The ultimate break crop

Matt Curtis.DON’T EXPECT it to be hitting the paddocks commercially any time soon, but Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSFP) have been experimenting with what they call the ‘ultimate break crop’.

As part of a crop sequencing project MSFP agronomist Michael Moodie said an experiment had been done using a mixture of canola and field peas.

The trial is being done at the Merbein South farm of Matt Curtis (pictured).

He said it would be simple enough to take the dual crop to harvest.

“You’d just have to grade the small canola seed out of the peas, it would be easy to do.”

He said there would also be potential to use the mix as a hay crop.

Mr Moodie said there were good disease management benefits, mixed with the nitrogen boosting capacity of pulse crops

“You’d get the benefits of growing canola, which is the one mainstream crop that doesn’t allow rhizoctonia in the soil, combined with the nitrogen fixing properties of peas.

“Along with this, you’d be able to get on top of your grasses, with two broadleaf crops grown together.”

Mr Curtis said the canola also provided a canopy for the field peas to grow onto.

“Peas can be a bit low on the ground here, so that would be useful.”

Mr Moodie said that as canola was not as competitive as cereal crops such as oats, it would be the best option to get the trellis effect.

However, Mr Moodie said the novel crop mix was unlikely to feature on a commercial scale.

“The yields just aren’t there at the moment, compared with straight peas or straight canola.

“We’re still looking at growing two break crops in a row as a means to get control over problem grass weeds, in particular brome grass.”

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