Dirt to $’s Cropping Challenge

The 2014 growing season marked the Canola rotation of Southern DIRT’s, DIRT to Dollar’s Cropping Challenge.

The challenge is based on a concept initially developed by the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) in Victoria, where 11 teams put their agronomic skills on the line to see who can not only grow the best crop, but make the most profit.

2014 saw the AWB Nufarm team take home the trophy for both the highest yielding crop and gross margin with their RoundUp Ready GT50 canola yielding 3.31 tonnes per hectare, with a gross margin of $962.85 per hectare.

Aside from the agronomic aspects of the competition, growers were required to market the grain that they had grown which produced some interesting results over the two years the competition has been run.

“Teams that chose to forward sell their grain in the 2013 wheat phase of the competition, tended to do a lot better than teams that chose the default price (the CBH price of the commodity as of December 31 that year), however in 2014 marketing was a less critical factor as the canola price keep on climbing late in the season” said Southern DIRT Executive Officer Pip Crook.

2014 was an exceptionally wet year in Kojonup with over 100ml of rain falling in both May and July, making timing of fertiliser application critical.

By having teams ranging from growers, agricultural college students and agribusiness providers, the challenge showcased a wide range of different approaches, but the proof has been in the pudding.

“As part of the evaluation we get a local farm consultant to run each groups numbers, what he found [the consultant] that there was no correlation between the amount for fertiliser applied and a particular group final gross margin. What seemed to be the determining factor was the timing of nitrogen applications rather than the quantity.” said Pip Crook.

This inadvertently tied in quite well with another trial the group was running with CSIRO’s Dr Heping Zhang, looking a nitrogen application timing with canola in the high rainfall zone.

2015 will be the final installment of the current competition with the final rotation being a barely crop.

As for competition plans in the pipeline Pip Crook says, “the board is currently reviewing  the success of the competition and will be looking to continue it [the competition] in some from in the future.”

The competition is set up in a randomised complete block trial design with the final analysis being based on a 50 hectare paddock.

The top teams, their gross margins and varieties grown are as follows (places based on highest gross margin):

  • 1st, AWB Nufarm: GT50 (Nuseed RR) T/Ha: 3.31 Gross Margin/Ha: $962.85
  • 2nd, Kojonup Ag Supplies: Crusher (Pacific Seeds TT) T/Ha: 2.78 Gross Margin/Ha: $858.89
  • 3rd, Denmark Ag College: GT50 (Nuseed RR) T/Ha: 2.84 Gross Margin/Ha: 801.49

For more information contact Pip Crook, T: 9831 1074 E: eo@southerndirt.org.au