Nitrogen Efficency Field Day- Tuesday 6 June


Nitrogen fertiliser is an expensive input and improving the efficiency of in-crop applications can save money and boost production. To help farmers maximise the response to applied nitrogen, local farming systems group Riverine Plains Inc is holding a drop-in Nitrogen Efficiency Field Day at Henty on Tuesday 6 June.

“When it comes to improving the efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser uptake in broadacre crops, one of the simplest things we can do is to ensure our spreading equipment is working as it is designed to” explains Riverine Plains Inc Extension Officer, Dr Cassandra Schefe.

“Many fertiliser spreaders distribute fertiliser unevenly, which can then lead to unevenness in crop growth, development and maturity.  Calibrating equipment helps achieve a more even fertiliser throw, which can then improve yield potential” said Cassandra.

To demonstrate calibration techniques, Russell Nichol, a Fertcare registered calibration specialist, will calibrate 4 machines including an Amazone ZAM Ultra Profis, an Amazone Profis 3600L, Amazone ZA-M 1501 3-point linkage and a Landaco TS10000 trailing spreader.

As he works, Russell will discuss his techniques so that farmers can use them on their own equipment.

Another way to improve efficiency is by timing fertiliser applications to avoid nitrogen losses.

“A proportion of applied nitrogen fertiliser can be lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide gas, particularly when conditions are extremely wet. These losses reduce the efficiency with which applied nitrogen can be used by the plant” says Michael Straight from FAR Australia.

“We have just finished a project looking at nitrous oxide emissions in cereal crops, and now have a better understanding of how nitrogen applications can be timed to improve plant nitrogen uptake efficiency, and will be presenting these findings on the day” said Michael.

The day will begin at 9:30am at Peter Campbell’s property “Avondale”, 452 Henty-Pleasant Hills Rd, Henty (Google Maps Reference 35°28’48.6″S 146°52’22.3″E). All are welcome and there is no cost to attend. Morning tea and lunch will be provided – please RSVP to assist with catering.

The day is being jointly held as part of the GRDC project Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubbles in the Riverine Plains region, as well as by the Management strategies for improved productivity and reduced nitrous oxides emissions project, supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Action on the Ground program.

For further information please see the Nitrogen Efficiency Field Day Flyer 2017 or contact Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713 or

New publication: Soil Carbon In Cropping Systems

Riverine Plains Inc has just released Soil carbon in cropping systems, which is a new publication designed to help the region’s farmers better understand soil carbon and the role it plays in crop production systems.

The report summarises the key findings from the Riverine Plains Inc managed project Increased soil carbon by accelerated humus formation from crop residues (2012-2015), which specifically aimed to evaluate the potential for soil carbon to be increased by adding stubble residues and nutrients to soils during the summer fallow period.

While the final results from the research trials conducted at Rutherglen, Tocumwal and Culcairn were largely inconclusive when it came to building soil carbon levels from stubble (due to the short-term nature of the project), many other important practical, scientific and economic lessons were learnt along the way. Soil carbon in cropping systems brings together these key lessons, along with farmer case studies and soil science to help local farmers better understand their soil resource.

Soil Carbon in Cropping Systems was funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Victoria — Fast Tracking Innovation Initiative, made possible with the support of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) together with the William Buckland Foundation.

Increased soil carbon by accelerated humus formation from crop residues (2012-2015) was funded through the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture Action on the Ground program with support from project partners: Murray Local Land Services, the North East Catchment Management Authority and the Victorian Irrigated Cropping Council. The  Increased soil carbon by accelerated humus formation from crop residues project

Please follow the link to download a copy of Soil carbon in cropping systems. Alternatively, please contact Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713 or email to order a hard copy version (limited quantity available).

Harvest Weed Seed Tour – Review

By Kate Coffey, Riverine Plains Inc

A local Harvest Weed Seed Management tour was held on the 24th January.  The tour involved looking at three different options for harvest weed control and followed on well from what was learnt on the Western Australia study tour two years ago.

The day’s discussions showed many farmers have already adopted practices such as spray topping cereals and spraying behind canola windrows. However, the difficulties encountered last year with weed control in wet conditions has focussed attention on the need to also do something at harvest.

The techniques that were viewed and discussed on the day included:

  • Separating chaff and straw, dropping chaff on top of the straw and baling (Trevethan Farms, Corowa).
  • Collecting the chaff in a cart towed behind the header (Wayne and Curt Severin, Brocklesby).
  • Adding a ready-made chaff deck  to the header to separate the chaff from straw, placing it in the wheel tracks (Chris Blomeley, Mulwala).

Visit 1  to the Trevethan family property saw Ian describe their header modifications (done this year with the assistance of engineers) in order to separate the chaff and straw. This involved changing the spinners and adding chutes and funnels so that the chaff could be dropped on top of a narrow windrow of straw.  The straw is  baled as soon as possible after harvest to ensure that as many weeds as possible can be removed from the paddock.

NOTE: The efficiency of this method will be analysed in a GRDC funded Harvest Weed Seed Control for the Southern Region demonstration site.  The site will compare the efficiency of the “chaff dropped on top of narrow windrow and baled” method, versus a more traditional narrow windrow burn as well as a blanket burn.

Visit 2 was to the Severin family, who have used a chaff cart for many years.  Curt has recently built a new cart, with several design improvements. The cart is towed behind the header and works by blowing the chaff  onto a conveyer belt, which feeds in to the top of the cart.  A camera in the header shows when the cart is full (or near to), so the cart can be emptied in the headland while turning without stopping.  The chaff is dumped in the paddock every few runs.

One of the problems with this method has been removing the “chaff dumps”, which was previously done by burning. The dumps can take a long time to burn but breaking them up with a loader can help them burn more quickly.  The preferred  option is to bale the chaff, or to fence off the chaff dumps and strip graze with stock.  Canola chaff in particular is quite popular as a livestock feed.

Visit 3 was to the Blomeley family who built and trialled a “chaff deck” in 2012.  The deck separated out the chaff and placed it in the wheel tracks.  Once the weed seeds germinate the following year, weeds are controlled in the tracks using a shielded sprayer.

The chaff deck was abandoned due to design problems, which caused blockages where there were high residues.  In the future, Chris will use rotational crops (such as hay and faba beans) for weed control and investigate a prefabricated chaff deck, when he purchases a new header.

Summary: The day featured three different methods of managing weed seeds at harvest, all with the ultimate goal of reducing paddock weed seed numbers.  Each method had its pros and cons, and as one farmer said “it doesn’t matter what weed seed collection/destruction system you are using, as long as it is causing a reduction in the weed numbers over time”.

Thanks to all our farmer hosts and organisers.

View A short clip of Ian Trevethan’s header in action. The header has been modified to separate the chaff and drop it in a narrow windrow. 

View a short clip of Curt Severin’s chaff cart in action.

Soil Pit Day & Nitrogen Workshop – Boorhaman

Soil Pit Day and Nitrogen Workshop on Thursday 23 February at Boorhaman

Riverine Plains Inc and Boorhaman Landcare are hosting a soil pit and workshop morning as part of the Soil Moisture Probe Project with the North East CMA.

The day will commence at 9am with a visit to a soil Pit at Adam & Jane McInnes property, Robinsons Road (Between Jones Swamp Road & W Boundary Road, Boorhaman). We will look at the soil pit and use this as a backdrop to discuss the soil moisture results from the probes, the impact of soil type on water movement, and where the N went last season.

At 10:30, we will head to the Boorhaman Hall for a discussion about the effects of last season and also how this might affect nitrogen strategies for this season. We will also be discussing yield prophet before finishing for lunch at around 12:30 at the Boorhaman Pub.

Please RSVP for catering purposes, either by email to or phone 03 5744 1713.  This day is open for all, so feel free to forward on to others.

For further information, please see the February Soil Pit Flyer 2017

The Soil Moisture Probe Network Project is supported by the North East CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Corowa GRDC Grains Research Update

GRDC Grains Research Update (Corowa)

Venue: Corowa RSL, 30 Betterment Parade, Corowa NSW

The GRDC Grains Research Update provides a unique forum for growers and advisers to learn from and network with leading industry professionals.

Topics Include:

  • Opportunities and challenges for continuous cropping systems  – John Kirkegaard (CSIRO)
  • Strategic tillage – The Verdict – Mark Conyers (NSW DPI)
  • Riverine Plains Research in Progress  – Cassandra Schefe (RPI)
  • Living with the Russian Wheat Aphid – Frank Peairs, Colorado State University and Rachel Taylor-Hukins (NSW DPI)
  • South American Agricultural Study Tour – Roy Hamilton (RPI member)
  • Strategies to Manage Weed Seed Blowouts in 2017 – Greg Condon (GrassRoots Agronomy) and
  • Michael Walsh (University of Sydney)

Following lunch (2.00 pm to 3.30 pm), there will be an informal question and answer forum with Frank Peairs on the Russian Wheat Aphid

Please see the 2017 GRDC Corowa update invite for  further details.

Morning tea, lunch and proceedings booklet are included

Contact Name: Matt McCarthy

Contact Email Address:

Contact Phone: 03 5441 6176

Contact Website:

Cost (in AUD$): $30.00 per person, $20.00 per additional people from the same business

Local Harvest Weed Seed Management Tour

As many growers had weed issues last season due to poor access to wet paddocks, there has been widespread interest in harvest weed seed management.  In response to this, Riverine Plains has organised a local tour on Tuesday 24th of January to look at a number of different weed seed management tools and machinery modifications utilised over the recent harvest. 

The tour will start at the Howlong bakery at 9am, to return by about 1pm and will visit:

  1. Ian Trevethan, Howlong – Ian has built an addition to the header to direct chaff/ weed seeds on top of straw windrow for baling burning.
  2. Curt Severin, Brocklesby – Curt has built an elevator to capture all chaff from the header and direct it into trailing bin, to be dumped and pressed into bales.
  3. Chris Blomeley, Mulwala, with a chaff deck.

Carpooling will be arranged at the Howlong Bakery prior to departure. For further information, please contact the Riverine Plains office on 03 5744 1713.

Harvest Weed Seed Machinery Tour

As many growers had weed issues last season due to poor access to wet paddocks, there has been widespread interest in harvest weed seed management.  In response to this, Riverine Plains has organised a local tour on Tuesday 24th of January to look at a number of different weed seed management tools and machinery modifications utilised over the recent harvest. 

The tour will start at the Howlong bakery at 9am, to return by about 4pm (if it includes a trip to Violet Town), and will see:

  1. Ian Trevethan, Howlong – has built an addition to the header to direct chaff/ weed seeds on top of straw windrow for baling burning.
  2. Curt Severin, Brocklesby – has built an elevator to capture all chaff from the header and direct it into trailing bin, to be dumped and pressed into bales.
  3. Chris Blomeley, Mulwala, with a chaff deck.

There may be an opportunity to look at a baler connected to a harvester at Violet Town, which will be confirmed by Friday (hopefully).

If you are interested in attending, please let the Riverine Plains office know (03) 5744 1713 or by 9am Monday.

If there is enough interest, we can organise a bus.  Otherwise, carpooling will be arranged at the Howlong Bakery.

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting 2017


Riverine Plains Inc invites growers to attend Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting, to be held on February 2, 2017. The meeting is an opportunity for local farmers to discuss the harvest that was, the lessons learnt from 2016 and the challenges likely to arise in the season ahead. This event continues the tradition started by the late John Sykes and is named in his honour.

“Riverine Plains is particularly proud to be associated with this long-standing and important community event” said Riverine Plains Inc Extension Officer, Dr Cassandra Schefe.

“With the experiences of a particularly wet 2016 growing season still fresh in mind, the forum provides an ideal opportunity to flesh out the issues of 2016 and work out some strategies in preparation for the 2017 winter cropping season” she said.

The day will start with a post-harvest debrief session, run by Mark Harris from Rural Management Strategies. Mark will also address key aspects of preparing for the year ahead.

Using results from the NVT and other trials, Nick Poole from FAR Australia will speak on the best wheat variety options for the region, while Felicity Harris from NSW DPI will speak on Barley varieties. Rohan Brill from NSW DPI will speak on canola varieties and Lisa Castleman from Riverina Local Land Services will speak on the best bet pulse options for 2017.

Tim Glass from Lachstock Consulting will then present on aspects of grain marketing for the year ahead.

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting will be held on Thursday 2nd February, 2017 at the Buraja Recreational Ground Hall, commencing at 9am sharp until 12:30pm. All are welcome to this free event and a BBQ lunch will be provided afterwards. No RSVP is necessary.

For more information please contact Riverine Plains at, (03) 5744 1713 / 0419 238 798 or visit our new website at

Please see the Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting Flyer 2017 for further details

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to the new Riverine Plains Inc website.

Along with an all-new fresh feel, we’ve also made some important changes to the website’s functionality and design, which means it is now much easier to access important event and project information about the group.  Most importantly, the site is now mobile-friendly, which will make it easier to look up information on your smartphone or tablet when you are away from the office.

One of the biggest changes you will notice is our new website address: which replaces the old We made the change to better reflect our status as a not-for-profit association so please update us in your Favourites toolbar. The old website will shortly be de-commissioned and visitors to the site will be automatically re-directed to the new website.

The new website has been designed to make it easier to access all Riverine Plains Inc information quickly and easily.

The links to the automated weather stations (funded separately by GRDC and LLS) remain on our homepage, which is where you will also find our most recent news and events posts.

You will find all the details about our upcoming events located under the News and Events tab and we’ve even got a new calendar function to make it easier to see what is coming up each month.

Riverine Plains Inc publishes a number of reports for the various projects we manage and we now have a dedicated Publications page to make it easier to find and download specific publications. These publications are also contained on our Research page, which is home to general information for all our current projects, with summarised outcomes and publications from our past projects.

The website also contains information about the group, our staff and the committee, our sponsors and partners as well the Riverine Research Centre (the crop research site collaboration between Riverine Plains Inc and FAR Australia).

In our Members-Only areas you will find all our members-only publications, including all past newsletters, grower bulletins, trial books, as well as other useful information. Members-only passwords will be emailed to members shortly.

We are still tweaking some elements of the website design and consider that the website itself will continue to evolve in response to member and visitor needs. As such, we would love to hear your thoughts about ways we can improve the site.

Our website is one of the many ways we communicate with our members, sponsors and friends. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @RiverinePlains