Home' Smart Farmer : May 2011 Contents May 2011
THERE IS little doubt that the most popular method of weed control in orchards and vine-
yards is chemical spraying. Be this as it may, consumers and many wineries are demand-
ing chemical-free produce and product. Perhaps the days of the fully-fledged boom spray
for weed control in orchards and vineyards are over and a new approach is developing.
Riverland-based Enviromist Industries, in conjunction with its France-based European dis-
tributor, Jean-Francois Stien of le Comptoir du Nouveau Monde, has developed a drift-
free machine to chemically control weeds. It is dual-purpose, eco-friendly spraying for
controlling weed in the vine rows while doubling as a dis-budding unit. The sprayer has
already won the Trophee Sante Securite MSA 2008 SFEL Award in France, which among
other things is aligned to Occupational Health & Safety design. Throughout the develop-
ment of the sprayer design, engineers had one criteria to follow -- it had to incorporate
the company's long-standing philosophy of using controlled droplet Application to lower
the volume and cost of the chemicals used. The sprayer is available on a trailer for two-
row spraying or in single row setups that users can mount to their own equipment. The
unit can apply 4 litres to 5L of chemical mix a kilometre of vine/orchard row, and with a
200L tank, will spray 40km of vine/orchard rows.
Mycorrhizal magic: new 'creature'
THE creature most often missing in
agricultural soils is a fungus that bur-
rows into the crop roots.
But it is not a disease organism,
and once locked into a food source
from the plant, it gives far more than
This generous life force is called Mycorrhizal
fungi and has become an unfortunate casualty in
There are two forms of the fungi: one surrounds
the plant roots and another physically attaches to
In both cases, they harvest sugar exudates from
the plant. AM create structures within root cells --
called arbuscules -- that facilitate the transfer of
nutrients between the plant and the fungus. It is
now acknowledged that these compromised crea-
tures may be the single, most important tool avail-
able to reverse global warming as they produce a
substance called glomalin.
In 1996, a researcher called Sara F Wright dis-
covered glomalin, a sticky substance produced by
mycorrhizal fungi that generates stable humus in
This remarkable material permeates organic
matter, binding it to silt, sand and clay particles in
the soil. The substance itself contains 40 per cent
carbon, but also creates aggregates that stabilise
carbon in the soil and prevent its return to the
atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle.
While humus-building is obviously important,
there are many other benefits associated with
increasing the number of AM fungi in soils.
One of these relates to the potential to reduce
the ever-increasing fertiliser bill.
Australia is experiencing another escalation in
the prices of NPK fertilisers with an increase in the
price of DAP/MAP of more than 30pc in just six
months. Peak phosphorous has already been
reached, and potassium is not far behind.
The key strategy for farmers, in the face of this
blowout in production costs, is to reduce reliance
upon these inputs and to increase their
efficiency. AM fungi can provide the key
as they effectively enable the recovery
of past investments.
The 10-fold increase in root surface
area provided by AMF allows exploita-
tion of a much larger root volume and
the uptake of all minerals is enhanced.
However, it is phosphorous that receives the
most profound kick along.
This mineral is notoriously unstable and it is sug-
gested that more than 70pc of all applied soluble
phosphate becomes locked up in an insoluble form
It has been estimated that more than $10 billion
of this frozen reserve remains frozen in Australian
agricultural soils. The key to accessing this treasure
is AM fungi. Many studies have reported increased
P uptake and associated improvements in early
growth and reproduction following inoculation
with Mycorrhizal fungi.
The maze of pipe-like filaments seeks this immo-
bile mineral and the acidic exudates of the fungi
solubilise locked up P and absorbs the mineral for
transportation back to the plant.
Several recent studies have shown that both
major forms of nitrogen-fixing organisms in the
soil improve their performance in the presence of
Mycorrhizal fungi. These two groups include
Rhizobium bacteria that are housed in the nodules,
attached to the roots of all legumes, and free-living
bacteria that surround plant roots to access sugar
These creatures convert nitrogen gas in the
atmosphere into ammonium nitrogen in the soil.
Mycorrhizal fungi are the perfect partners for nitro-
These creatures need an ongoing supply of
phosphorus to fuel the nitrogenase enzyme
responsible for converting the nitrogen gas in the
atmosphere into a plant food.
• Details: Bio-Tech Organics 08 8380 8554 or
"Eco-Ag...Way to Grow! "
The baling option can only be considered
if the area between the rows is wide enough
to take a trailing baler which, unless it is of
an in-line design, is generally offset behind a
Slashing and leaving the cover crop on the
ground as covering mulch will hold appeal
for many growers because it can be carried
out quickly and cheaply, however, it must be
pointed out that drying and rotting mulch
material can play host to many unwanted
pests and diseases.
Cover crops also help keep dust levels
lower, help prevent erosion because of heavy
rain, mid-row traffic and wind, help reduce
waterlogging and can be another tool in
weed control. It will also help in slowing
down soil compaction.
Probably the final management option
available to growers is using chemical sprays
to keep the inter-rows weed-free and have
bare soil at all times of the year.
The first and foremost consideration here
is the application of the chemical with no
drift or leftover residue on the produce to be
There are a number of spraying machines
on the market for this type of spray applica-
tion, one being the South Australian-devel-
oped Enviromist, which has built up an
enviable reputation for safe spraying without
Be it a mechanical or chemical approach or
even a bit of both, the method/s adopted will
come down to what is the most appropriate
for producing top-quality fruit for the best
possible returns in living and breathing
ordering season now open
order up to 500 native
seedlings (grown for you)
or 1000 (grow your own) for just $55*
Ph: (08) 8406 0500
• Fire Breaks • Fuel Load Reduction
• Fire Access Tracks • Asset Protection Zones
Clearing Bracken, Broome, Blackberry
and other Woody Weeds
Removal of Feral Olive and Fruit Trees, Vines
and Re-growth Pines
With minimal impact
Clearing Fence Lines, Under Power Lines,
Survey Access Tracks and Roadside Verges
Can handle steep terrain
Turning unwanted vegetation into mulch
Do you have land that's not
being utilised efficiently?
Clear unwanted vegetation
Claim back your valuable land!!
0407 718 711
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PTY LTD
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