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close up of barley grains
F1/BAR1 grade barley.

According to long-time BioAg customer Colin Falls, the main difference between a good farmer and a bad farmer is timing.

“Everything has to be done at the right time, and the windows for some events are changing. The sowing window is getting shorter and shorter, and if you don’t sow at the right time, that’s going to be a problem for the whole season.”

As the conversation progresses, it becomes clear that timing, while important, is not the only secret to Colin Falls’ success.

He’s a good farmer, getting consistent yields, even in these times of unpredictable rainfall, and climate variations.

“As long as you’ve got good moisture, adequate nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, the crop sown on time and summer weeds under control, what’s your next limiting factor to increasing yield? It’s micro nutrients and biology. BioAg offers that and we’ve seen the results on the farm. I have seen for myself that it makes better quality grain.”

Colin farms in central Victoria, growing crops and pasture, including pasture for hay and silage. Colin’s BioAg program has been developed in partnership with his local BioAg agent Adrian Hocking. For grain crops, he applies BioAg’s Soil & Seed at sowing using a boom spray, tank mixed with herbicides, trace elements and other chemicals as required. He’ll sometimes split the application, applying the knock down chemicals to control weeds and then Soil & Seed at or just prior to sowing.

Used in this way, Soil & Seed maximises fertiliser nutrient usage efficiency, digesting the soluble nutrients and putting them into a microbial state in which they are far more resistant to leaching or locking up.

The metabolites and biochemicals contained in Soil & Seed support the rapid acceleration of beneficial organisms that colonise the rhizosphere of the plant as it establishes roots after germination. This supports the health and vigour of the seedling and gets it off to a good start. As the root system grows, the organisms in the rhizosphere grow with it and provide greater protection against the negative impacts of soil pathogens.

After application, Soil & Seed has a softening effect on the soil, improving soil aeration and water filtration and creating an improved habitat for soil organisms and plant roots to flourish symbiotically.

Colin Falls (left) and BioAg agent Adrian Hocking work closely to achieve success with a BioAg program.

An accidental trial provides significant results

In 2019, Colin inadvertently set up a trial, comparing a barley crop that had been treated with Soil & Seed with one that had not.

“We had land that we had share-farmed for many years and were about to lose it, so we decided not to apply Soil & Seed and other nutrients.” He estimated that this would save about $25/ha in input costs.

The results surprised him, even though he’s been using BioAg products for nearly 20 years. He saw a significant difference in both yield and quality.

On the barley crop where Colin had applied Soil & Seed at sowing, the yield was just over 4t/ha, compared with the share farmed land at just under 3t/ha.

He harvested a superior F1/BAR1* grade barley from the land where Soil & Seed had been applied and found that the untreated crop yielded F3/BAR3 grade.

barley crop comparison in farmer hands
F3/BAR3 grade barley (left) from untreated fields compared to F1/BAR1 grade (right) harvested from fields treated with Soil & Seed

“Why did the crop go F3 on the share farm? The difference was Soil & Seed,” he said.

At BioAg, we enjoy welcoming new customers as well as working with long-term customers who have seen the benefits of our programs and products. Colin Falls is an excellent example of a farmer who cares for his property, collects data, understands and improves his soils and sees the benefits. Even in the most difficult years, when other properties are seeing greatly reduced or zero yields, he still manages to achieve at least average results. His years of experience and his willingness to partner with experts have helped him understand and work successfully with the complexities of farming.

“You’ve got to do everything right – it’s not one thing. If I had ten dollars to spend on a cropping program I’d make sure that the phosphorous levels and calcium levels were right, before I put on trace elements. But if you’ve got a full profile of moisture, you’ve controlled the summer weeds and your N, P and Ca levels are fine, then this BioAg Soil & Seed stuff really works.”

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