DEEP ripping is having a remarkable impact on soil moisture levels on the Wise family’s cropping operation at Avalon, Bowenville.
Lance Wise said a 12m wide Gessner Big Buck ripper had proven a game changer by breaking cultivation pans on both the farm’s red and black soils and enabling 100 per cent moisture penetration.
“We saw the benefits of deep ripping in non-wetting soils in Western Australia,” Mr Wise said.
“That seems to line up with an issue we had identified in these soils on Avalon. We felt the sponging affect was unnecessarily being limited and reducing the amount of available moisture to crops.”
After some trial work on a number of strips across the farm, the Wises made the decision to invest in the heavy duty Gessner machine, which was towed behind a John Deere 8370RT. That now critical piece of farm equipment is now hauled by a significantly more powerful 470hp John Deere RX9470 quad track tractor.
The Big Buck was used with 30 inch tyne spacings at depths of 25-30cm to break cultivation pans some 20cm below the soil surface.
Some 1100ha of the 1600ha farmed area has been deep ripped to date.
Mr Wise said those production limiting pans had developed as a result of convention cultivation prior to the zero till farming system introduced 20 years ago.
He said it was inspiring to see all of the 115mm of rain which fell on Boxing Day be absorbed into the newly ripped areas.
“There was just no runoff at all,” Mr Wise said. “Not a drop has left our place since we did the ripping.”
The result is that the Wise’s have been able to plant 900ha of barley and 400ha of chickpeas in an extremely challenging season.
“We received 8mm in May, which was enough to let us plant on top of the stored summer moisture,” he said.
“We’ve only received one other fall of 15mm a few weeks ago.
“The crop doing pretty good overall. It really ranges from bad to outstanding but that is to be expected in a season like this.
“Now we just have to sit on our hands and see what happens with the season.”