By March 2024, growers in the South Australian Mallee will have increased their knowledge of the power, fuel and labour cost implications for various soil amelioration tactics, to maximise the efficiency and profitability of soil amelioration.
Trial activities will take place at two sites across differing Mallee soil types to investigate a range of machine & tine types to capture key insights on operational costs (fuel, labour), efficiency (specific draft) and amelioration performance (crop response).
The first activity: a machinery performance evaluation, where a range of ripper tine types, operating depths, speeds and configurations (including spading) will be tested in a typical SA Mallee soil, including the impact of soil profile moisture conditions.
At this site, the soil strength will be characterised and draft requirements will be measured to quantify tractor power requirements, fuel use and labour cost/ha as a basis for optimising the operational costs of soil amelioration for growers in the Mallee region. A limited selection of treatments will be similarly evaluated at the second site to reference site impact.
The second activity will be established in the second year of the project and demonstrate treatments from the machinery evaluation activity best able to address the characterised constraints of the sandy soil type and the second site. Soil and crop responses to amelioration will be investigated at this second site capturing relevant soil property change, mixing of ameliorants and soil, and physical barrier removal.
A major field day activity will be conducted at the machinery evaluation site displaying relevant machines/tines and methodology for the project.
In year two (2024) of the project, the main field day activity (at the second site) will focus on soil and crop responses as well as result discussions from the machinery performance evaluation, relevant equipment and key messages.
GRDC project code MSF2201-001SAX.