1994 - 1997
Sustainable Farming Systems Database
The Sustainable Farming Systems Database (1994 - 1997) was developed by HMLG with the aim of providing information to assist farmers in understanding their crop dynamics to determine optimum use of their land. This would have the benefit of sustaining profitable production while minimising environmental impact.
The database was populated using information collected via a survey. The aim of the survey was to understand how farmers were managing their crops and what practices were being used at the time, as well as adoption rates for new practices.
Data relevant to crop dynamics from a group of 50 growers across the Shire throughout the growing season was collected over a four year period. Intensive monitoring was also carried out at a subset of sites. Data collected included: details of actual paddock practices (e.g. sowing and cultivation methods), yields, lime application, soil degradation, soil types and structure, as well as rainfall. While initially focussed on wheat, the project was later broadened to include a range of standard crop rotations.
This was one of the first trials of its kind to begin setting target dates to have your crops in by. Results of this project also demonstrated and reinforced the benefits of direct drilling of herbicide, as well as the uptake and eventual standard use of soil testing as an active tool for land management.
Analysis of the database presented a snapshot of the sustainability of cropping within the Harden Shire during the 1990’s. This database has provided baseline data for larger-scale projects, as well as informed the development of models for sustainable cropping over the wheat/sheep belt of NSW & Victoria.
Some key outcomes of this project included:
More widespread use of soil testing to better understand soil factors affecting productivity
Improved understanding of the importance of lime to increased productivity in the Shire
Highlighted the need for growers to plan rotations and monitor
Information in the database led to higher yields and thus, profit
Provided impetus to question and remove non-performing district practices
Provided support to move towards reduced or zero tillage with confidence and success
Initially funded by the National Landcare Program. Extended with funding from Chandlers IAMA, Harden Consulting Service, R&N Gebhardt, Kennett Rural Services, Alcorns Fertilisers and Harden Shire Council