Geoff Rethus & family have a 4,000ha cropping program at Vectis near Horsham. Mixed crops of wheat, barley, canola, lentils, broad beans & oaten hay make up their production. This year has seen lower than normal yields with only 200mm of rain, the heaviest fall being 13mm in April. New farming techniques have improved yields even in drought years. Direct drilling was adopted by the Rethus family about 20 years ago but still 47% of the ground was being traversed by heavy machinery compacting soil. Control Traffic Farming (CTF) has reduced this traffic to just 10% of the ground. The results in improved soil structure can be shown by a moisture probe that can be easily pushed in 900mm whereas in a neighbouring, non CTF, paddock 300mm is the limit. Plant root systems are able to penetrate further, drawing moisture & nutrients from further down. This in turn builds up organic material further down encouraging roots to go even deeper.
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