Frustrated by the never-ending battle against weeds, Neville and Penny Boland, Boland Farming, Moonie have imported a blade plough from the United States in the hope that it will help tackle their herbicide resistance issues.
A retake on the piece of machinery that was popular in the 1970s but plagued by numerous problems, the Minimizer by Premier Tillage was designed to kill weeds by slicing the roots just under the surface, meaning minimal soil disturbance, moisture loss and erosion.
Battling fleabane, Feathertop Rhodes grass, milk thistle and roundup-resistant barnyard grass, Mr Boland said the blade plough was a cheaper way to do things.
“We just got to the stage where double knock, triple knock, and heavy use of residuals wasn’t working anymore,” he said.
“We didn't think we were getting value for money out of herbicides anymore, and the costs were just escalating.”
Ploughing the ground as shallow as three inches and leaving the stubble with minimal disturbance, Mr Boland said they were happy with the results they had seen so far.
“After harvest we used it first in the wheat stubble, and while the guys from Premier Tillage were over here I was trying to find the hardest piece of ground I could get to sort of learn about how they can pop out of the ground like the old ones, and found it worked really well,” he said.
Farmers in the Moonie district have shown great interest in the machine since it became part of the Boland’s weed management program.
“Everyone's heard these horrible stories about blade ploughs, how they're just terrible and they won’t go in the ground, but this one was going into the ground no trouble at all,” Mr Boland said.
“I think the most impressive thing was was how little fuel it was using, making it very cheap to run compared to what we're spending now on triple knocks and double knocks, WeedIt sprayers and all the residuals.”
“We're going to do a few little modifications to it to make it better in controlled traffic because we found that where the tramways are they're very hard and the blade was wearing out quite quickly on that hard bit.”
Brown sesame has long been a part of the Boland’s cropping rotation, but this year they are working with Israeli company, Equinom, on a seed increase of white sesame.
White sesame has long been a source of frustration for farmers because of its penchant for shattering, hence the saying open sesame, but Mr Boland said new breeding from Equinom was focusing on durability and yield.
“We use the sesame as a rotation with cotton and sorghum, and it’s great because it’s very drought tolerant,” Mr Boland said.
“I was always growing a common variety of brown sesame, and there’s not a lot of breeding gone into it.
“We need to work on getting the yields up, and that’s where these Israeli guys have stepped in.”
The white sesame has presented a new challenge in that it attracts heliothis, but Mr Boland said the crop was progressing well despite a dry start and minimal in-crop rain.