you can get the best return for your livestock.

Article produced by - Emily Clothier, Western Ag Horsham

2020 Western AG Yield Maximisation Challenge

This year Western AG have established 4 Yield Max Challenge (YMC) sites across the wider Western AG network.


The YMC is a vehicle for the Western AG agronomists, together with key suppliers and local growers to strive further in our mission of increased profitability and productivity. The YMC allows us to see what the yield potential could be if we push the crops that little bit further than what otherwise might be not be “perceived” as commercially viable. We hope to create discussion within the wider ag community as we want farmers to recognise that Western AG are at the forefront of pushing crop yields in their local areas.


The site in Bordertown is located on Ted and Bill Langley’s property with Adelaide-Melbourne Highway frontage. We have a 20ha slice in a 160ha paddock, whereby throughout the course of the 3 year rotation of Canola – Wheat – Beans our goal is to consistently target for higher yields.


This years crop is canola, It was planted on 25th April to 45Y93CL. Below is a list of the key treatments we have made to the YMC area vs standard farmer practice.

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Observations of the trial this season so far –

We have seen no response to the extra 80kg of Single Super or the premium slug and snail bait Transcend.


We found moderate levels of Blackleg in crop at 6 leaf stage and decided to spray the crop in the trial area with Prosaro. Under normal circumstances this would not be done as it will be likely sprayed with Aviator at 20% Flowering.


Within a week, the line as to where the Prosaro was applied was clearly visible. Currently the key differences in paddock 7 weeks after Prosaro application are –

  • Shorter Crop Height- approx 6 inches less height in growth.

  • Much less blackleg lesions. The untreated has blackleg lesions on more than 50% of all leaves

  • Deeper dark green colour clearly visible upon inspection


Currently the weather is giving us a bit of a dry spell. The original target was to aim for 4t/ha of canola. This would require another spread of 100-120kg of Urea. The final decision on this will be made based on August Rainfall. If you have any further questions regarding this year’s Western AG YMC Please contact your local Western AG agronomist. Final yield results and treatments for all YMC sites will be published in this years 2020 Western AG ‘Informed’ technote.

Article produced by - Nathan Tink, Western AG Bordertown

Strategies for Maximizing Grain Yield Potential in HRZ Cereal Crops

Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) have been a product of interest in Victoria’s HRZ for some time now, they are currently registered for use in wheat, barley and oat crops in Victoria. PGRs work by inhibiting the plant hormone Gibberellin which regulates plant growth and stem elongation. There has been strong interest for PGR use in high yield potential areas of south west Victoria. Benefits can be seen in large biomass cereal crops with height and lodging reduction, improved harvest index and reduced grain losses. In some scenarios PGRs have been shown to slow crop maturity, which could be a useful tool for frost mitigation in early sown crops.


Recent wheat trial results from Southern Farming Systems (SFS) in 2019 have shown that with the right finish to the season there can be a standalone grain yield increase in wheat that is not the result of lodging reductions. Past trial results have shown that yield improvements do depend on the season conditions through spring and grain fill, as in dry finish years yields in wheat can be negatively impacted from the use of PGRs. Use of PGRs in barley has been regarded as consistently successful over several years now, especially with the ability to apply a PGR at GS37 as well as GS31 to improve peduncle strength and reduce head loss.

Figure 1. Height reduction observed in wheat treated with Moddus Evo at GS31 growth stage (Left) compared untreated wheat on the right.


Some of the current PGR products registered in Victoria are Moddus Evo (Syngenta) and Errex (Syngenta). Moddus evo is registered for use at GS31 in wheat, barley and oats and also for use at GS37 in barley. Errex is only to be used in wheat crops from GS25-31 and it is mainly used as a companion product for Moddus evo in some wheat scenarios.


Moddus evo is compatible with most fungicides which can be applied at the GS31 timing, however fungicides which do not require additional wetters are preferred. Likewise, some trace element formulations are compatible however caution should be exercised when adding broadleaf herbicides into the mix as there can be increased crop effects from more complex mixes. For the best return on investment PGRs are ideally to be applied in situations of high yield potential, when crops are not stressed nor limited by moisture and when nutrition is not a limiting factor.


If you are interested in PGR use in your crop please consult your Western AG agronomist. Please also contact your agronomist before applying any PGR in a mix with fungicide, herbicide or trace elements to confirm compatibility. For more information on ‘SFS 2019 PGR trial’ results please refer to their trial report which will be available in their 2019 results book.

Article produced by - Claudia Higgins, Western AG Hamilton/Willaura

ADAMA Launch New and Exciting Predictive Pest Network

Real-time predictive pest network a game changer for in-paddock pest monitoring. A NEW unique pest monitoring network is set to dramatically improve insect monitoring and crop checking processes for growers and agronomists across Australia.


The Trapview Predictive Pest Network developed by ADAMA, launches to the market this month as part of the company’s ongoing drive to provide Australian growers with the latest AgTech solutions to support their farming needs. ADAMA has been working with the Trapview technology in Australia for over seven years and can now offer Australian agriculture the first integrated network of smart insect traps for predicting pest pressure.

Figure 1. Trapview aggregated data across multiple locations showing the number of pests and the potential risk for neighbouring crops


Trapview utilises revolutionary technology in a fully integrated system to provide an innovative, simplified solution for growers, agronomists and researchers who need to monitor insect populations. It operates by capturing images and providing digital recognition of lured pests using Trapview smart traps. Pest populations and their dynamics are then shared across the network of traps allowing for near real time monitoring of pest movements across a large area. Photographs are captured daily and are then archived using a cloud-based system, allowing users to be aware of the pest situation in the field.


ADAMA is currently deploying over 500 automated pest detection units into the field for this season targeting Helicoverpa Punctigera (Native budworm) along with other important pests like Green Mirid in cotton, Codling Moth in apples and Diamond Back Moth in leafy veg.


The Helicoverpa network will stretch from the upper mid north of SA through to eastern Vic targeting the key pulse and canola growing regions that are impacted from budworm. Helicoverpa punctigera are a migratory pest that migrate from the central arid regions of Australia to the more southern and eastern agricultural regions of Australia. By setting up a dense network of traps across SA and Vic it allows agronomist to have full visibility of moth flights and get a better understanding of the potential pest pressure when they do arrive.

Figure 2. One of the key points of difference that Trapview offers is the developmental stage modelling as shown above.


This modelling takes the moth capture information and models out each development stage based on historical and forecast temperatures. Understanding development stages provides agronomists with valuable information on when to start their monitoring of crops for larvae and ensure the pest is controlled in a timely manner. This is a major step change in the detection and management of Helicoverpa Punctigera.  


ADAMA Australia is working closely with Western AG to install traps in pulse and canola crops throughout the Western District and Wimmera regions. To find out more about the Helicoverpa network please contact your local Western AG agronomist or Andrew Newall of ADAMA on 0418 224 422 or

Article produced by - Andrew Newall, ADAMA AgTech and Innovation Manager

Best Fungicide Options for Managing Disease in Wheat & Barley

With an outstanding start to the 2020 season and lots of early moisture, most crops are physiologically ahead compared to last year. We are beginning to see fugal disease.. creeping into our cereals despite the use of quality seed and fertiliser fungicide treatments.


Septoria Tritici Blotch in Wheat:

Off the back of a very wet start in 2019, there has been a strong trend in 2020 of early sowing with many growers choosing to grow popular winter wheat varieties and get them in the dirt by late march-early April. Most of the popular varieties are susceptible to Septoria Tritici Blotch (STB) and this early sowing has lifted disease pressure with increased early infection leading into winter. Septoria does not need a green bridge to survive over summer as it incubates on crop residue which allows it to spring up despite good summer weed control. The fruiting bodies (pseudothecia) which live on the stubble of previous years crops become windborne and can then travel over long distances and are the primary source of infection. The secondary source of infection is caused by short distance spread from spores called conidia which are produced on the infected leaves and are then splashed onto nearby leaves by raindrops. The disease needs long periods of leaf wetness to develop in the plant. There have been gene mutations in STB which are slowly making our Triazole (DMI) fungicides less effective against it, hence the need to combine different modes of action into products.

Figure 1. Typical Septoria Tritici blotch symptoms produced on young wheat leaf


Septoria Top Fungicide Options:

  • Radial – Commonly applied at the 500ml/ha rate in Sth West Vic ($17.3/ha) contains both a strobilurin and a triazole (epoxiconazole which is highly effective on STB) giving extended protectant activity and is a very strong option.

  • Soprano 500 – A new formulation of straight epoxiconazole used at 125ml/ha ($16.7/ha) which gives a robust rate of Epoxy that is systemic in the plant and is very effective on STB. A registration extension has given it a 3-week withholding period for cutting crops for stock feed.

  • Aviator Xpro – Is the first registered foliar fungicide in cereals in Australia containing an SDHI, giving us a different MOA to reduce the risk of resistance building up against in DMI and Strobilurin products. Commonly used around 500ml/ha rate in high disease pressure ($27.25/ha) it is costly but does a great job and protects our other chemistry from developing resistance from over exposure.


Septoria control Strategy:

  • Avoid Sowing wheat on wheat as Septoria survives on stubble. One year out of wheat is highly effective at reducing disease expression.

  • If sowing wheat on wheat make sure to get a good burn and do not sow too early.

  • Avoid sowing varieties with the lowest Septoria disease rating.

  • Spray a suitable fungicide (as indicated above) around GS31-33 (when the crop has between 1-3 detectable nodes in main stem). This will keep the disease inhibited before the canopy closes up and humidity and moisture within the canopy increase.


Figure 2. Cereal growth stage GS31. First node detected in the main stem


  • In years of good moisture heading into spring it is very important to apply a flag leaf GS37-39 fungicide in addition to the GS31 spray. GS37-39 is when the flag leaf becomes visible to fully unrolled. Depending on conditions, this spray can be critical as it will protect the top three leaves which are responsible for the majority of grain yield in wheat. Radial is a very popular choice for this growth stage.


Rotating Modes of Action:

Nick Poole (Managing director of FAR Australia) has been looking closely at Septoria and has determined it to be the most serious fungal disease of southern Australia. His work shows that DMI chemistry develops resistance slowly. We are highly reliant on DMI’s and so we must protect it by rotating it with other groups like those in Aviator Xpro and Radial which combine DMIs with other modes of action such as the strobilurin and SDHI’s. Full resistance to entire modes of action over in Europe is common and Nick is hoping that we can avoid the same fate in Australia. DMI’s develop resistance slowly where as strobilurin and SDHI groups are in a much higher risk category and so a strict rotation must be used to avoid resistance. He also supports only using fungicides where required and not over applying.


Stripe Rust in Wheat

According to Professor Robert Park of the university of Sydney, the first detection of stripe rust in wheat for 2020 has already been made near Dubbo in NSW. It was made on the 24th of June 2020. In the 40 years that stripe rust has been in Eastern Australia the average date that its been first detected in wheat is the 13th of July and so this year it has come a little earlier than normal. This first detection timing is important as it marks the onset of disease development and the earlier this happens in the crop cycle, the greater the epidemic potential.

This being said we should make sure that we closely monitor our crops as we can expect to see it soon. Detailed monitoring will be important for those varieties that are more susceptible to the new stripe rust strain such as Trojan. Generally, if we follow a good Septoria fungicide program with two fungicides then stripe rust is not going to be much of an issue.


Fungal Disease in Barley

The main foliar diseases of Barley continue to be Net blotch (both spot and net form) and Scald. The combination of improved seed treatments and new foliar sprays has given us good options to limit these diseases. Like in wheat, the GS31 timing for fungicides is critical for managing disease through the canopy. Options for improved seed treatments such as Systiva (SDHI) paired with a well timed GS31 foliar fungicide have been producing very clean crops. We must ensure that we protect the SDHI Mode of Action by not using a foliar fungicide containing an SDHI if Systiva has already been used on the seed.


Top Fungicide options:

  • Top Notch – This is a new fungicide that contains both a DMI and a Strobilurin component and is used around the 500ml/ha mark ($18.7/ha). Top Notch is a great option around growth stage GS31 to keep the canopy clean from disease. It is both a curative and a protectant giving good activity across the barley disease spectrum. Topnotch is the new benchmark for disease control in Barley.

  • Prosaro – Tried and tested product that has been very popular over the years and still getting very good performance. Made up of two strong DMI actives and is commonly used around the 230ml rate ($17.1/ha).


If you have any questions around fungicide use and control strategies, please do not hesitate to contact your local Western Ag Agronomist.

Article produced by - Lachlan Bullen, Western AG Ballarat/Derrinallum

Cattle Lice Active this Winter

As the weather becomes cooler and we head into winter we will see cattle lice populations become active. Louse activity and populations are the highest in the winter months and lowest in the summer months. This is due to the cooler weather, cooler skin temperatures and a denser winter coat favouring their survival.


There are many treatments for lice, however an Ivermectin based pour on tends to be the most effective on lice (both sucking and biting) with a repeat application within a 2-3 week period (providing there is no resistance to the active).

If worms are also of concern it is possible to treat with a number of other pour on or injectable products. However, when choosing an active and product (Pour on or Injectable) you must be aware of the parasite being treated i.e. Is it a biting or sucking louse? This will determine whether to use a pour on or injectable.


The reason it’s advised to re-treat within a 2-3 week period is because most insecticides registered for use on cattle are not very active against the louse eggs; a follow-up treatment 2–3 weeks post initial treatment is highly recommended to achieve control. This allows time for the eggs to hatch but not to mature into adults which will then lay eggs and repeat the cycle.


The life cycle of both the biting and sucking lice are very similar with eggs laid taking 8-19 days to hatch into nymphs. The nymphs then undergo three moults on the beasts before developing into adults with the entire life cycle taking between 3 and 6 weeks.

Eradication:  Assuming that there is no resistance to the chemical used, eradication of lice should be relatively simple providing the following is strictly adhered to:

1. Treat all cattle and ensure that you repeat the treatment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

2. Ensure that the dose rate is accurate. Preferably weigh all cattle and dose to the heaviest. 

3. Treat all cattle on the property at the same time (prior to calving where possible). Choose a time when they are not stressed or in poor condition.




If groups are treated separately, ensure that there is no contact possible between treated and untreated mobs. 

4. Immediately after treatment, move treated groups to a paddock that has not had cattle in it for at least a week. 

5. Ensure that no contact with neighbouring cattle is possible, either through straying or by contact across fences.   


Consider a treatment in autumn before louse numbers build up. This will allow a longer ‘test period’ of cold weather to follow the treatment allowing a better gauge on whether eradication has been successful.


For further enquiries or advice please feel free to contact the team at Western Ag Supplies.

Article produced by - Janette Densley, Western AG Naracoorte

Mice Activity Threatening Winter Crop Establishment

Currently mouse numbers are moderate/high in a band across SE South Australia and NW Victoria with numbers expected to peak at sowing of winter crops in Southern Australia. Mice can cause significant crop damage, loss of livestock feed/fodder, contamination of stored grain and spread of disease. Mice have continued to breed in strong numbers through this year’s summer/Autumn period. This is a result of good spring and summer rains and having grain left in the paddocks offering a quality feed source enabling mice to breed. We have seen similar years like this like back in 2016/2017 season following strong summer rains, with 2011 being the last official mice ‘plague’ year. In each of these years we have received good summer rains and had grain on the ground generally from storm damage, frosting or allowed volunteers to re-establish and set seed.

Figure 1. March 2020 approximate mice location and relative abundance according to the GRDC ‘Monitoring of Mouse Populations Across Australia’ project.


Mice have the ability to cause significant economic loss if not controlled. Growers should actively monitor mouse activity through chew cards or burrow counts to determine management. To determine active burrow threshold simply walk in 100m x 1m straight transect along the sowing furrow and count the number of burrows that look active. Repeat the process across 2-4 transects and if there are more then 2-3 active burrows per 100m then threshold has been reached. Mouse chew cards are also a good way of tracking mouse activity. The 10 x 10cm pre-soaked canola/linseed oil cards should be set at night, pegged down and spaced 10m apart in the paddock. Thresholds are as follows; <10 squares per card eaten = low to moderate activity, >10 squares per card eaten = Moderate to high activity and >20 squares per card eaten = high to very high mouse activity.

Figure 2. Mouse chew cards used for monitoring activity (L) and an active mice hole observed out in the paddock (R).


We are currently seeing isolated areas of high activity in SW Victoria in paddocks that had good summer rain, grain on the ground and generally paddocks that were burnt late. If a paddock has a combination of these factors a thorough check is recommended. Peak mice activity is generally at night, this will provide the most accurate representation of activity. Damage has already been observed in early April sown canola and winter wheat crops. Please refer to the below management recommendations for mouse control prior to sowing your crops this season.

  1. Paddock Monitoring; Monitor for mice numbers prior to sowing; active burrow counts & mouse chew cards.

  2. Reduce ground cover and food source; Strategic tillage to burry food source, burning stubble residue and livestock grazing to reduce risk.

  3. Baiting with Zinc Phosphide; Products such as Mouseoff 2.5% ZP applied at label rate 1kg/ha to achieve even coverage of 2-3 grain/m2.

  4. Manage over large areas; Coordinating management with neighbours to reduce chance or reinvasion


Please consult with your Western AG agronomist today if you suspect your crops may be at risk of mice damage. As always being proactive rather then reactive is the best form of management!

Article produced by - Brendan Smith, Western AG Ballarat

The Importance of Deep Nitrogen and Sulphur Testing for Crop Nutrition Management

Deep Nitrogen and Sulphur subsoil tests provide growers with a snapshot of the availability of these nutrients in their soils and is used as a tool to create a more informed fertiliser topdressing decision.


Nitrogen and sulphur are essential elements in plant nutrition, being required for a range of plant functions and structures. The major supply pathway of these elements to broadacre pastures and crops is facilitated through the soil in the root zone, where a range of nitrogen and sulphur containing compounds are often present. The proportions and concentrations of these compounds in the soil changes over time due to a range of factors.


Soil moisture and temperature are two factors that tend to indirectly affect the composition of the soil nitrogen ‘pool’, largely due to the direct effect of these factors on soil microbes associated with the nitrogen cycle. The significant 2019/20 summer rainfall events across many districts in South East Australia along with periods of relatively mild summer temperatures have led to warm and moist soils for considerable periods of time. Warm, moist soils under the right conditions are known to stimulate the activity of nitrogen-mineralising bacteria and so there is likely to be significant net nitrogen mineralisation during this period. The continuation of warm, moist soils into the Autumn in areas would have likely increased this potential even further. Consequently, it is likely that there will be increased reserves of plant-available (mineralised) nitrogen leading into the 2020 Winter cropping season, however the extent of this will vary from paddock to paddock.      


Nitrate, ammonium and sulphate are inorganic compounds of nitrogen and sulphur respectively and play a critical role in the take-up of these nutrients into plants. These compounds behave similarly in soil being that they are very mobile. This common feature contributes to the ability of the plant root to take in these compounds through the soil solution as it does to their tendency to move/leach down through the soil profile, especially under wet conditions. Particularly in the HRZ of Western Vic leaching is one of the major ‘loss’ pathways by which nitrogen and sulphur leave the root zone and can have a significant effect on the availability of these nutrients to plants. In broadacre cropping systems losses of these nutrients through processes such as leaching, unless corrected, can lead to nutritional deficiencies that restrict crop production/quality. The replacement of nitrogen and sulphur back into these systems is generally achieved with fertiliser applications (e.g. urea and sulphate of ammonia), however the various forms of these nutrients in these applications are all ultimately prone to the same loss pathways. While these nutrients can leach down through the soil and away from the immediate root zones of establishing crops and pastures, their accumulation deeper down the soil provides a potential source of nitrogen and sulphur for more established root systems later in the season. 


In Australian Broadacre cropping systems deep (typically down to 60cm in the soil profile) soil samples are collected and analysed to give an indication of mineralised nitrogen (nitrate and ammonium) and sulphur (sulphate) available to crops in the subsoil. Taking deep ‘N+S’ samples during the Autumn/Winter period is critical to determining what nutrient levels are in your soils. Growers and advisors are then able to make more accurate decisions around fertiliser rates and timing, in the hope of maximising yields and return on investment. Western AG is currently collaborating with Precision Agriculture in the implementation of deep N+S soil sampling programs, on behalf of Western AG clients. If you would like to know more about deep N+S soil sampling or to arrange a paddock sampling program, please feel free to contact your local Western AG Agronomist.

Article produced by - Darcy Bullen, Western AG Nhill

Western AG COVID-19 Strategy: A Message to Clients and the Community

With rising cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the landscape has changed considerably with Federal and State Governments now implementing multiple stages of regulations and restrictions. There have been radical changes to businesses, services and activities that facilitate social gatherings and a multiple of the changes covering a huge range of what the Government have now deemed “non-essential” services. We recommend you follow to keep fully up to date.

Currently, the Agriculture Service chain is considered an “essential service” and is permitted to continue operations. For obvious reasons, it will only remain so for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic if we adapt and change the way we conduct business. 

At Western AG, we always prioritise the safety of our staff, clients and valued contacts and have adopted a range of measures to minimise potential exposure to COVID-19. At this time, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your understanding as we in put place these proactive changes to ensure that we can provide an uninterrupted advisory and input supply service.

The basic Western AG message to clients has not changed, none of the current changes affect our ability to trade and our client servicing capability. 

The way we trade has been modified to adapt and specific situations now exist.


  • All of our Branches remain open and we are fully operational.

  • Our offices within a Branch are closed to public access. Only essential staff can enter.

  • Clients can still access our warehouses, but we are asking clients to not enter our offices at any stage and, where possible, place orders and conduct business via email, SMS or phone. Our staff can ring through orders on a client’s behalf if preferable.

  • If clients are collecting inputs from a Western AG location, we are asking individuals to remain in their vehicle except as required to restrain loads.

  • Goods can still be delivered on-farm from our facilities by Western AG operational staff.

  • Professional drivers are not allowed to enter a Western AG office or warehouse. This includes contract freight company drivers and logistics staff from other Western AG Branches.

  • Inward / outward goods drivers, including clients, are to only exit their vehicles to remove or position load constraints and are to remain in their vehicles during unloading / loading. 

  • We have asked our staff to observe an increased social distancing of 3m and to practice personal hygiene as per government guidelines to reduce virus transfer risk.


Meetings, Visitations and Paddock Inspections:

  • We have all our agronomists based from their home and not from within the Branches. This protects our clients, enabling contact to still be made in the field as required, with the added benefits of restricting unnecessary employee movement throughout our facilities.

  • Where possible, our preference is to inspect paddocks independently and report back to the client via email, SMS or phone. Clients can still follow by alternative means if desired.

  • Staff are not to meet in client’s homes or travel in the same vehicle. 

  • Staff are to travel individually and, if practical and necessary, not share vehicles.

  • Unnecessary visitation to stores by clients or non-essential personnel is discouraged.


Additional Workplace Conditions for Western AG staff:

  • Travel:

    • Freight & logistics of product, necessary for production purposes, is allowed.

    • Agronomists and Animal Health (AH&G) Specialists are determined as “essential travellers” when crossing the SA / Vic border as they are undertaking skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses.

    • Domestic travel for business purposes is suspended until further notice.

    • International travel is banned until further notice.

    • Staff do not travel with clients in a vehicle at the same time.

  • Meetings:

    • All face to face meetings with Suppliers has been suspended until further notice and will only be held by phone or video link.

    • Staff will avoid large gatherings / groups / field days.

  • Staff Movements:

    • The Agronomy team are working remotely from home and only entering Branch facilities as absolutely required.

    • The AH&G Specialists are maintaining an in-store presence with restricted client contact.

    • Key Management staff are working from home, or in isolated areas within a facility.

    • Any persons entering a Western AG warehouse are to be requested to confirm that they are medically well and are not in social isolation.

    • Administration personnel are to only use their own workstation, computer and phone.


Basic Hygiene Guidelines

  • Staff will conduct basic hygiene practices to minimise the risk of exposure to Coronavirus. 

    • If you are ill, remain at home. 

    • If you think you need medical attention, phone your GP or the hotline first and they’ll tell you what to do.

    • Practise good hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly. 

    • Employ appropriate cough etiquette by coughing into your elbow.

    • Other measures should include not touching your face, and instead of your fingers, using your knuckle, a pen or an ID card to activate lift buttons.

    • Wearing a mask is not the best preventive measure. 

  • Continue to exercise, eating healthy food, drinking water and getting adequate sleep.

  • If close proximity / contact is unavoidable with staff or clients:

    • Confirm you are medically well.

    • Maintain at least 3m distance.

    • No hand shaking.


If anyone has any further concerns, they can speak directly to the COVID-19 hotline which is available  24 hours, 7 days
on 1800 675 398. Please do not call 000 as this is for emergencies only.


The Western AG Executive Team are meeting regularly and will communicate any further measures as needed to ensure the safety of our staff and the communities in which we live and work. These measures certainly feel foreign to us, due to the strong personal relationships we hold with our clients, and we are looking forward to the situation returning to normal. In the meantime, just stay safe.

The Western AG Team

Western AG 2020 Pre Sowing Update

At the time of writing the Victorian Wimmera/Mallee and South East South Australia has had between 80 and 100mm of rainfall for the year. South West Victoria has had between 150 to over 200mm for the same period. This has provided useful soil moisture reserves if summer weeds have been controlled. In the South the summer rain has sustained perennial pastures nicely and many growers have allowed volunteer crop to grow for livestock grazing.


The El Nino – Southern Oscillation Index and Indian Ocean Dipole have been predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to remain neutral through the Southern Winter supporting average rainfall for this period. The shorter-term April to June period BOM forecast is for slightly above average rainfall for the Wimmera/Mallee and SE South Australia and average for SW Victioria.


The large reduction in the value of the Australian dollar has seen strong forward pricing for grains. For example, this coming season Melbourne/Geelong delivered ASW is above $330/t, malt barley around $280/t and Canola $625/t. Unfortunately, the exchange rate change has led to significant and rapid increases in fertiliser pricing which has been challenging to manage.


In summary the outlook for this season is very strong, the challenge for us all is to ensure crops and pastures are sown in a timely fashion with good agronomic practices, and livestock programs are optimally managed to ensure farm profitability is maximised.


We are following the development of COVID-19 on a virtually hour by hour basis and putting in strategies in advance to minimise disruption to our services. We are pleased to say that social distancing strategies and having Agronomists working from home is working well. We have received some very supportive messages in response to our client email updates. Our absolute focus is ensuring clients receive the service and inputs they need during this critical time and thank you for your support with this. Western AG will be continuing to supply updates on this situation through phone, email and eNote publications.

Article produced by - Phil Hawker, Western AG Derrinallum

Strategies for Managing Glyphosate Resistant Weeds on Your Farm

There are a number of strategies that can be implemented to manage Glyphosate and other chemically resistant weeds. There are also important strategies that should be used to minimise potential resistance in weed populations forming if it isn’t currently on your farm. Strategies can include double knocks, cultural practices and mechanical practices.

Double knock strategies

Double knock refers to two sprays of weeds approximately 7 days apart. Double knocks can consist of paraquat-paraquat or glyphosate (Group M)-paraquat (Group L), it is always important to mix/rotate MOAs so if weeds are tolerant to one MOA they will be taken out by the other. Using glyphosate in the first spray and paraquat in the second should take out any survivors of the glyphosate spray, full label rates should always be used. Depending on the weeds present in the paddock more specific broadleaf sprays (for example 2,4 D (Group I)) could be incorporated or paraquat+diquat mix used instead of a paraquat only.

Cultural practices & Mechanical control

It is always important to minimise weed competitiveness and hit them with a non-chemistry control as well, the greater mix in control tactics reduces their chance to adapt. There are a range of weed management options to minimise resistance forming which include cultural practices and mechanical controls to reduce weed numbers and their competitiveness in the paddock, these include:


Cultural Practice:

  • Strategic tilling

  • Double knock

  • Rotate herbicide Mode Of Action (MOA)

  • Apply herbicides at label rates

  • Rotate crop and variety.

  • Cut for hay

  • Crop and pasture topping

  • Graze

Increase Crop Competitiveness:

  • Crop and variety selection

  • Crop spacing

  • Sowing time

  • Crop row orientation (sowing North – South)

  • Soil fertility

  • Disease and pest management


Harvest Weed Seed Control:

  • Narrow windrow burning

  • Chaff tramlining

  • Chaff carts

  • Bale direct

Always monitor weed populations and don’t forget that if reduced efficacy is observed in the paddock after sprays, perform herbicide resistance tests to determine the most effective control.
If there are any concerns with resistant weeds on your farm please consult with your Western AG  agronomist today on how best to manage.

Article produced by - Adrik Wright, Western AG Ballarat

Targeting Optimal Canola Plant Densities at Sowing

Getting canola establishment right the first time is critical to ensuring a strong return at the end of the season. While there are many factors impacting establishment, targeting the correct plant density for your growing region and paddock scenario is an important starting point. Seed size, germination percentage and field establishment should also be taken into consideration as they will determine the seeding rate that is required to reach the desired plant density.

Figure 1: The equation above can be used to calculate the seeding rate required to reach the desired plant density during planting.

Optimal plant densities can vary depending on whether an open-pollinated or hybrid variety is used, what the weed burden is in the paddock and on what the target yield for the paddock is. In high rainfall areas target sowing densities can range between 40-60 plants per m2 for open pollinated varieties and 30-40 plants per m2 for hybrid varieties. 


While it may be tempting to reduce optimal plant densities when sowing hybrid varieties, caution should be exercised as having less plants per m2 can leave you susceptible to larger losses at the end of the season. Environmental factors such as insect, slug or mice damage can take out plants in the establishment phase which can reduce the number of plants and hence the yield potential of the crop. Having low densities can also reduce yields due to lack of biomass at flowering and can cause the crop to mature unevenly. Plant densities that are too high can cause plants to have thin and weak stems with less branches to set pods on.

Figure 2: An example of how canola physiological structure changes with plant density. Note the plant on the left sown at low density has matured more slowly, while the plant on the right sown at high density has a tall and thin stem with few branches.

When planting both open pollinated and hybrid canola it is important to take grain weight into consideration. The size and therefore the weight of seed can vary significantly from season to season and even from paddock to paddock. The greater the seed size is, the higher the sowing rate needs to be to achieve target plant density. While purchasing seeds of smaller size may seem like more value for money, seeds of a larger size are typically more robust and have better vigour than smaller seeds. 


Finally, knowing how well your seed is going to germinate will assist in reaching target plant density. While germination percentages are provided when purchasing hybrid canola seed it is important to test the germination percentage of open pollinated seed if it has been retained on farm. If you would like to have a sample tested for germination percentage, vigour and grain weight please contact your local Western Ag Agronomist. 

Article produced by - Claudia Higgins, Western AG Hamilton/Willaura

Vaccination Pre-Lambing Pivotal for Ewe Health and Lamb Protection


Pre-lambing is a critical time point in the sheep production calendar. It is important that you implement a comprehensive pre-lambing ewe animal health program in order to protect your ewes as well as their lambs and help get more lambs through to marking. Ewe vaccination pre-lambing is very important in order to ensure ewes have maximum immune protection at the point of lambing, but also to ensure that lambs are given the best kick-start in life. It is important that strong colostral antibody protection is passed from the ewe to the lamb in the first milk (colostrum).

Two Doses of Vaccine Plus Boosters are Essential

Figure 1. Vaccination principles to ensure animal antibody levels do not fall below the protective level.


Worm control

Minimizing parasite burdens in ewes pre-lambing is also critical to ensure optimal performance from both ewes and lambs. Given the summer rains we have experienced this year, worm burdens have been significant. We recommend doing a FEC to assist in deciding on the best drench program to protect your ewes when their immune system is most compromised. Contact your local Western Ag Animal Health Specialist to arrange a FEC.


Ewe nutrition

There is a significant correlation between ewe condition score and lamb birth weight and survival. Optimum condition score for single baring ewes is CS 3 and no more than CS 4 and twin baring ewes is CS 3.3. Optimal birth weight for lamb survival is between 4.5 and 5.5 kg. Survival decreases significantly if lambs weigh less than 4 kg or more than 6kg at birth as shown below (Figure 3).

Figure 2 & 3. Direct relationship between ewe condition at lambing and lamb survival as shown above.


Monitor feed on offer (FOO) and ensure both twin and single baring ewes energy requirements are being met. If supplementary feeding is required, we have a team of animal health specialists and a nutritionist who can assist you in looking at the best options available. Depending on the quality of feed available we can also assist you with a range of mineral supplements. Put twin baring ewes in the paddocks with the most amount of feed on offer. The ewe needs to stay at her birth site for 6 hours to bond with the lamb. If there is enough FOO she won’t have to move from the site, therefore increasing lamb survival rate. Good pasture length will also offer shelter for newborn lambs again increasing lamb survival rate. The ewe’s energy requirements during lactation skyrockets, especially for your multiple baring ewes. At the peak of lactation, a 60kg twin baring ewe requires 31.9mj of energy per day. Failure to meet these requirements will result in lower weight gains in lambs and a loss in condition score for the ewe which could impact both her wool production and compromise her ability to conceive at her next joining.


Metabolic Issues

Whilst prevention is always best, unfortunately there will always be ewes that are susceptible to metabolic issues such as pregnancy toxaemia, hypocalcaemia and hypomagnesia. Early detection and treatment will increase the ewe and lambs chance of survival.

For pre-lambing, we highly recommend having the following on offer so if the ewe starts showing signs of any metabolic issues you can treat her immediately; Ketol, 4 in 1 Flo Pack and spray marker. Treat the ewe and mark her so she is easy to identify and continue to treat her until all symptoms have subsided.

Our team of Animal Health (AH&G) Specialist across the Western AG branches are here to assist you in making the most out of your lamb production. With all the current and ongoing challenges, we understand that it is busy time for farming, and we want you to know we are just a SMS or phone call away if you need any advice. We are fully operational and can organise your farming requirements with collection or delivery options available.

Article produced by - Raquel Tyler, Western AG Ballarat/Gisborne

Lucerne Seed Production In South Australia

Lucerne (Medicago sativa) is a perennial legume pasture that fixes nitrogen and has deep-rooted capacity (>two meters in length in favourable soils) found in mixed farming systems. An established stand can assist in addressing rising water tables and salinity.

There is a lot of lucerne grown for grazing and hay production, however seed production is quite concentrated with about 83% in the south east of South Australia specifically around Keith, Tintinara and Bordertown.

Lucerne seed cycle/ pollination

Lucerne is a summer dominant plant where production occurs quite quickly from vegetative- flowering- budding to seed set over around four months. Pollination is key in seed production and getting the optimal stress level (OSL) where the plant “trips” easiest occurs from water stress. However, this can be quite difficult to achieve but with improved technology i.e. moisture probes can assist growers in obtaining that OSL. If the plant gets too stressed pollination can stop and “stripping” of flowers can occur. The flower becomes aborted and that area on the stem can no longer achieve a viable bud. Honeybees are the main lucerne pollinator in Australia. The introduction of bees into the crop assists native bees and other pollinators in ‘tripping’ flowers to allow the crop to proceed from flowering to bud formation.


Certification/ uncertified

Most of the lucerne seed produced in Australia is either certified seed under protocols: OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), AOSCA (Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies); or uncertified/out of certification. Seed must be bought by OECD to be eligible to be certified and varieties are decided by contractual and current market demand.


Insect pests

Like in broadacre cropping, seed lucerne has similar problems in terms of insect pests which in peak season are monitored regularly to reduce pest impact on yield. Heliothis (H. punctiger) grubs and mirids can be a problem in early foliage up until pod formation. Seed wasp is another pest with crops at most risk at pod formation where adults lay eggs into developing seed resulting in damaged or half formed seed and therefore destroying it. Uncommonly, aphids can become a problem but rarely are they solely sprayed for. Once populations reach threshold which generally occurs between 10-14 days depending on the season an insecticide is recommended.



Lucerne requires a desiccation at approximately 90% black/brown pod before harvesting to reduce the moisture and even up the uniformity and percentage of black/brown pod. Within 5-10 days of desiccation harvest goes ahead with about 14% seed moisture. Seed must be cleaned before it is sold to produce “cleaned seed weight” which is what the grower gets paid on compared to straight off the header. For any further information in relation to this article please contact your Western AG agronomist.

Article produced by - Clare Svilans, Western AG Kaniva

2019 Season Update


Welcome to our final edition of Western AG eNote for this year. We hope you have found the information useful and easy to access. The eNote is an important medium for us to update clients on the latest production information and we have plans to make it even better next year.


At the time of writing we are getting early information on crop and hay yields from South East South Australia (SE, SA) and across to the Wimmera areas of Victoria. Canola yields have ranged from 1.5t to 3t/ha with higher than average oil content. Unfortunately, there has been reports of losses of up to 700kg/ha in canola from strong winds in the third week of November particularly in standing crops. Barley yields have been in the order of 2.5-4.5t/ha, with the better crops in SE/SA still to be harvested. Unfortunately some crops have also been impacted by wind.

Vetch and oaten hay crops in the Wimmera have been yielding in the order of 4t and 7t/ha respectively. The cooler finish to the season has resulted in higher than expect canola and cereal crop yields, however faba bean crop yields have been lower than expected, which has been in the range of 1.5-2.5t/ha.


Small areas of canola have been harvested in South West Victoria and crops have been yielding in excess of 2.5t/ha so far. Oaten hay crops have been exceptional with reports as high as 12t/ha yields. Favourable rainfall for the months of October and November and relatively frost and heat stress free conditions is resulting in some wheat and canola crops having yields as high as 8t and 3.5t/ha respectively.


On the marketing front, clients are reporting hay and feed grain is moving off farm very quickly reflecting sustained demand from drought affected areas. Factors such as a continued drought conditions in NSW and Queensland, a reduced Western Australia crop and reports of worsening winter wheat crops in the US and Europe has some grain traders forecasting wheat and barley pricing is likely to firm in the new year.


In closing, Southern Victoria and SE/SA are likely to experience a combination of above average production levels and commodity prices this year. However, our thoughts need to be with farmers in other parts of the country that are not as fortunate, suffering severe drought conditions.


We would also like to take this opportunity to wish all our clients and families a successful years end, a safe and happy Christmas and a productive 2020.


Thank you for the support you have given our business and we look forward to working with you into the future.

Article produced by - Phil Hawker, Western AG Derrinallum

Canola and Pulse Variety Options For High Rainfall Zones (HRZ)

One of the most important and financially rewarding agronomic decisions you can make is what varieties you should be growing on your farm. Now that harvest has begun it is a great opportunity to assess how the varieties you are running with have stacked up to both existing and new varieties specific to your area. A great source for this information is the online National Variety trials (NVT) website (


Below is a list of the best performing canola and pulse varieties for HRZ compiled from NVT data and local information.



Quartz (Nuseed): Mid Maturity hybrid of a medium height and is good replacement for AV Garnet. Suited to the high rainfall zone with a blackleg rating of R. This variety has a strong yield advantage over Garnet and other conventional varieties. This variety has been performing very well and shown to be high yielding.


Triazine Tolerant Hybrid (TT)

HyTTec Trophy (Nuseed): Early to mid-maturing hybrid variety with a medium to tall plant height. It has a blackleg rating of R-MR and is showing to be the top performer in the NVT trials since its release in 2017. Its earlier maturity makes it a good candidate for pre windrow spray topping.


Ignite (Seed Force): Mid Maturing hybrid well suited to the high rainfall zone in the western district. Has been one of the highest yielders in the local NVT trails and is a medium plant height. It has a blackleg rating of MR. Released 2016


Triazine Tolerant Open Pollinated (TT)

Wahoo (Nuseed): This long season variety still ranks no. 1 for yield in the open pollinated TT canola category in the HRZ thanks to its mid maturity that compensates well with late season rainfall.  It has a medium plant height and although the blackleg rating is only MS it is still yielding well when managed properly with a good fungicide strategy.


Clearfield Hybrid (CL)

45Y93 (Pioneer): The highest yielding spring CL canola in the HRZ. Early flowering time and a blackleg rating of R-MR with a medium plant height. Released in 2018.


Roundup Ready Hybrid (RR)

45Y28 (Pioneer): New benchmark variety in the roundup ready segment. This variety is a replacement of 45Y25 with good lifts in both yield and oil. Can be sown early in April awaiting opening rains and will show good early vigour while the soil is warm. Mid maturity with a R-MR medium – tall height.



Amberley (PBA): A new PBA variety being released for 2020. It is the first variety with moderate resistance to choc spot and is mid flowering, mid maturity. It has resistance to pathotype 1 & 2 of ascochyta blight and has good standing ability and lower level of necking. It has a yield advantage over Zahras making it the highest yielding variety in the HRZ. One thing to consider is the smaller grain size compared to Zahras which would make sowing the right number of plants/m2 easier.


Bendoc (PBA): A new variety released in 2018 that is the first bean line that has improved tolerance to some group B herbicides which allows improved broadleaf (radish) control and also means they can be sown into group B residue. Although not the highest yielding variety down south it is not far from the top performing varieties (Amberley and Zahra) making it a strong option. It has a medium sized bean and is resistant to moderately resistant to both ascochyta blight pathotype, chocolate spot S, cercospora leaf spot S and Rust S.


Zahra (PBA): In the longer season environment down south this variety has been a strong option since its release in 2016. It’s a late maturity variety with a large seed making it suitable for the middle east markets. Overall it has good tolerance to fungal disease.



Bateman (PBA): This variety was released in 2017 and has a yield advantage over Mandelups in the HRZ. There is an improved virus resistance in this variety compared to industry standards.


Please consult with your local Western AG agronomist today to discuss what canola and pulse variety options may suit your cropping program for season 2020.

Article produced by - Lachlan Bullen, Western AG Ballarat

Canola and Pulse Variety Options in the Wimmera/Mallee

With harvest now underway, it is important to look at what varieties may be best suited to your area to achieve the best possible yields.  A good resource to look at is the National Variety Trials (NVT) website to determine the best current and new performing varieties for your area.


Triazine Tolerant Hybrid (TT)

Trident (Nuseed):  An early maturing hybrid with medium to tall plant height. It is rated R for blackleg with a ABDF resistance group. Good alternative to Stingray, with better blackleg resistance and vigour. In NVT trials it is has had the best gross income in TT varieties up to 2T/ha, but there is only 1 year of data. It is also suited to later sowing if needed.


HyTTec Trophy (Nuseed): This variety has been the highest yielding TT hybrid in the Wimmera with a R-MR bare seed blackleg rating, followed closely by Invigor T 4510 with a MR-MS bare seed blackleg rating. Ignite TT has been going well further south.


Triazine Tolerant Open Pollinated (TT)

Flathead (Nuseed): Early maturing replacement for Stingray. It has a short to medium height and is suited to low to medium rainfall areas. It has an estimated blackleg rating of MR (company rating) and no resistance group yet.


Hybrid Clearfield/Triazine Tolerant (CL/TT)

Hyola 580CT (Pacific Seeds): Early-mid hybrid variety suited to medium to high rainfall zones. It has a R Blackleg rating with a BC rating.  It is an alternative to other early-mid varieties such as Bonito, Hyola 559, Invigor T 4510 and Trophy. Generally yielding above Bonito, and 5.5% less than 559, 7% less than 44T02 and around 12% less than Trophy and 11% less yield than 4510 in Wimmera NVT’s. 


Truflex Canola Varieties

Hyola 410XX (Pacific Seeds): Early to mid Truflex hybrid variety suited to low to High rainfall zones. It has an estimated (Company) blackleg rating of R.


Invigor R4022P (BASF): Early-mid maturing Truflex hybrid with podguard technology, suited to low to medium rainfall zones. Estimated (Company) blackleg rating of R with Jockey. 


Xseed Raptor (Nuseed): Early-mid maturing Truflex hybrid with a short to medium height. It has an estimated (Company) blackleg rating of MR and hasn’t got a resistant group yet.  It is an alternative to GT53 and other roundup ready varieties, with a slight yield advantage over GT53, but all these Truflex varieties have limited NVT yield data.


Truflex Dual Herbicide Varieties

Hybrid Hyola 530XT (Pacific Seeds): Mid maturity Truflex and triazine tolerant hybrid variety. It has a medium plant height, and has an estimated (company) blackleg rating of RMR


Hybrid Hyola 540XC (Pacific Seeds): Early-mid maturity Truflex and clearfield hybrid with medium-high plant height. It has an estimated (company) rating of R.



Amberley (PBA):  A new faba bean variety being released for sowing in 2020. It is the first variety with moderate resistance to chocolate spot and is a mid-season with good resistance (MR/R) to both pathotypes 1 and 2 of ascochyta blight. It is also resistant to necking and is suited to higher rainfall areas. It has a medium grain size, and yield potential slightly higher than Bendoc, Samira and Zahra in the Wimmera but its yield potential over other varieties increases further as you go South of Horsham and Higher rainfall areas. 


Bendoc (PBA):  Released 2018 and is the first faba bean line with improved tolerance to some Group B herbicides. They are resistant to moderately resistant to both ascochyta blight pathotypes, and susceptible to chocolate spot, cercospora leaf spot and rust with a medium grain size.


Marne (PBA): Released in 2018. It has yielded 2% above PBA Amberley in NVT data and is currently the highest yielding variety in the Wimmera according to the 2020 Vic crop sowing guide. It is an early-mid flowering, high yielding faba bean that has shown adaption to the low rainfall and short season areas throughout southern Australia. The seed is light brown and medium in size, and suitable to co-mingling with current faba bean varieties for export into the major food markets of the Middle East. Ascochyta blight pathotype 1 RMR. Pathotype 2 MRMS, chocolate spot and cercospora S, rust MR, and PSbMV seed stain MR.


Royal (PBA): High yielding medium sized kabuli chickpea. It is well adapted to the medium rainfall areas of south eastern Australia. In these regions it has improved grain yields over mid – high yielding varieties (over 1.5T/ha) compared to Genesis 90, Monarch and Kalkee. It has a greater seed size than Genesis 90, but smaller than Monarch. It is an early-mid flowering and maturity, moderately susceptible to ascochyta blight in the southern region (similar to 090), and moderately resistant to ascochyta blight in the north. It is a semi spreading type plant similar to Genesis 090.


Highland XT (PBA): A new Lentil variety being released for 2020. It is a herbicide tolerant medium red lentil variety which will compliment other varieties such as PBA Hallmark and PBA Hurricane.  It is an early-mid maturing variety that has performed well in the drier areas such as the Mallee. It has good early vigour and early flowering, improved resistance to ascochyta blight, and MRMS to Botrytis Grey Mould. It is the best yielding variety in the Mallee on average in NVT’s. PBA Bolt and PBA Jumbo 2 are both going well in the Mallee but around 5% less yield on average to Highland.


PBA Jumbo 2, and Hallmark are the best 2 yielding Lentils in the Wimmera. Hallmark lentils would be the variety of choice if a Clearfield is required.



There are no new vetch varieties for the 2020 planting season. The following Vetch varieties are still commonly grown in the Wimmera and Mallee, starting with the earliest flowering variety which is generally grown north and the latest maturing Variety grown south.


Volga (early), Rasina, Blanchefleur and Timok (good mid variety), Morava, Popany, Benatas (late)



There are no new field pea varieties for 2020. 


Percy (PBA): The 2nd best variety according to NVT yields in the Mallee. It’s a very early flowering and maturing conventional pea, similar to Parafield producing a dun type grain. Percy needs to be managed for most diseases but is moderately resistant to bacterial blight which is a big concern to field pea growers. The variety has a poor lodging resistance so requires a specialised pea pick up front.


Pearl (PBA): The best yielding variety in the Mallee (5% more than Percy) with good agronomics but is moderately susceptible to bacterial blight. It is also the highest yielding pea in the Wimmera. Pearl is an early to mid-flowering, semi dwarf, medium white grain field pea suitable for human consumption and stockfeed.


Wharton (PBA): This variety is 0.8% less yielding than Pearl in the Wimmera according to NVT’s. It’s an early-mid flowering and early maturity semi dwarf field pea which produces Kaspa type grain. Wharton is adapted to short-medium growing season environments and needs to be managed for blackspot, bacterial blight (susceptible) and downey mildew. It has good resistance to pod shattering.



There are no new lupin varieties available for 2020.


Bateman (PBA): Tall early flowering lupin with improved virus resistance. It offers significant yield improvements over current varieties in areas where virus infection from cucumber mosaic virus and barley yellow mosaic virus can cause significant yield losses when aphid numbers are high. 


Mandelup and Jenabillup are yielding 2-3% under Bateman in Mallee NVT’s, but Mandelup is generally better in lower to medium rainfall zones. Jenabillup and Bateman are more suitable to higher rainfall zones.


This information has been compiled using a combination of NVT and local data. It is always good to try the highest yielding new varieties in your paddock and put them up against existing varieties on your farm. Consult with your local Western AG agronomist today to discuss possible options for your 2020 sowing program.

Article produced by - Matt Witney, Western AG Horsham

New Products and Chemistry Pipeline for 2020

2020 brings with it a whole raft of new chemistry hitting the market targeting a variety of our hard to kill weeds and diseases. Some of these products have already received approval from the APVMA whilst some have registrations pending. Below is a brief description of the new products that are likely to be available in the new year and how they are likely to perform against our current standards.

SYNGENTA - Saltro Duo

Saltro Duo (Active Constituent: 200 g/L Pydiflumetofen (Group 7 Fungicide) + 25 g/L Fludioxonil + 10 g/L Metalaxyl-M (Group 4 and 12 Fungicide)) is a Co-pack formulation of Saltro + Maxim XL in the form of a seed applied fungicide treatment targeting early blackleg in canola. The addition of Maxim XL in this co-formulation targets damping off and other common cool climate root diseases. Registration for this product is expected early 2020 with its performance on blackleg over the past 2-3 years in Western AG trials showing fantastic results when compared with current industry standard Jockey Stayer. Saltro Duo does not affect hypocotyl length therefore has excellent crop establishment performance. This along with BASF's iLevo blackleg seed treatment, are set to be the new industry standards superseding Jockey Stayer for reasons primarily based around crop establishment and performance on blackleg control.

SYNGENTA - Callisto

Callisto is a novel, broad-spectrum herbicide to control wild radish, sow thistle, fleabane, capeweed, double gee, lesser loosestrife & shepard's purse in wheat and barley. This product is applied pre-emergent Incorporated By Sowing (IBS) and offers 6-10 weeks residual activity.  

Callisto will step into a market previously dominated by Logran & Diuron with pre-emergent broadleaf control becoming increasingly important as early spraying windows continue to be tough. Registration is planned for 2020.

BAYER – Sakura Flow

No more weighing out granules, now in a flowable formula for easier use and mixing, offering the same in paddock performance as granulated Sakura.

Pre-emergent, Group K Herbicide, for grass control in chickpeas, field peas, lentils, lupins, triticale and wheat (not durum wheat), controlling annual ryegrass, barley grass, annual phalaris, silver grass and toad rush, also providing suppression of brome grass (Bromus diandrus only) and wild (black) oats.


BASF - ILevo

ILevo (Active Constituent: Fluopyram 380FS (Group 7 Fungicide)) has recently been registered as a seed treatment targeting control of blackleg infection during seedling stage.  

This product has no influence on hypocotyl shortening and thus better crop establishments, one of its main advantages over current industry standard Jockey Stayer. This along with Saltro Duo are the new standards for early blackleg control in canola. Western Ag are currently planning demonstration trials in 2020 across our footprint to illustrate the performance of this product against Saltro Duo and Jockey Stayer.  


BASF - Luximax

Luximax herbicide is a pre-emergent for use in wheat (NOT BARLEY) providing annual ryegrass control to match industry standards of control whilst equipping growers with a new unique mode of action.

This unique mode of action offers more options for chemical rotation, helping to strengthen existing integrated weed management strategies and provides up to 12 weeks’ residual control of annual ryegrass - including biotypes resistant to existing herbicide modes of action groups such as Groups D, J and K.  

Crop safety MUST be considered when using this product with strict guidelines around seeding depth seeder setup. Crop selectivity is achieved through separation of the seed from the herbicide treated band. Planting equipment should be set up to ensure seed is planted well below the treated band. Use knife points and press wheels to provide good separation of herbicide and closure of the planting row.

Western Ag will be demonstrating this along with other new pre-emergents compared to industry standards with an emphasis on crop safety.


BASF - Frequency

The expected release of Frequency® Herbicide in time for use in 2020 wheat, barley and durum crops will give growers new chemistry, to help manage problem broadleaf weeds with plenty of tank-mix options to manage resistance issues. 

Post-emergent Group H herbicide applied at 2nd leaf to 2nd node stage of wheat and barley to control broadleaf weeds including wild radish, capeweed, bifora, fleabane, sow thistle, wireweed and climbing buckwheat.

Applied with hasten at 1% and a range of tank mix partners (eg. bromoxynil or MCPA) which can be dialled up according to the target weed situation. 

6 week plant back for wheat (including durum) and barley, and a 4 month plant back for canola, faba beans, chickpea and field peas.

Steps into the market offering flexibility in tank mix partners for broadleaf/radish control allowing rotation of chemistry and giving strength and power to make decisions on chemistry mixes. 

ADAMA – Ultro

Ultro (Group E Herbicide) is a new mode of action, pre-emergent herbicide for pulses, to control known resistant strains of grass weeds with registration planned for 2021.

Broad spectrum grass herbicide, for the control of annual ryegrass, brome grass and barley grass, with good activity on winter grass, phalaris, silver grass, volunteer barley and volunteer wheat. Some broad leaf suppression of buckwheat, wireweed, chickweed and speedwell.

Compatible with most knockdown products and other pre-emergents, such as Mentor and Simazine for broad leaf weed control. Ultro looks to be a good fit in pulse crops offering new chemistry to rotate away from commonly used grass pre-emergents in pulses.

ADAMA – Topnotch

Topnotch is a unique combination fungicide for control of foliar diseases in barley and wheat. It’s showing stronger results in barley then wheat for key leaf diseases. Contains two highly effective actives (200g/L Azoxystrobin and 200g/L Propiconazole) with distinctly different modes of action (Group 3 and 11 Fungicides), for improved spectrum, efficacy and resistance management.

Registered for the control of leaf rust, net blotch (net and spot form), powdery mildew and scald in barley; and septoria nodorum blotch, septoria tritici blotch, powdery mildew, leaf rust, stem rust, stripe rust and yellow spot in wheat.

Topnotch provides systemic activity across key stages of the fungi life cycle to maximise yield potential.

Gives improved control of key fungal diseases in barley over industry standards and another rotation option in an annual fungicide strategy to manage resistance.

FMC - Overwatch

Overwatch (formally referred to as F9600) HERBICIDE is a highly anticipated pre-emergent herbicide, offering growers another useful tool to control annual ryegrass. It has long-lasting, residual control of annual ryegrass (including herbicide resistant biotypes) and regionally specific broadleaf weeds.

Its active ingredient Bixlozone is proposed to be a Group Q molecule, making it a unique weed control option in the Australian broadacre market. Overwatch Herbicide will be a pre-emergent herbicide for application as an IBS treatment in wheat, barley and canola. Weeds which are also proposed on the label for control are silver grass, bifora, sow thistle, hogweed & lesser loosestrife.

Overwatch is expected to be registered in 2020, its release anticipated for sowing 2021. Expect to see some pre-emergent demonstration trials from Western AG next year as we showcase the new pre-emergent compared to current standards.

Article produced by - Adrik Wright, Western AG Ballarat

Supplementary Feeding Strategies this Summer

As we head into the dry pasture phase, being one step ahead with supplementary feeding is critical for your livestock performance. It is especially important to prevent a decrease in condition score in ewes being joined or pregnant and weaners. A nutritional decline in a ewe could impact either her ability to get in lamb or the potential performance of the foetus if she does get in lamb. Weaners need to keep actively growing to stay healthy and reach their target weight to be able to be turned off for slaughter or joined as an older lamb. 

Supplementary feeding will also assist in reducing grazing pressure on pastures. Leaving a good amount of ground cover will ensure pasture growth rates are optimised in winter. 

Figure 1. A guide to digestibility decline as temperate pastures mature. Source: MLA - NSW PROGRAZE Manual, NSW Agriculture


Whether you are grazing dry pasture or crop stubbles the aim is to fill the gap between what the feed on offer is lacking and what the sheep’s energy and protein requirements are. Pastures in the south have remained green for an extended period this season but we are now starting to see a decline in digestibility and energy content. 

Figure 2. Energy (ME) and protein requirements of sheep

It is important to introduce supplementary feed early to ensure young stock are having their energy and protein requirements met as the pastures dry off. Imprint feeding while lambs are still on the ewes is important to get lambs onto feed trails or onto feeders and imprinting the lambs into their weaning paddocks can also aid in a smooth transition.

With protein being the most limiting factor, we have a range of protein supplements to help get the most out of your dry feed in a cost effective way. At Western AG we have a nutrition specialist and a team of animal health specialists who are available to meet with you on farm or instore to discuss the best supplementation or feedlot program for your livestock. 

Article produced by - Kelly Barnes, Western AG Hamilton

Wheat and Barley Variety Options Western Victoria/SESA

With harvest now underway, it’s the right time to consider your options when it comes to what varieties you should have in your wheat and barley programs.


It’s not a case of “one size fits all” approach when it comes to selecting the variety that suits your enterprise. However, invariably a single variety or selection of varieties tend to be dominant in certain districts as they are often best suited to each respective region.


There is probably no greater example of a variety dominating plantings than Scepter. It has industry leading yield potential, with the ability to be a sprint finisher after flowering has completed. Scepter has high yield and good quality grain specs (AH) at harvest time and has the ability to be a good performer in tough spring finishes. 


Trojan is another of the main varieties grown, where growers are targeting those earlier sowing dates but still ensure the optimum flowering window is maintained (Trojan is APW). 


Vixen (New): AH wheat from Intergrain. Scepter type maturity. I have some side by side on farmer scale demo’s in Bordertown in 2019, gives higher tillers/m2 compared to Scepter for improved crop competition. Heads are shorter and more compact than Scepter. Looks as though it might go very close to yielding higher than Scepter. Worth trying on your farm in 2020 alongside Scepter!


Catapult (New): AH wheat from AGT, Trojan type maturity. Yet to see this in large scale side by side. 2020 will be the year to test. 


Rockstar (New): AH wheat from Intergrain, Trojan type maturity. Much the same as the Catapult, yet to see larger trials of this. 2020 will be a good year to put a few of these “earlier options” into a paddock side by side and see for yourself. If you’re sowing wheat in that April 25th-May 10th window you should be looking into these two new longer season AH wheats, up against Scepter or Trojan. 


Sheriff CL Plus (New): APW Clearfield wheat from Intergrain. Trojan type maturity. Looks to be the obvious successor for the Clearfield wheat growers. Consistently higher yields than industry standards.


Barley, like the wheat is currently dominated by a few main varieties. These include Spartacus, Planet and Compass. 

Compass continues to perform very well on the lighter sands on tighter finishing country north of the Adel-Melb highway. Planet is a relatively new player and is performing well in that 3.5t plus zone. Meanwhile Spartacus has that strong fit in the Wimmera Mallee areas with the bonus of the CL technology, which provides a great all-round agronomic tool for managing weeds such as brome grass. 


IGB 1705T (New): Early to mid-maturing potential malt CL barley yet to be released from Intergrain. Only in pre-release stages but looks to be better than Spartacus for yield in the 1-3t/ha areas and on a par for yields in the higher than 3.5t/ha areas. 


Keep in mind that there are other varieties that have been released for the 2020 season, with a few more potential releases which are dependent on seed bulk ups and quality testing. To find out more, speak to your local Western AG agronomist or keep an eye out for your copy of the GRDC sowing guide.

Article produced by - Nathan Tink, Western AG Bordertown

Wheat and Barley Variety Options in HRZ's

With grain harvest now underway in SW Victoria, it’s a great opportunity to consider what wheat and barley varieties will form part of your cropping program for 2020. Here is a short list of wheat and barley varieties showing strong performances throughout the high rainfall zone of Victoria.


RGT Accroc (Seed Force): This wheat has taken high market share in France and is performing really well in the HRZ. It’s proving to be the main feed/dual purpose wheat variety for South West Vic. It can be grazed during winter and it has high grain yield potential and good grain quality. It is best suited to late April/early May sowing. Stem rust MR, stripe rust R, leaf rust S, yellow leaf spot MRMS, Septoria MRMS.


LRPB Beaufort (Grain Search): Mid-season maturity spring wheat well suited to medium to high rainfall environments of South West Vic. It has good straw strength and has proved to be a high grain yielder under dryer spring conditions compared to other feed red wheats.  It has a high level of resistance to both leaf and stripe rust, however, shows susceptibility to stem rust.


LRPB Trojan (Pacific Seeds): Has been in most wheat cropping programs since 2013, has shown a really good resistance profile particularly to Septoria tritici. It has a large grain, low screenings and high-test weight. One strong advantage of Trojan over the years has been its adaptability to a range of seasons and environments. 2019 season has thrown a new challenge for Trojan with a new strain of stripe rust likely to take resistance profile form MR to MS/S. Talk to your Western AG agronomist about management going forward


RGT Calabro New (Seed Force): This variety is worth mentioning given its strong performance since its Australian release in 2018. Feed quality bearded, medium-long growing season winter wheat with potential for high yields in the medium and high rainfall zone.  Star performer at the 2017 GRDC-funded hyper yielding cereals project in Tasmania which averaged nearly 17t/ha in trial! Also topped the 2018 Streatham long season wheat NVT trial ahead of Revenue, Adagio & Accroc. Stem rust MRMS, stripe rust R, leaf rust MS, yellow leaf spot MRMS and Septoria MRMS.


RGT Planet (Seed Force): Continues its strong performance in the HRZ since its 2017 release. Now with malt accreditation in Australia it has further strengthened its appeal to growers. It has elastic maturity making it well suited from low to high rainfall zones.


Bottler New (Grain Search): Had a look at this one down at Inverleigh SFS trial site earlier in the year. It is a mid-season maturity (6 days earlier then Westminster) export malt type still yet to go through the malt accreditation process. Looks to have good agronomic adaptation to many MRZ and HRZ environments with a reasonable disease profile. Scald S, SFNB S, NFNB MS and leaf rust S. Topped the single site yield analysis at the 2018 Inverleigh NVT trial ahead of RGT Planet.


There are numerous wheat and barley varieties for release in 2020 and seed supply will be dependent on the harvest quality of seed crops. Please consult with your Western AG agronomist today for your 2020 cereal seed requirement.

Article produced by - Brendan Smith, Western AG Ballarat

Welcome to the 2019 October Edition of eNote

At the time of writing the condition of crops and pastures across SE South Australia, Southern Wimmera and SW Victoria are good to excellent. However plants are now drawing on soil moisture reserves and follow up rainfall combined with cool conditions at grain fill will be required to maximise yield. Grain prices are firming nicely which could mean another strong year on the back of the 2018 season if the season is kind to us.

In this edition we are focusing on critically important late season weed control in crops as well as frost identification and management and vaccination protocols in sheep. Attention is now rapidly turning to planning for the 2020 season. Our agronomists are hoping to meet with as many clients as possible pre harvest to put in place production strategies for next year. The advantages of doing this are significant and include putting in place plans for crop residues during harvest, the planning and as required scheduling contractors for earth works, organising seed requirements and preparation of budget information for financial planning.

Now is also a great time to review crop biomass imagery. NDVI is available free of charge to Western AG clients and is extremely valuable in identifying reduced biomass production areas which can be compared to yield map data. From this analysis strategic soil testing and site-specific management practices can be put in place to even up production in paddocks.


On a final note we are very pleased to announce that Grain Protect, a new business has begun operations based out of our Ballarat office. Grain Protect provides grain protection services to both grower and large bulk handling organisations. Kerry Miles, General Manager of Grain Protect is well known to many growers and has exceptional knowledge and expertise in this area. We encourage clients to make contact with Kerry to start planning storage strategies now. Full details on this services and grain protection strategies will be in our November eNote edition.


We hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and looking forward to assisting with your plans for the 2020 season.

Article produced by - Phil Hawker, Western AG - Derrinallum

Is Tramlining Weed Seed at Harvest the Silver Bullet to Managing Weeds?

The simple answer is No - it is simply 1 of the tools available to you to manage weeds.


Harvest weed seed management is the last opportunity you have in the season to influence the weed seed bank for the following years crop. It is critical that you take the opportunity to minimise the return of weed seed to the seed bank. Harvest weed seed management won’t cure all troubles if you haven’t managed weeds effectively during the growing season, however forms an important link in the integrated weed management (IWM) chain.


The number 1 aim for any harvest weed seed management option is to get 100% of the weed seed into the harvester. Once weed seeds are captured by the harvester you can control where they go. As soon as you drop away from 100% collection of weed seeds the efficiency of weed seed management drops. Any losses (at the cutting knife) that occur before the seed is captured in the machine will reduce effectiveness of harvest weed seed management.


Ryegrass is probably the most problematic weed to deal with at harvest. Ryegrass has the greatest ability to adapt to changing selection pressures due to its diverse genetic background. For example, by delaying harvest and allowing some ryegrass seed to shed, you are selecting for early shedding biotypes and the process has commenced. These survivors, early shedding types, will cross pollinate the following season and produce progeny that are likely to be very early/early shedding types that make them more difficult to collect at harvest. This process will be repeated in subsequent years and you have a population of early shedding ryegrass that can’t be collected with the harvester. The same for height of harvest, if you increase your harvesting height and miss the low seed heads you are applying a selection pressure for lower seed head or prostate plant structure.  The best solution here is to harvest your ryegrass paddocks first, as low as possible, with minimal losses as this maximises benefits of harvest weed seed management.


Having collected the weed seed – what are the best options to manage them?


In my opinion the best option is the Harrington Seed destructor or the Seed Terminator where the seed and chaff are dealt with during harvest operation and distributed back over the area they were collected from. Greater than 97% of the weed seeds are destroyed in the mill. Nothing else left to do – job done. The downside of these pieces of equipment include the capital cost, maintenance costs, extra horsepower required to drive them to list some, but the job is done and done efficiently.

Photo 1. Seed Terminator fitted to a Case IH harvester

Cheaper options for managing the weeds seeds include tramlining and chaff lining.  Both strategies work on similar principle of collecting the chaff and weed seeds off the sieves and placing them on the ground in a controlled manner and limit the spread of the seeds to narrow strips behind the harvester. The percentage of weed seeds controlled by tramlining or chaff lines can be variable depending on a number of different factors which vary from site to site, so it is not possible to give an estimate of weeds controlled. Both these methods do have a positive effect on weed reduction.


Tramlining is where the chaff and seeds are placed on one or both permanent traffic tramlines by means of conveyor belts. The chaff lines are left to rot down and minimise the germination of weeds in that rotting mulch. The weeds that do germinate and establish can be controlled with specific management strategies, ie herbicides can be applied, or they are simply left there, and the seed will be harvested and placed back on the same tram line. The capital cost of tram lining is approximately $20k, they are low maintenance, require low horsepower and the job is done at harvest, no follow up work required.


Photo 2. Tramlining conveyors fitted to a JD harvester

Chaff lining is where the chaff and weed seeds are collected and dropped in a single row behind the harvester and the seed is left to rot in the mulch. These chaff lines will be disturbed at the following seeding and viable weed seeds may geminate in these rows.  This system generally fits where controlled traffic has not been implemented. The costs associated with chaff lining is very low, chutes can be manufactured for less the $1k, no horsepower is required to run them, and maintenance cost are minimal.


Photo 3. Chaff lining showing how simple the chaff lining chute can be

The final options for harvest weed seed management is windrow burning and chaff carts.  I personally don’t think windrow burning is practical in the High Rainfall Zone due to weather conditions not being conducive to achieving thorough and effective burn of all weed seeds in the windrow. Also burning the windrows is another job that has to be done and can be very frustrating when weather conditions are not favourable windrows don’t burn causing complications for the seeding operation and leaving a legacy of weeds to be dealt with over a number of years.


Selectively burning canola windrows is one way to utilise windrow burning efficiently. Canola rows burn very hot, they are easier to manage and control, the downside is that it is only 1 phase of the rotation.


Chaff carts have their advantages in mixed enterprise farming operations as they effectively produce fodder stacks that the stock can utilise. The remnants of the chaff stacks still need to be burnt before seeding to manage weed seed.


Chaff carts have a significant capital cost, they can be problematic to manage during harvest, but the pros and cons need to be weighed up before deciding whether they are for you or not.


Photo 4. Chaff cart ready for action

For further reading on Harvest weed seed management follow this link to the Weed Smart web site


Each system has advantages and disadvantages, costs structure vary widely between the systems. Please don’t hesitate to contact your friendly Western Ag Agronomist to discuss the pros and cons of each system and which could potentially fit your operation best.

Article produced by - Andrew Heinrich, Western AG - Naracoorte

Vaccination Protocol for Weaning and the Impact of Pulpy Kidney on Livestock Production

Best practice vaccination protocol is one shot at marking and a second shot 4-6 weeks later, which often coincides with weaning. 

The first dose prompts a small localised antibody response which is short lived and for some of the 5 bacterial diseases - black leg, black disease, tetanus, pulpy kidney and malignant oedema, levels do not reach an adequate protection level. It’s not until the second dose is given that the immune system triggers a systemic antibody response that will protect them in the face of a challenge.

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There is a small possibility that the lambs will not come in contact with Clostridial bacteria however often there are unexplained losses happening on farm that can be prevented simply with a 2-dose vaccination protocol. The cost of straight 5in1 vaccine is around 22 cents per head, for lambs fetching $150 each one death would be the equivalent of vaccinating 682 lambs. 

Cheesy Gland

Cheesy Gland causes yellow pus modules anywhere in the sheep’s body where there are lymph nodes e.g. neck, spine, lungs or intestines. Cheesy gland results in reduced weight gains and wool production and occasionally result in death. Abattoir trims will be severe resulting in a loss in yield.  Upgrading from 5in1 to 6in1 to cover for Cheesy gland costs an extra 8 cents per dose but with lambs worth $6/kg the cost of carcass trim from Cheesy gland abscesses can quickly add up.



B12 can also be added into the vaccine. B12 is a derivative of cobalt. Normally the sheep ingests cobalt from the soil and internally converts it to B12. At marking it gives lambs a kick start; B12 produces energy for growth, whether that be meat or wool. Visual comparisons of benefits are hard to see but Zoetis carried out a trial on treated and non-treated lambs vaccinated with B12 at marking and weaning, there was a 0.5 kg difference between groups, other trials in deficient areas show up to 2.8 kg difference.



Another component that is commonly added to clostridial vaccines. In areas classically deficient in selenium, improvements in weight gains, wool growth, fertility and overall immunity can be expected. Care must be taken when administering Selenium supplementations as it can be toxic in high levels, always check to see if the drenches and vaccines contain selenium and avoid using products together that both contain selenium supplementation unless deficiency status is known on your property.

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Pulpy Kidney

Pulpy Kidney is a bacterial disease that occurs when the Clostridium perfringens bacterium, that are normally present in a healthy gut without causing problems, begins to multiply and produce a high level of toxin. The build up occurs when animals are fed high quality low fibre feeds such as Lucerne or lush spring pastures, and deaths commonly occur in fast growing lambs on lush pastures or grain rations. Sick animals are not usually seen, the first symptom of pulpy kidney is commonly a dead animal and the carcass will start to decompose very quickly.


Pulpy Kidney protection from a clostridial vaccine can provide protection for up to 12 months, but where there is a change in diet protection can drop below adequate levels in as little as 3 months and if you are putting lambs onto lush pastures, summer crops high in protein or feeding a high protein ration in containment it is highly recommended to do a booster vaccination 2 weeks prior to introducing them to the new feed.  Older sheep will also need a booster vaccination if there is a change in feed.


Please feel free to consult with your local Western AG animal health specialist today to plan your vaccination program.

Article produced by - Kelly Barnes, Western AG - Hamilton

Controlling Annual Ryegrass Through Canola Pre-Windrowing Desiccation

With the weather gradually warming up and harvest season fast approaching, growers and agronomists alike are thinking ahead and considering options for controlling annual ryegrass in canola crops prior to harvest. Desiccation of canola pre-windrowing is an effective control method that can greatly reduce ryegrass numbers for the following years crop. The earlier season ripening that canola offers, allows us to target and stop ryegrass seed set through use of glyphosate. Other weeds such as wild radish and sow thistle can also be targeted under this method of control. This technique is particularly beneficial, especially for those growers who do not implement harvest weed seed techniques such as chaff lining, seed destructing or having trouble with windrow burning. The method is also effective in controlling any ryegrass that may have escaped selective spraying during the early stages of canola maturity.

Optimum timing for desiccation spraying

Timing is critical when it comes to desiccation. Apply glyphosate to a standing crop at early senescence. This is when approximately 20% of seeds in elongated pods have changed colour (green to brown or black). Check several of pods and collect a random sample from various heights on the main stem to determine the average senescence of the crop. If we spray top prior to 20%, yield reductions may occur. Desiccation of canola needs to occur prior to full senescence to prevent shatter losses from ground boom application and to ensure ryegrass seed heads are successfully sterilised. Desiccation also aids in the harvestability of canola when direct heading, allowing the crop to ripen evenly and not be left waiting for ‘green patches’ to dry out sufficiently. See the below image for a reference point on what is considered to be 20% seed colour change.

Photo 1. Canola 20% seed colour change; note colour change from green to dark brown or black which represents optimal timing for ryegrass control and no impact on yield.


Desiccation for harvest aid and weed control applies to triazine tolerant (TT), Clearfield (Cl), Roundup Ready and conventional canola varieties. Crop safety trials proved that this use pattern has no negative effects on yield or oil content in canola, however It is important to note that any crops that are desiccated are unable to be kept as seed for the following seasons as germination and vigour is negatively affected.


Products registered for desiccation spraying

Weedmaster DST and Roundup UltraMAX are two herbicide options used for desiccating canola. Chemical rates for crop topping can vary, depending on both ryegrass size and numbers. Rates from 2.0-3.0L/ha are commonly seen throughout the Wimmera and Western Districts (Contact your agronomist for a specific rate unique to your crops). The cost of desiccation is approximately $15-25/ha, but this can vary with chemical rates and application method.


Nufarm have rigorously tested the use of glyphosate in trials pre harvest and have shown no MRL issues with residue levels well below maximum for all canola systems with no impact on product export suitability when applied at the recommended timing.


For an effective desiccation, growers should use high rates of water. A minimum of 80L/ha is recommended, in combination with a course droplet size. This allows the herbicide to penetrate the pod layer and contact the ryegrass plant. Windrowing can begin immediately after application is complete, however there is a 5 day harvest withhold after the application to the standing crop.


To discuss the option of desiccating your canola crop for annual weed control this harvest please consult with your local Western AG agronomist today.

Article produced by - Jaron Dunstan, Western Ag - Derrinallum

Pulse Topping In Legumes and The Use of Sharpen Herbicide

With harvest fast approaching and legume yields looking favourable there is no better time to start looking at pulse desiccation options. Spray topping Legumes is an important part of controlling resistant grass weeds and is an extremely important tool for reducing problem or resistant weed seed set as well as reducing green trash for ease of harvest. Fortunately, this year both Glyphosate and Paraquat are at an attractive price, giving even more reason not to compromise on desiccating pulse crops to ensure good weed seed management.      


Sharpen herbicide (700g/kg SAFLUFENACIL) is registered for application prior to harvest on field peas, faba/broad beans, chickpeas, lentils, and lupins and can be added to Paraquat or Glyphosate for improved results. This can be an effective tool to help manage herbicide resistance, particularly on problem weeds such as Wild Radish and other hard to kill weeds like sow thistle and prickly lettuce. Sharpen has recently come back in price which also makes it an attractive option this spray desiccation period.


Sharpen is also registered in wheat and barley for late wild radish seed-set control. Given the wet conditions in the Western Districts of Victoria and difficulty faced by many growers getting onto paddocks this may prove a viable option for growers looking to reduce radish seed set for the following years crop. Sharpen is registered for late application (GS71-GS83) without the addition of Paraquat or Glyphosate it can reduce the wild radish seed set remarkably, example of this is shown below.


Photo 1. Untreated control (Left) vs Sharpen applied at 34g/ha + 1% v/v MSO for control of wild radish seed set in wheat


The 5 Key points to consider when using Sharpen:

  1. Always use with 1% Hasten

  2. Use minimum 100L/ha water.

  3. DO NOT use for Lentil seed crops

  4. DO NOT add an acidifying agent such as LI 700

  5. Apply when pulse seeds have reached full physiological maturity and at least 7 days before harvest


Benefits of Sharpen to your pulse harvest:

  • Rapid desiccation and dry down of winter pulse crops

  • Manage uneven crop maturity which can delay harvest

  • Quick dry down of leaves, stems and green pods

  • Reducing green trash resulting in improved harvest speed and efficiency

  • Desiccates and reduces the biomass of late germinating broadleaf weeds

  • An alternative mode of action to existing desiccants Paraquat and Glyphosate

  • Valuable tool for resistant management of hard to kill broadleaf weeds


Application timing:

  • Faba beans :  Hilum black in top pods at the top of the canopy (30 – 80% pods ripe and dark)

  • Chick peas:  80 – 85% of pods within crop have turned yellow-brown.

  • Lentils:  Just after crop starts to yellow (Or senesce).  When 40 – 70% yellowing of plant material. This is visually late in the crops life as the image below highlights.  It's similar timing to a Diquat application rather than the earlier timings traditionally used with Gramoxone. *Please Note: Sharpen may have a negative effect on lentil germination. DO NOT use Sharpen on crops for seed production.

  • Narrow leaf Lupin -: At 80% Leaf drop, leaves turned brown.  Seed should be changing colour from light green to yellow. 

  • *Please Note:  Apply Sharpen to direct harvested Lupins ONLY.  Application prior to windrowing can result in severe loss of grain yield.

  • Field Pea -:  Apply when field peas reach 30% moisture content, or when the lower 75% of pods are brown and leathery with firm seeds.

  • As always it’s best to consult your Western Ag agronomist for more information regarding pulse desiccation and specific timings for Sharpen use on your farm.

Article produced by - Sam Gabbe, Western AG - Horsham

Identifying Frost in Broadacre Crops on your Farm

Spring is in full swing throughout the Wimmera and Western Districts of Victoria. With that also brings the thought of the dreaded F word - Frost. With dryer then average springs in recent years frost has become a major problem for grain production in cereal, canola and pulse crops. Although frost is no certain to occur this spring it is better to be prepared and understand our options, rather than sticking our heads in the sand and hoping for the best. Growers and agronomists alike need to work closely and be proactive in the event of a frost to ensure the correct management decisions are made. This starts with being able to correctly identify frost damage in crops.



Identifying frost in cereals, canola and pulses

Wheat is extremely susceptible to frost. The most critical time for frost in wheat is flowering (GS 60-69). A frost event during this time can cause sterilisation of the spikelet preventing grain development in that floret. To identify frost at flowering, peel back both the glume and then the lemma. This will reveal the anthers and other reproductive structures. If damage has occurred at this stage, the anthers will be distorted and appear a dullish brown colour.


Photo 1. Left shows a healthy wheat head with no frost damage. Right shows frost damage with anthers that appear discoloured and banana shaped. Image source; GRDC


Grain development (GS 70-79) is another critical time for frost. Healthy, unfrosted grain will show a cloudy milk texture. In contrast, frosted grain will contain a much clearer liquid. Frost during dough development (GS 80-89) can result in distorted and crippled grain. There may be some grains in the head affected and others not, it all depends on the severity of the frost. Late frosts in wheat (after GS 90) usually result in shrivelled grain. This can reduce grain viability, which will impact germination for following seasons.


Barley is less susceptible to frost than wheat. This is because flowering generally occurs whilst the head is still inside the boot. This helps protect the critical reproductive components of the head, nonetheless, frost damage can still occur. Frost in barley is easily

identifiable in the field by holding the head up against the sun you can clearly see whether or not there is grain fill.


Photo 2. Frosting of barley with undeveloped grain (Left) and frosting of spikelet in oats (Right). Image source; Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia.


Oats are even less susceptible to frost than Barley. However, damage can still be seen after a particularly severe frost. The most damaging frosting in oats usually occurs when the panicle is emerging. The downward hanging structure of the oat florets allows for solid protection against frost. However, in the event of a bad frost look for white shrivelled panicles on oat heads (photo 2).


Canola can be quite sensitive to frost. Due to the large flowering window, canola can have damage to flowers, pods and seeds all at the same time. Frosted flowers will appear burnt and will abort their reproductive process. Look for discoloured flowers, that fail to set a pod. Poor pod set and pod fill can also occur, distorted and blistered pods are a key symptom that frost damage has occurred at this stage. Severe frosts can damage developing seed which turns a mushy green-brown that dries to a small black or brown speck (photo 3).


Photo 3. Frost affected seeds in pod in the earlier stage (left) and right frost affected seeds at later stage. Image source; Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.


Faba Beans are usually quite tolerant of frost. This is due to their thick pod that provides an insulating effect, protecting the seed from the outside environment. They can be delicate during flowering and early pod set. Look for burnt off flowers, however keep in mind that faba bean flowers dry out and turn black naturally as they ripen. Fortunately, faba beans have the ability to compensate for frosting to flowers, but only if there is sufficient soil moisture. Developing pods can appear burnt and shrivelled and which usually transfers to aborted seed within the pod.


What to do after experiencing a frost?

The most important thing after experiencing a frost is to not panic. It is imperative that you wait 5-7 days after a frost to accurately determine the severity and overall damage that has been caused. Timely decisions will have to be made if there has been a frost, but there is no need to make any irrational judgements. It is a good idea to check crops after experiencing night time air temperatures of two degrees or less, when received in combination with a frost. Check your most frost prone areas first, keeping in mind that frost can occur sporadically with high variability of damage on both the plant and throughout different sections of the crop.


If there is frost damage evident, some tough decisions may need to be made. Cutting frosted crops for hay is a way growers can reduce the economic loss of a frost. There are calculations and number of factors that need to be considered, and these can vary greatly between crop types. These may include:

  • Damage to the crop (e.g. 25%) and potential grain yield.

  • Current grain and hay prices.

  • Crop biomass.

  • Contracting costs.

  • Weather conditions and contractor availability.

  • Access to markets.


What are ways to mitigate the effect of frost?

Unfortunately, 100% protection against frosts is not possible, however there are a number of techniques we can utilise to help reduce the damage caused to farm businesses. 

  • Identify frost prone paddocks, e.g. topography

  • Consider crop selection.

  • Diversification of sowing times.

  • Plant more than one variety (e.g. winter and spring wheats)

  • Consider grazing cereals to manipulate flowering times.


Please consult with your Western AG agronomist first if you think you have experienced a frost on your farm. For any further information in relation to frost identification as always contact your local Western AG agronomist to discuss today.

Article produced by - Jaron Dunstan, Western AG - Derrinallum

New Syngenta Seed Treatment Mode of Action for the Control of Blackleg in Canola

Saltro Duo is a new seed treatment from Syngenta targeting blackleg, pythium and rhizoctonia in canola.  Western AG have been conducting replicated trials comparing Saltro Duo with the current standards Jockey, Flutriafol, as well as in combination with in-crop foliar applications. The trial is still under evaluation at this point so preliminary trial results can only be shared at this time.

Bonito (R-MR) canola was planted on a wahoo (MR) stubble from last year to simulate high blackleg pressure and assess fungicide performance across the trial against an untreated control. Assessments are being taken on the percentage of cotyledon disease infection to quantify leaf area and plant loss due to blackleg during the plants early growth stages right up until full cabbage.


Visually, large differences in crop vigour can be seen when comparing fungicide treatments to the UTC (photo 1) which highlights the importance of blackleg control. Saltro Duo + Impact & Jockey + Impact are doing an exceptional job at reducing the blackleg pressure (Photo 2&3).  Neville Marra (Syngenta Territory Sales Manager) commented that "Saltro Duo is consistently giving better establishment than Jockey and is reducing stem canker on a consistent basis over numerous trials.  Saltro Duo also controls pythium and rhizoctonia and has no impact on seedling establishment which can sometimes be experienced with Jockey which flows onto yield benefits at harvest ” Saltro Duo will be sold as a co-pack of Maxim XL + Saltro which is a new seed treatment mode of action for controlling Blackleg and is expected to be registered in early 2020.


Photos of the trial below illustrate the different in treatments. More information on the performance of the industry standards versus Saltro Duo will be available as the assessment's continue throughout the season right up until harvest. 

For any further information on this Western AG trial please contact myself or the RD&E team.


Photo 1. Untreated Control


Photo 3. Jockey + Impact (Flutriafol)


Photo 2. Saltro Duo + Impact (Flutriafol)


Photo 4. Jockey treatment only


Photo 5. Saltro Duo treatment only

Article produced by- James Jess Western AG - Ballarat

Warning Sheep Grazier Alert!

July and August are the months we see most warnings to sheep graziers. Conditions such as these with rain and strong winds are a high risk for lamb and sheep losses.                                                                                         

Stock most at risk are:

  • Freshly shorn sheep                                                                                                                                         

  • Young lambs                                                                                                                                           

  • Ewes in late stages of pregnancy                                                                                                                              

  • Sheep and lambs in light condition (under 2 ½ score).


Photo 1 & 2. Young lambs and freshy shorn sheep require adequate cover for survival in winter months

While we are inside in front of the fire we need to be thinking ahead, the RISK can be reduced.

The best protection against the elements is to maintain good health and have a body condition of 3 + during winter, but unfortunately most haven’t been that luck this season.


What we can do is:

Move sheep into the most sheltered paddocks – with tall grasses or into a paddock with a tree shelter belt or if possible, into a shed.

Make sure they have access to good quality food and that ewes in late pregnancy can graze to reduce the risk of pregnancy toxaemia. This could consist of a good quality hay, grain or pellets.

If shearing STOP!! If stopping is not an option, you can always run the sheep back into the shed for the night. (Always monitor the weather if you are about to shear).

When in doubt visit the Bureau of Meteorology site, these warning are constantly updated.

For any further information please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the other Western AG Animal health staff.

Article produced by - Katrina Ridgeway, Western AG Ballarat

Canola Blackleg Update & Control Options for Late Season Application

It’s already that time of the year again, when clients and their agronomists must make the decision on whether to put an early flowering fungicide over their canola. This year there was low seedling blackleg pressure in early sown crops and then as winter and heavy rainfall set in the pressure increased with heavy seedling infection in susceptible varieties. 


Blackleg is caused by the fungus ‘Leptosphaeria Maculans’ and is the most economically damaging disease for Canola in the Medium to high rainfall cropping areas throughout Australia. With the right management strategies this pathogen and resulting disease can be controlled. 

Periods of Infection

Part of the reason that blackleg is so prevalent is that it can infect any part of the canola plant at multiple times throughout the crop’s growth cycle. Lesions form on the leaves right through the growing season but severe crown canker is most likely to occur when plants are infected whilst in the young seedling stage. The fungus grows on the cotyledons and leaves asymptomatically through the vascular tissues to the crown of the plant where it causes necrosis resulting in crown canker at the base of the plant. Yield loss then results from restricted water and nutrient uptake by the plant. It is crucial to protect the crop during this seedling stage to lesson the severity of crown canker. Lesions can also develop on all other plant parts and these infections may go on to develop cankers as well.

Figure 1. Periods of infection by blackleg for different parts of the canola plant in relation to the period of blackleg spore release and start of flowering in medium and high rainfall zones. Solid lines show main periods of infection and dashed lines show reduced risk from infection. For start of flowering, solid line indicates the optimal period in which yield is maximised while reducing disease risk


Upper Canopy Infection (UCI)

Upper canopy blackleg infection occurs when mature blackleg spores from crop residue (triggered by rainfall) land on flowers, peduncles, pods, main stems and branches which then infect the crop. During late winter there are often long periods of crop wetness (this is common around the beginning of flowering in the Western district) which gives the perfect conditions for airborne spores to survive whilst they enter their host plant. Its only in recent years that we have been looking at control of this later season infection.

Photo 1. Upper canopy infection (UCI) causing pod abortion which can cause significant yield reduction


Control Options Later in the Season.

Recent work done by Steve Marcroft (Head of the national Canola Pathology Program) has proven that under the right scenarios, there are sizeable yield improvements from well-timed early flowering fungicide applications.


One of the more popular fungicides for use at early flowering is Aviator Xpro (dual modes of action) at rates between 550-650ml/ha to be applied around 20-30% flowering stage which is when there are between 14-20 open flowers on the main stem on average. It is always a good idea to leave a nill treatment strip or two through the paddock to compare any yield significance.

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Table 1. Kaniva 2016 Crop Maturity blackleg and sclerotinia effect on 3 cultivars by 7 foliar fungicide application treatments.


Below are some factors and requirements that indicate that an early flowering fungicide application could give a strong return on investment:

  • There are leaf lesions present at the start of flowering (This indicates that you will be susceptible to UCI and that the major genes your variety has are not effective)

  • Flowering is occurring early when there is plenty of moisture about.

  • The crop has good biomass and economically the potential yield warrants fungicide investment. 

  • There was medium to high blackleg pressure earlier in the season.


A major factor in upper canopy infection is the time of flowering which makes cultivar choice and time of sowing a very powerful tool when it comes to lowering upper canopy infection risk. Shorter season varieties sown too early will reach flowering quite early and be exposed to high levels of blackleg spore shower.


Management strategies
Blackleg should be controlled by using a range of management strategies. These include growing this years crop at least 500m away from the previous years crop, growing cultivars with high levels of blackleg resistance, use of fungicide applications (foliar and Infurrow) and rotation of cultivars with different resistance groups. Each year growers should monitor their crop to determine whether there is any yield loss due to blackleg. Growers can then go through the GRDC blackleg management guide and follow the management steps to reduce the effect of blackleg. Another handy tool to help monitor blackleg persistence and aid in the decision making for fungicide application is the ‘BlacklegCM app’, see below. 



BlacklegCM app, developed with GRDC investment, allows the user to input information such as paddock selection, variety choice, seed dressing, and banded or sprayed fungicide, and takes into account costs, yield benefits and grain prices to give the best/worse-case scenario and likely estimated economic return.

Growers can change the parameters on the app to tailor the output to their own individual crop. It can be downloaded onto tablets (not Smartphones) from both the App Store and Google play,

Please contact a Western Ag Agronomist if you would like to know more about blackleg management and how it can be implemented into your program.

Article produced by - Lachlan Bullen, Western AG Ballarat

Effective Foliar Disease Control in Faba Bean

There are three main diseases that are important to control in beans, Cercospora (Cercospora zonata), Ascochyta (Ascochyta fabae) and chocolate spot (Botrytis fabae and Botrytis cinerea).

There are critical periods to monitor for these diseases within a faba beans life cycle to ensure effective control and yield protection


The first period is the initial 5-8 weeks after emergence where cercospora begins to develop and is most effectivity controlled within this period with tebuconazole. Cercospora is similar to ascochyta in that it develops in prolonged wet and cold conditions and has similar symptoms although the cercospora lesions tend to be bit darker and more irregular. If left uncontrolled significant defoliation can occur. If growing a susceptible variety to ascochyta (refer to Table 2), the management focus needs to be more of proactive approach rather than reactive to ensure no yield loss is obtained.

Photo 1. Cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora zonata) lesion on Faba Bean leaf. Photo curtesy of Agriculture Victoria.


Ascochyta is prevalent throughout south-east south Australia and western Victorian regions. Infections develop in prolonged cool and moist conditions which is typical in our area. It forms sunken lesions on the stems, pods and leaves; these lesions can cause the plant to lodge or impact on grain colour and size if the lesion is on the pod, impacting the quality and quantity of beans produced.


The first period is the initial 5-8 weeks after emergence where cercospora begins to develop and is most effectivity controlled within this period with tebuconazole. Cercospora is similar to ascochyta in that it develops in prolonged wet and cold conditions and has similar symptoms although the cercospora lesions tend to be bit darker and more irregular. If left uncontrolled significant defoliation can occur. If growing a susceptible variety to ascochyta (refer to Table 2), the management focus needs to be more of proactive approach rather than reactive to ensure no yield loss is obtained.

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 11.55.03

Photo 2. Ascochyta leaf spot (Ascochyta Fabae) Lesions on Faba Bean leaf. Photo curtesy of Agriculture Victoria   


Chocolate spot forms black-brown spots on the leaves of the Faba Bean and can expand, turning the whole plant black. Chocolate spot often occurs when there is warm humid conditions over an extended period of time during flowering and after canopy closure. Chocolate spot impacts the plant by aborting pods and causing plant damage, therefore the plant is putting its energy into healing itself rather than pod development and seed set. 

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 11.55.15

Photo 3. Chocolate spot (Botrytis Fabae) lesions on a Faba Bean leaf. Photo curtesy of Agriculture Victoria.   


The second critical period is during flowering and prior to canopy closure as it allows penetration down to those lower leaves and protects against chocolate spot which when serious can cause pod abortion and flower drop; a protective spray prior to symptoms appearing is recommended. Both cercospora and ascochyta should again be targeted at this period, especially if early control of cercospora was unsuccessful or if a particular variety is susceptible to ascochyta (see table 1).


The final critical period is pod fill, this is where both chocolate and ascochyta need to be controlled if they haven’t been already. The control of chocolate spot is necessary at this period because lesions can cause the plants to lodge causing significant grain loss. Ascochyta needs to be controlled as the disease can cause seed staining, resulting in a downgrade of seed quality.   

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 11.55.43

Table 1.  Show a disease rating table of faba Bean varieties common in SE SA and Western Victoria, S = Susceptible, M = Moderate, MS = Moderate susceptibility, MR = Moderate Resistance, R = Resistant.  Table curtesy of Pulse breeding Australia sourced from GRDC grow notes faba bean. 


The disease rating of a variety determines how susceptible that variety is to different diseases. That is why it’s important to choose a variety that has good disease resistance to reduce disease build up and improve efficacy of the fungicide thereby improving yield (Table 1).


It is also critical to point out that growing faba beans in the high rainfall zone has added disease pressure due to moist humid conditions; ideal growing conditions for disease especially chocolate spot so when choosing a variety it needs to have a good disease rating to help protect from high disease pressure prevalent throughout SE SA and SW Victoria.  


These timings are just guidelines to when diseases may become an issue. It is critical that during these periods crops are checked regularly to ensure the diseases are kept under control and preventative fungicides can be applied. Adama have presented a performance guide to different fungicides; showing relative performance to controlling foliar diseases in faba beans.  


Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 11.56.10

Table 2. Shows different control options of diseases using ADAMA products and how effective they are on different diseases. 

If you have concerns about disease levels in your Faba Beans please contact your local Western AG agronomist for a field assessment.

Article produced by - Zach Reardon, Western AG Bordertown

Nitrogen Management for your Cereal Crops; Timing and Form of N?

The optimum timing of N application varies from year to year and from location to location.  Soil type, rotations, rainfall events and general weather conditions all influence the crops response to applied N.


There are a number of different “N Rate Calculators” available from any number of reputable sources. They all have their strengths and weaknesses; each can be used as a guide to the required rate of N for any given circumstance provided you understand the constraints of each model.


N can be applied from sowing right through to anthesis and there is no single right or wrong time. However it is important to know what crop response you will achieve when N is applied at a particular crop stage

To simplify this discussion, we will assume that N is the yield limiting factor.  I don’t believe that you can starve a crop to a point then feed it and achieve potential yield, N deficiency during crop development will limit yield potential.

Areas where wheat yield potential is limited to 3 t/ha, all your seasonal N requirements can be applied at sowing providing you have seed and fertilizer separation to avoid fertilizer toxicity issues. In higher yielding environments there are benefits to splitting your N applications through the season, reducing losses, managing risk, canopy management for disease control and potentially protein management.


As rates of N applications increases, the initial crop response is to increase yield potential.  As applied N peaks the rate of yield increase slows and grain protein % starts to increase.

Figure 1. The average yield and protein response of 10 varieties of wheat over several years.

Early N application encourages and facilitates tillering in cereals and grain per head, thus increasing the yield potential of the crop. N deficient crops will limit their tillering to ensure adequate nutrition is available for grain production.

Late tillering to stem elongation applications of N maintain tiller numbers and grains per head to hold yield potential. N deficient crops will abort the youngest tillers to save the older tillers. Late tillers are productive in areas where adequate water is available to support them through to grain fill.


N applications from flag leaf emergence to anthesis (flowering) will generally increase grain protein and have limited influence on yield provided the plant has access to the N. That is not to say late N doesn’t increase yield but as a generalisation it doesn’t significantly increase yield.

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 2.36.22 pm.png

Figure 2. The timing of applied N in cereal crop and its response to grain yield and protein

Soil applied N must be moved into the root zone before it can be absorbed. This requires rainfall and moist soil. The chemical form of this soil applied N will also influence the speed at which it moves into the soil and how quickly it is available for root uptake. Urea must be converted to ammonium then to nitrate which typically takes about 2 weeks.  This time will vary widely depending upon environmental conditions at the time of application. Ammonium based fertilizers only need to be converted to the nitrate form and obviously the nitrate-based fertilizers are ready for plant uptake. The conversion to nitrate in the soil is facilitated by microbes hence environmental conditions influence the speed of this process.


Foliar applied N fertilizers have the advantage that up to 20% can be absorbed into the plant via the leaf, however can burn the crop if applied under the wrong conditions. Foliar N is particularly useful to be applied to a crop recovering form stress – wet or dry as under these conditions the root system has been compromised and is in recovery mode when the stress is removed and not readily absorbing nutrients form the soil. Foliar applied N (coupled with trace elements) will speed up the recovery of the crop due to its ready supply of nutrients. 


For further information and advice in relation to this article please contact your Western AG agronomist

Article produced by - Andrew Heinrich, Western AG Naracoorte

Australian Canadian Agronomy Exchange Program

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a month touring the province of Saskatchewan, Canada in July 2019. I spent most of the trip shadowing agronomists from the Rack, which is an independently owned Ag retail company that provides a wide range of services including; Fuel delivery, fertiliser, bulk glyphosate delivery, crop protection products, seed and contract application. They operate from 11 stores across the Saskatchewan province with a strong focus on providing high level agronomy service to their clients. They are backed up with a research division which runs a lot of their trial work and release of research compendiums which is a great tool to keep farmers up to date with their independent findings.


The main cropping systems in Saskatchewan are Wheat, Barley, Canola, Mustard, Chickpeas, Lentils, flax and peas that are all around the 90-100 day growing season from May – August. Incredibly in the summer months there is almost 16 hours of daylight, couple that with 25 degree days and 6-8 inches of rainfall across the growing season and you have a crop that you could almost see growing! However, they do have their challenges much like Australian agriculture. The past 2 years have been very poor with rainfall, some areas drought stricken and unable to harvest crops, particularly in south west Saskatchewan. There are various crop disease issues causing concern; Pea root rot, Fusarium head blight in wheat, sclerotinia rot in canola and of most concern club root in canola. Club root was first reported around the Edmonton area in 2003, since then it has spread to thousands of fields across Alberta and Saskatchewan. There is no control method for the pathogen once it is in a field, its affects can only be curtailed through crop rotation, selecting canola variety’s with good club root resistance and good hygiene practices… Yes I did leave my boots over there after hearing this!


A special thanks goes to Western AG, The Rack Canada and Aglink for the opportunity to visit such a diverse cropping region. I look forward to catching up with clients and staff to share more of the experience

Article produced by - Brendan Smith, Western AG Ballarat

Western AG Ramps Up Research Commitment In 2019

With a growing importance in bringing new product technology to the farming landscape, Western AG has bolstered its research capacity and recently welcomed a new RD&E Agronomist to the company. Adrik Wright will be assisting research trials across the Western AG footprint. Adrik has extensive knowledge in environmental monitoring after completing an Environmental Science degree some 10 years ago and is currently completing a further Agricultural Science degree at Latrobe University. His primary role within Western AG will be to assist in the extensive trial program that we are undertaking and deliver quality results for our research partners and clients.


The Western AG research work for 2019 includes:   

Syngenta: Replicated trials looking into the key pipeline products to be release in the next 1-3 years including blackleg seed treatments/fungicides, broadleaf Pre-Em controls in pulse crops and broadleaf Pre-Em control in cereals. More details of the products will become available throughout the season with opportunities for clients to visit specific trial sites and view results.


SprayGro: Replicated trials surrounding copper applications and the influence on yield and grain quality in copper deficient soil types. Trial work will also integrate how copper is delivered and the use of Custom Trace Element mixes to determine differences between products and timings.  


Sipcam Aust & SFS: Replicated trials evaluating the plant activator product Avalanch and stress mitigation in Faba Beans. This trial will aim to answer questions around applications at key timings that influence the stress effects of heat & frost at flowering. It is focussed heavily on premium fungicide strategies intended to eliminate as much risk from foliar disease as possible using a premium approach to fungicides.


Nufarm: Replicated trial work and demonstrations around key pipeline products will begin in early Spring with pre-launch information to assist product awareness and adoption.


CSIRO, Flurosat, Agworld, PCT, AgLink Project: This research involves a 3-year government funded program looking to develop predictive tools to help Growers and Agronomists make more informed decisions on nitrogen, crop stress, moisture status and aid a better decision-making process overall. Western AG’s key role within this project is to help “ground truth” layers, enhance the power of the algorithm and speed up learning to improve result accuracy.  More information on this trial will be available once the “ground truthing” begins.  Please contact Western AG if you have any questions or would like to assist in the collection of data for this project.
As well as the key projects listed above, Western AG is conducting a multitude of on-farm demo strips looking into new pasture, canola and cereal varieties as well as simple nutrition demonstrations for on-farm validation of soil results. For any further information on the 2019 trial program, please don’t hesitate to contact Western AG.


Article produced by - James Jess, Western AG Bannockburn

Group I Herbicide Resistance in Wild Radish …… So, What’s Our Strategy?

Herbicide resistant wild radish is a developing issue within Victorian cropping systems. While resistant Wild Radish populations have been present in areas of Western Australian cropping regions for some time, similar resistance has now crept into Victoria. Chris Preston, in conjunction with University of Adelaide, first detected resistant populations in the Hamilton region around 5 years ago. 


Further to these findings, last year an incidence of poor Wild Radish control in a wheat paddock near Hamilton sprayed with a Group FCI herbicide prompted Western AG to send samples for resistance testing to Plant Science Consulting. Results indicated a 40% resistance to Group I phenoxy chemistry (MCPA) and 10% resistance to the Sulfinoamide (Eclipse) subgroup of Group B herbicides.


Photo 1. Resistant wild radish biotypes versus non-resistant check to LVE MCPA. Photo courtesy of Plant Science Consulting P/L

Historically in the Hamilton region, tank mixes for wild radish control in wheat have consisted of LVE MCPA (Group I), Ally (Group B) and Tigrex (Group F and I) so, whilst a result showing 40% resistance to Group I isn’t surprising, this is cause for concern. Resistance levels at this percentile are considered weak, however spray efficacy is still impacted as plants can recover by the development of new shoots and if left unchecked further resistance could occur rapidly.


To combat this ever-increasing issue, Western AG are recommending application strategies to ensure that Wild Radish populations are not surviving through sublethal doses by adopting a two-spray approach taken to Wild Radish control. Ensuring that target plants are small, using products that contain multiple chemical groupings and using top label rates are all suitable tools that need to be used to ensure effective control of Wild Radish in crop.  


Overall, when it comes to Wild Radish resistance, a “take no prisoners” mentality is critical to ensuring populations are managed at every opportunity with timely applications to minimise the reintroduction of resistant seeds back into the seedbed. A lack of control now could result in a major issue that is very difficult to control in the future, as what has happened in Western Australia. The Western AG Agronomists will be partnering with growers to carry out further testing over the coming months to determine resistance levels on a property level so that appropriate control can take place to stop the spread of resistant seeds. Further information on these findings will be shared later in the year. If you have any concerns about Wild Radish resistance on your farm, please contact your Agronomist to have a resistance test sent to Plant Science Consulting.


Article produced by - Claudia Higgins, Western AG Hamilton

The Role of Soil Nitrogen and Sulphur and the Importance of Subsoil Testing


Deep Nitrogen and Sulphur subsoil testing provides growers with a snapshot of what’s available in their soils and allows for more accurate fertiliser topdressing applications.


Nitrogen and sulphur are essential elements in plant nutrition, they are required for a range of plant functions and structures. The roles of these two elements are often linked, such as both being key building blocks of proteins. The major supply pathway of these elements to broadacre pastures and crops is facilitated through the soil in the root zone, where a range of nitrogen and sulphur containing compounds are often present. The proportions and concentrations of these compounds in the soil changes over time, due to a range of factors (crop residue levels, microbes, temperature, moisture/rainfall, soil type etc.). However, only a limited number of these forms of nitrogen and sulphur can be extracted from the soil by the plant in significant quantities.      


Nitrate/ammonium and sulphate are compounds of nitrogen and sulphur, respectively, and play a critical role in the take-up of these nutrients into plants. These compounds behave similarly in soil, being that they are very mobile. This common feature contributes to the ability of the plant root to take in these compounds through the soil, as it does to their tendency to move/leach down through the soil profile, particularly under wet conditions.


Particularly in the HRZ of Western Vic, leaching is one of the major ‘loss’ pathways by which nitrogen and sulphur leave the root zone and can have a significant effect on the availability of these nutrients to plants. In broadacre cropping systems, losses of these nutrients, through processes such as leaching, unless corrected can lead to nutritional deficiencies that restrict crop production/quality. The replacement of nitrogen and sulphur back into these systems is generally achieved with fertiliser applications (e.g. urea and sulphate of ammonia), however the various forms of these nutrients in these applications are all ultimately prone to the same loss pathways. While these nutrients can leach down through the soil and away from the immediate root zones of establishing crops and pastures, their accumulation deeper down the soil provides a potential source of nitrogen and sulphur for more established root systems later in the season. 


In Australian Broadacre cropping systems, deep soil samples (0-60cm cores) are collected and analysed to give an indication of mineralised nitrogen (nitrate and ammonium) and sulphur (sulphate) available to crops in the subsoil. Taking deep N+S samples during the Autumn/Winter period is critical to determining what nutrient levels are in your soils. Growers and advisors are then able to make more accurate decisions around fertiliser rates and timing in the hope of maximising yields and ROI. Speak to your Western AG agronomist today to plan your next paddock sample.  


Article produced by - Darcy Bullen, Western AG Nhill

Seasonal Risk for Barber’s Pole Roundworm in Sheep

With strong autumn and early winter rainfall, now is the peak risk period for Barber’s Pole in sheep.

Barber’s Pole Roundworm is a blood sucking parasite which is quite dangerous for sheep, causing an infection known as Haemonchosis which can result in anaemia, lethargy and death. Barber’s Pole is most commonly found in areas that are dominate of summer rainfalls but are now becoming quite prominent in the southern states.


Figure 1:  The lifecycle of Barber’s Pole worm in sheep

The female worm bears the pink and white pattern that resembles a barber’s pole and gives the Haemonchus Contortus its’ common name.  The male worm is pale pink in colour and much shorter in length (15mm) than the female (23-30mm).


The female worm can lay up to 10,000 eggs a day, compared to other worms only laying 100’s of eggs a day.  It only takes 3 weeks for larvae to grow into an adult, therefore infection levels can build very rapidly providing a much higher worm egg count than compared to other common worms.


Overall, Roundworms cost the sheep and wool industry in excess of $430 million per year (Lane et al. 2015); well up from the $350 million estimated by Sackett et al (2006). The impact of Roundworms represents the highest animal health cost to the Australian sheep industry. The annual cost of Roundworms is estimated around $6.00/head being lower in the sheep/cereal zone and highest in summer high rainfall zones (HRZ) where the Barber’s Pole predominates. About 80% of the annual cost is attributed directly to lost production with the remaining 20% associated with the costs of control (Worm Boss).


Barber’s Pole Roundworms have a very strong ability to develop resistance to the various classes of worm drench so great care must be taken when working out a program. Combination drenches, with actives such as Moxidectin, Closantel and Abamectin, are most affective.  Please do not hesitate to contact your Western AG Animal Health Specialist’s to help design your drench program today.

Article produced by - Katrina Ridgway, Western AG Ballarat

Decipher Provides Growers With The Data and Tools to Optimise Yields

Decipher is a world-class biomass mapping tool that uses satellite images, geospatial data and global-scale processing to bring you reliable vegetation analysis in seconds all in the palm of your hand.


Decipher and Western AG have teamed up to provide both our agronomy team and growers with this scouting tool, free of charge. Decipher’s world-class satellite imagery provides up to 10m of high definition normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), to help visualise what’s happening on a paddock/farm. Pests, diseases, weed and nutritional issues can be picked up well before the naked eye can. For example, through the satellite imagery, agronomists have picked up slug damage in canola in the HRZ as well as Lucerne flee damage and ryegrass blow-outs in cereal crops up in the North. In simple terms, this technology helps agronomists and growers make more informed management decisions leading to maximised crop yield and ROI.

Photo 1.  Decipher NDVI image taken in a canola crop September 2019 showing high ryegrass/grass activity indicated by the yellow/red areas

Grower’s shape-files contained on Agworld can be easily uploaded onto the Decipher platform. Then, when users log in, producers can quickly identify paddock boundaries for their whole farm. This technology could also have various management fits such as when cutting frosted crops or severe ryegrass infestations for hay, maintaining watch on insect pressure in problematic areas and comparing different soil types are affecting yield results from season to season. Biomass imagery can allow comparisons to like-to-like performance across months / years with peak imagery and monitor trends and changes month on month in an easy to read graph. With regular imagery available, sometimes daily, accurate and timely data is available for supporting everyday management decisions.


Decipher also provides a great tool when undertaking on-farm trials such as N-rich strips, trace element trials or side by side cultivar trials. These trials can be verified with bio-mass imagery on Decipher as well. There is nothing like “ground truthing” and/or yield data, but the Decipher platform allows for a quick, easy and early in-season reference which is a valuable tool.  


In the not too distant future, Decipher will be able export maps into your machinery for variable rate applications. Western AG are currently doing VR applications on various controllers with great success through the PCT AgCloud platform.

Please contact a Western AG agronomist if you would like to know more about our technology programs and would like to start using the Decipher platform.

Article produced by - Nick Zordan, Western AG Horsham

Welcome To The Western AG eNote

Hello everyone and welcome to the very first edition of our eNote. We have moved away from producing hard copies and this new electronic format is designed for easier reading on an iPhone or iPad. Our intention moving forward is to produce a greater volume, but shorter editions of our newsletters to keep you better updated on important, new and emerging issues.


February, March and April have been exceptionally dry and warm resulting in minimal germination of weeds and annual pasture species. The risk of loss of dry sown crops and pastures particularly in higher rainfall areas is low and usually occurs when there is just enough moisture to allow germination followed by extended dry and hot conditions. The benefits of dry sowing are that crops and pastures emerge on the first rains compared to sowing post rain and losing this moisture, this has been a winning strategy for us in the past. Some Pre- Em programs will need to be tweaked; chemical such as atrazine, diuron and dual do not work well in dry soil.


It is important that crops emerge as early as possible and the belief that you should wait for rain for weeds to germinate is a myth. Yield is maximised and weed seed set production is reduced by sowing into warm soil favouring rapid crop growth and combining this with a robust pre-emergent program.


With the majority of SE of Australia still remaining dry, the price of grain, hay and straw is staying high and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) still forecasting a reasonably average rainfall for the next 3 months making, in our view, the glass half full for the 2019 season.


The very best of luck for the season from the Western AG team and we hope you enjoy our newsletter.

Key Considerations For Legume Inoculation This Season

Applying inoculants at sowing time is critical for nodule formation on the roots of legumes.

Inoculants contain microscopic rhizobia that convert atmospheric nitrogen into plant available soil nitrogen through nodules on the roots of legume plants. This nodulation process is important for the legume plant to produce its own nitrogen requirement as well increase the soil N for future crop rotations. This extra nitrogen is of great benefit to crops grown in the following year and can reduce the need to apply inorganic fertilisers.


Rhizobia contained in inoculant must be placed near the seed in the furrow to allow communication with early roots to start the nodulation process. This is especially important in paddocks that have no previous inoculation history, as it is unlikely that there would be enough naturally occurring rhizobia in the paddock to effectively start the nodulation process to fix nitrogen during the season. 


The most common forms of inoculant for broadacre cropping is peat and granular. Peat inoculant that is applied as a slurry directly onto the seed provides consistent coverage, ensuring high rhizobia availability, thus achieving good nodulation rates. However, the application of peat slurry to seed is a bit of a messy job and demands a bit more time of the grower. Peat slurry inoculation has a 24 hour turnaround time for sowing, which growers can also find difficult to achieve at times. 


Self-sticking peat formulations are also available, which allow peat to be applied dry to seed as it moves up the auger into seeding equipment. This does simplify the application process, although it should be noted that the inclusion of moisture, either by pre moistening seed or creating a slurry, will encourage better nodulation as rhizobia need moisture to survive in the soil. This will also help increase the sticking potential of the peat to the seed. 


Using granular inoculant instead of peat can alleviate some of the application issues, as it doesn’t need to be made into a slurry and hence is easier to move through machinery. However, it is recommended that the granules are completely separated from the seed for application accuracy. This is usually achieved by sowing the granules through the small seed box.


Acidic soils are another constraint to nodulation in legume crops and affect rhizobia survival in both granular and peat inoculant situations. Recent studies by Ross Ballard of SARDI have found that survival and efficacy of rhizobia in acidic soils is much lower compared to soils with a higher pH. The effectiveness of the rhizobia has been shown to improve by increasing inoculant above label rates, especially when a paddock is being sown to legumes for the first time and has no background rhizobia.

In response to this issue, the SARDI research team have been developing several strains of acid-tolerant rhizobia for future release in commercial inoculants. These products are still in the trial phase, with experimentation to conclude at the end of the year. Western Ag will provide more information on the progress of these as they become available. For any further information regarding inoculation of legumes in sub-optimal soil conditions and product availability for this season, please don’t hesitate to call myself or the Western AG team.

Source: Maarten Ryder. University of Adelaide
Photo 1: Adequate nodulation on Faba bean plants is considered to be between 50-100 nodules per plant, while poor nodulation is considered to be less than 20 nodules per plant
Article produced by - Claudia Higgins, Western AG Hamilton

Optimum Flowering Dates of Wheat in SW Victoria

With late Spring frosts continuing to cause big headaches for growers in South West Victoria, it is a harsh reminder of the importance of wheat varietal selection and key sowing dates to achieve optimum flowering windows.

By getting back to some basic agronomy we can often have a large impact on profit margins. Considering that there are no added costs for choosing the right sowing dates, there is potentially excellent financial returns from just spending a little more time getting this right specifically for your growing environment. 


There are other factors to consider when you look at how to achieve optimum yields for your variety. Frost, heat and water are three major factors which should be considered when determining sowing dates and varietal choice. For example, if flowering occurs too early, there is an increased risk of frost and if flowering is too late then there is increased risk of moisture stress leading to poor grain fill. Therefore, it is important to find a balance. 


Traditionally in the western districts of Victoria a lot of wheat has been sown from early May through to the middle of June. Longer season winter type wheats will however allow for earlier planting dates, which can significantly improve yield and frost risk.


As can be seen in figure 1, at Lake Bolac the highest wheat yield occurred when the flowering date was around the 20th of October. In order to achieve this flowering date around Lake Bolac with a slow maturing winter type we would need to sow around the 15th of April or earlier. This will vary slightly year to year due to season variability but the crop phenology and days to flowering for each variety will remain constant.


Winter wheat: Winter types have a strong vernalisation requirement meaning they must experience a certain period of low temperature before they can begin their reproductive phase. This allows popular winter varieties like Accroc, Revenue & Adagio to be planted much earlier than spring types. There is still some degree of risk to the grower however as there will need to be enough moisture to germinate and sustain the crop until winter kicks in. Winter wheats have a longer season length to accumulate dry matter, grow root mass and ultimately set a higher number of grains/m2 and therefore better yields. Studies conducted by James Hunt (Research scientist CSIRO) have shown that including a slow maturing variety (early April sowing) in your program you will increase your average whole farm wheat yield whilst reducing frost risk. These varieties are a good option to put into frost prone areas such as paddocks with low elevation zones.    


Spring wheat: Spring types have a weak vernalisation sensitivity and while exposure to cold temperatures will speed up their development rate, they will eventually flower regardless of whether they are exposed to cold temperatures or not. They have a stronger response to photoperiod (day length). Planting these cultivars too early will cause them to go into the reproductive phase earlier then is optimum. This shortens the vegetative phase which ultimately reduces potential yield as well as causing flowering to occur during a higher frost risk period.

Sowing windows to achieve optimum yield potential in south west Vic

Winter wheat (Revenue, Accroc, DS Bennett, Adagio) - Early March to mid-April.

Slow maturing spring wheat (Beaufort, Bolac, Phantom, Trojan) – Late April to early May

Mid-fast spring wheat (Derrimut, Beckom) – Early to mid-May


Obviously, there will be exceptions to some of these optimum planting windows as there is such a large variation of influencing factors across the south west. These sowing windows give a general guide as to when we should be looking to get our seed in the ground.


With drier finishes and historically a longer frost period around flowering, sowing dates have become a hot topic. This is something that you should discuss in depth with your agronomist to work out what sowing dates and cultivars best suit your area and business.

Article produced by - Lachlan Bullen, Western AG Ballarat

Snails – What is Your Baiting Strategy?

At this point in time baiting is the only effective broadscale chemical control option that we have for snails.

Timing of baiting is critical to achieve effectiveness and to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. Snail activity increases during the autumn with dewy mornings and with the odd shower of rain. However just because they are moving doesn’t mean they will go to baits and graze. They need to be in grazing mode before they will eat.


What makes them want to graze? Well, we don’t fully know - but we do know they need to re-hydrate after a hot dry spell before they will graze.


How do you check that they are in grazing mode? Test baiting a small area is the answer. This is done by marking a couple of areas and baiting where you know snails are present. Snail responses may vary in different paddocks so spread 2-3 square metres with a high rate of baits. Come back and check these baited areas each morning to monitor activity. If they are ready to graze they would have gone to the baits, grazed and died. If you can’t find dead snails around baits then don’t waste your time and effort baiting your paddocks as you will not see satisfactory results.


Baiting needs to occur once you have deemed them to be in grazing mode as there are limited opportunities to control them before they lay eggs and start the cycle over again. As mentioned baiting is seen as the most effective form for the control of snails. There are however several cultural practices which can be implemented to help control. Burning excess stubble and cultivating paddocks can really help restrict snail numbers and can be used as a multi-strategy approach in your program.


Photo 1. A mixed population of White Italian and Small Conical Snails aestivating on a fence post. this photo was taken on the 27th March 2019. I checked to see if the snails were alive or dead – they were alive, but very dehydrated. When the shell was crushed, the snail body was only just damp and withdrawn right back into the shell. These snails will have to rehydrate before they will graze. If you squash a snail shell and you have a wet squashy mess on your fingers, then they are hydrated and probably ready to graze.


Photo 2. Small Conical Snail that is well hydrated and had been grazing on a placebo bait (no active ingredient). As you can see the bait has been ingested and is inside the snail’s gut. This is an example of a snail which is in grazing mode and is ready for baiting.

Once you have determined that the snails are ready to graze you must ensure that you are implementing the right baiting strategy. The rates for baiting needs to be determined by the level of risk. Don’t cut your rates where high numbers of snails are present, you need to have enough baits to allow all the snails to feed and get a lethal dose.  After a couple days, go back and check where you have baited to ensure that you have controlled the snails and there are still a few baits present. If you can’t find any baits and/or live snails, you will have to re-apply as it is likely that all the baits were consumed before all the snails were controlled. Please refer to the ‘test baiting’ method again to determine thresholds and your control strategy if required.

For any further information please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the Western AG team.


Article produced by - Andrew Heinrich, Western AG Naracoorte

Prevailing Dry Conditions- What Does This Mean For Your Lambing Ewe?

Ewes due to lamb in autumn and winter will often not be able to get all their feed requirements from the pasture.

In autumn the feed is usually short and dry, and lacking in energy and protein. The amount of dense, green perennial pasture required for a lambing ewe to maintain weight is:

  • 900kg DM/ha FOO (feed on offer) by day 90 of pregnancy (about 2.5cm of dense green pasture)

  • 1200kg DM/ha food at lambing for single-lambing ewes (about 4cm of dense green pasture)

  • 1800kg DM/ha for twin-lambing ewes (about 7.5 cm of dense green pasture)


The requirements increase by 80% for twin bearers and 50% for single bearers by lambing. This further increases after lambing.


The graphs below show the importance of good ewe health. (LTEM)


There are number of other health issues to be aware of during the Autumn. The most common is internal parasites. Rainfall during the Autumn triggers egg laying of parasites which will hatch and develop into larvae unless a summer control program has been implemented for prevention. Calcium (hypocalcaemia) can be an issue after the break and can occur when sheep are put under a bit of stress eg. Moving, yarding etc. Treatment with and flow pack (4in1 or straight calcium) can help and in most cases they will recover.


The importance of a quality feed supplement at this time cannot be underestimated as it is a very critical time for a lambing ewe. It is important to reach our FOO targets and have parasites under control otherwise it will severely affect the performance of our ewe. Balancing dietary requirements and parasite risk in a lambing ewe is pivotal to ensuring we convert as many foetuses to marked lambs as possible.


Western AG have highly skilled Animal Health and Nutritionist team that can help you make a supplement plan for your livestock. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the Western AG animal health team for further information


Article produced by - Katrina Ridgway, Western AG Ballarat

Precision AG Options For Your Cropping Operation

Western AG’s recent collaboration with key Precision AG services provides growers with the tools to increase farming production.

There are currently numerous Precision AG services on the market for farm adoption. How do we distinguish between these services? - Western AG have been working hard to find the right product to suit our clients and the environment they work in. A lot of competitors are offering north American/Canadian based products which we believe aren’t accurate enough for the variable soil type and environment in which our clients farm. With this in mind, Western AG has tailored a more localised precision AG service offering for growers to help improve farming production.


Western AG has recently announced a collaboration with Precision Agriculture which is a locally based PA service provider in Ballarat. They are a leader in Precision AG servicing, through collecting, measuring and interpreting data to deliver savings and unlock farming potential. We are using them for grid sampling and EM38 mapping as well as any strategic topsoil and deep N testing. Their service will form the base ground truthing layers essential for us to be able to do any variable rate application. After grid soil mapping a property, we can accurately provide variable rate application. Variable rate application types include; lime, gypsum, Phosphorus and Potassium.


Another exciting Western AG collaboration is with Precision Cropping Technologies (PCT) which is a cloud-based platform that allows us to import, clean, present and analyse in field data from our clients farms. They are an independently owned and operated software company developing specialised Precision AG data solutions. They will help us make more informed decision based on farm analytics gathered through yield maps, grid soil maps, satellite imagery (NDVI) and application data from farm machinery. Their service will allow us to produce prescription maps for variable rate application as well as setting up trial strips in paddocks for any RD&E work.


PCT has direct links with JDlink which enables automatic data importing, reducing the risk of any potential data loss during the harvest season. This also allows the ability to push prescription maps into farm machinery from the office. In addition to this, PCT also talks directly with Agworld which is currently being used to manage all our paddock and cropping plan data for our clients. This will allow the agronomist to view any yield maps from the one interface whilst crop scouting.

By combining PCT with Precision Agriculture we believe we can provide our clients with a solid package which includes accurate ground truthing as well as a platform capable of interpreting any farm analytics. Western AG endeavours to provide these services to our clients to help increase farming production.


For any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the Western AG team


Photo 1: Examples of variable rate application Maps through grid sampling.

Article produced by - Sam Gabbe, Western AG Horsham

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