DRY conditions in the Lockyer Valley over the 2015-16 summer cropping season forced many irrigated croppers to change their plans.
Glenn Davis, who runs a dairy farm at Lockrose near Gatton with father Warren and brother Kerrod, was one of them.
Mr Davis relies on bores and a yearly allocation from Lockyer Creek to grow crops on 156 hectares, with an additional 40ha of leased land.
However, a by-product of the tight water supply was the successful reintroduction of grain sorghum to his ration mix after a ten year hiatus.
“We irrigate most of our crops, especially corn, and we decided to add sorghum because water was an issue last summer,” he said.
“Dad grew it a while ago, and after we got talking, we thought it was time for a comeback.”
Mr Davis milks up to 180 Jersey and crossbred cows in a herringbone setup.
Fifty per cent of the land is used for pasture and 50pc is for cropping.
“We use a partial mixed ration (PMR), grazing ryegrass in winter and lablab and forage in the summer, then grow grain like corn and sorghum in summer and barley in winter.
“Corn is also grown as silage.”
They decided to sow six hectares of long maturity variety MR-Apollo in late-November.
“I talked with dad, talked with researchers at UQ, hopped on the internet and found the long maturity variety I wanted.”
Using minimum till methods, it was sown into barley stubble with a John Deere MaxEmerge at a row spacing of 76cm and sowing rate of 100,000 seeds/ha – a little higher than the desired 90,000 seeds/ha due to a planter malfunction.
CK88, a NPKS fertiliser blend containing potassium as muriate of potash, was applied at 300kg/ha at-plant.
The paddock was then side dressed with 250kg/ha of urea halfway through growing and harvest was finished by mid-April.
With just 20 millimetres of in-crop rainfall last season, they had to perform four runs with the boom irrigator.
“We had about 20mm of rain after harvesting the barley in October and so the sorghum was sown into a full profile of moisture, but it was a very dry season – it wouldn’t have had 20mm over it.”
It’s a good variety under full irrigation, with a good head size and very big red grain.
At harvest, the crop yielded 6.7 tonnes per hectare on average.
“It’s a good variety under full irrigation, with a good head size and very big red grain. It didn’t look back.”
Mr Davis said the successful reintroduction of sorghum at their dairy farm has spurred him on to grow more this season.
“We’re looking to double the amount of Apollo this year.”
The third-generation farmer said while they have not conducted feed tests on the sorghum, it has helped them reach their target of 15-20L of milk per cow per day (averaged across the year) in a more affordable way