This article is branded content for the QLD Government's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
The Muller family, in consultation with the Queensland Government's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), have been striving to improve their grain production practices for many years.
Scott and Krystal Muller, with his parents Gordon and Jenny, grow wheat and chickpeas in winter and mung beans and sorghum in summer on 800ha of their 1600ha on Karinga, in Biloela.
It was through DAF's Sustainable Grains Practices project, that aims to improve farm profitability and reduce runoff to the Great Barrier Reef, that the Mullers bolted down and changed the direction of their business.
"Like other primary producers involved with that project, we just wanted to learn, and improve what we were doing on-farm. We had nothing to hide. We got a lot out of it," Scott Muller said.
DAF staff went through Mr Muller's on-farm practices to identify areas he could improve, then worked with him to prioritise these areas to develop a plan of action and find areas where DAF could provide assistance to accelerate the adoption of practices that improved profitability and reef water quality.
"Through DAF we knew we were on the right track with our zero till system, which we introduced 15 years ago. We've also made significant changes, such as switching to liquid injection machinery," he said.
In 2020, Mr Muller retrofitted a WeedSeeker 2 spot sprayer system onto a 3 point linkage Hardie Boom. He's using it where weed pressures are low to target weeds, which is drastically reducing his chemical costs.
Mr Muller wanted something that folded and wing tilted during operation, as a solid or trailing system wouldn't have worked well in their undulating country, smaller paddocks and narrow contoured fields. Also, being able to travel between farms with ease was key. Buying the spot sprayer reduced the amount of pesticides applied, therefore reducing the runoff into waterways that lead to the reef.
"It's especially useful for controlling the feathertop rhodes and fleabane we have here. It's saving us up to 70 per cent in chemical costs, which has it a no-brainer."
Mr Muller has attended DAF events including soil conservation field days aimed at reducing the movement of sediment off-farm.
"I learned how to build contour banks and hold moisture back to stop sediment runoff, while using zero till. DAF provided a lot of information on how to effectively design, build, and maintain contour banks and waterways, as well as demonstrating the impact stubble cover has on water infiltration and runoff.
"We've bought levelling gear for our contour banks, to make sure the gradient is right, as after a while the old banks fill up if they don't drain properly."
This process, in conjunction with using less chemicals and utilising liquid injection, has improved the Muller's soil health without impacting their bottom line.
Mr Muller said the case studies DAF produces in relation to spot spraying all ties in well with what they're trying to achieve with stubble management, drainage and contour mapping.
"The DAF staff give us advice on any issues we're having, and they always give us a call to see if we'd like to attend any field days nearby."
For best practice farming advice in reef catchments, visit qld.gov.au/FarminginReefCatchments
This article is advertiser content for the QLD Government's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries