While conventional growers may be tempted by premium prices (typically 20 to 30 percent) and expanding markets (consumer demand is expected to outstrip supply for many years), those converting to organic wheat production must understand, follow and commit to the principles of organic agriculture. For organic wheat production, the land must be managed according to organic standards for at least three years.
Other aspects of whole farm planning may involve water management and the use of contour banks to direct or store surface water. A comprehensive whole-farm plan that projects five to 10 years into the future is an important first step towards establishing an organic wheat production system. A well-designed whole farm plan should pay special attention to the conversion phase - the first three years of transition from conventional to organic management - when markets for 'in conversion' product may be uncertain and while practical experience is being developed.
Such a plan can allow easy integration of the ecological system into all agricultural activities. Financial risk can be managed and the adoption of each new operational component can improve the management and efficiency of the company. With the development of management experience and expertise, more real estate can be turned into an organic system.
Soil fertility and nutrient inputs
Deep raking at progressively deeper settings, in accordance with the depth of soil biological development, can be used to eliminate hard slab problems and increase the depth of soil biological activity and structure. In addition, many biological preparations can be used to inoculate the soil with beneficial soil organisms. Different sources of major nutrients (such as formulations containing acceptable forms of reactive phosphate rock, potassium, magnesium and trace elements) can be used in proven deficiency.
Application of soluble P fertilizers such as superphosphate or DAP is not allowed in organic production. However, less soluble forms of phosphorus such as reactive phosphate rock (RPR) or guano can be applied before planting. Deficiencies can be corrected by using a trace element mixture with permitted forms of the elements such as copper sulfate or zinc oxide.
However, other soil conditions such as pH and iron or aluminum binding can also affect P release to plants. Any source of phosphorus used in organic production must not contain high levels of cadmium. Rock phosphate contains negligible amounts of sulfur (unlike superphosphate), so in sulfur-deficient soils a separate source of sulfur, such as gypsum, may be needed.
Sources of potassium allowed under organic production include rock dust, alkaline slag, wood ash, sulfate of potassium chloride, and langbeinite. These claims are generally based on Albrecht's principles of plant nutrition (see Appendix 3), where the ratio of major cations on sandy soils should be 60 percent calcium to 20 percent magnesium, or on heavy soils 70 percent to 10 percent, respectively. . Soil used for wheat production in Australia can be naturally deficient in a number of important trace elements - particularly copper, zinc, manganese and molybdenum.
A grazing phase in the rotation plan for a paddock provides several opportunities for pre-crop weed control activities. Animals can be used to graze pastures before flowering to reduce weed seed set. If a campsite goes into cultivation next season, heavy grazing pressure can be applied to clear weeds, leaving the paddock with just enough cover to protect the soil from erosion.
Hand tractors and flame weeders are used for minor weed control or on site to prevent weed spread. Tillage should be kept to a minimum and is one of the last weed control methods used after the above weed prevention and reduction strategies have been applied. Additional cultivation may be necessary if weed control is poor, but at the cost of worsening soil fertility.
Pest and disease control
Selecting a competitive variety is likely to be useful when combined with other techniques such as increased crop density and delayed seeding to reduce early weed competition. If spike harrows are to be used over a young crop, higher seeding rates may be required to compensate for harrow losses. Sow rates as high as 150-200 plants per square meters has been shown (in conventional crops) to be around the upper limit before yield decline.
However, a growing range of biological control agents and other acceptable substances are being developed that can be applied where preventive strategies fail to provide economic control. Predatory mites are available and can be introduced - although their rate of spread is slow so wide area introductions may be needed. Similarly, the reported low incidence of root rot may be due to long rotations and good host grass management in pastures.
Organic farms are usually made biologically diverse, allowing for a series of cycles of natural biological control to develop and keep many pests or diseases at acceptably low levels. Biodiversity can be increased by using host belts, mixed species in pastures (including attractant species) and maintaining habitats for beneficial populations to persist. Not using pesticides, especially broad-spectrum substances that kill a variety of non-target creatures, also increases biodiversity and allows beneficial insects, spiders and other creatures to proliferate.
Outbreaks of major pest or disease problems usually indicate an imbalance exists and efforts should be made to correct the imbalance. The application of lime to raise the pH in acidic soil is reported to reduce RLEM severity. Neem oil-based product with pyrethrum has been reported to control RLEM in horticultural situations, but growers should ensure products are registered for use.
Preparing the land
Soil tests can be performed to monitor changes in soil conditions, guide decisions regarding soil fertility status, and any need for soil amendments. The last grazing year can be used to improve the soil and balance soil fertility. Soil additives such as lime, dolomite, gypsum, reactive phosphate rock, and other minerals may be scattered prior to ripping to obtain some of the soil penetration benefits of ripping.
Intensive grazing pressure of short duration, top layer grazing and possibly plowed grazing as green manure can be used to control weeds. This operation can also be used as an alternative opportunity to incorporate various soil amendments at a time when the decomposition of the green manure can help to mineralize the applied amendments. Soil amendments will have begun to mineralize and nutrient build-up should have reached sufficient levels.
Sowing a wheat crop
The depth of cracking can be gradually increased over time in accordance with the actual depth of soil biological development. Alternatively, at the end of the grazing phase, the stand can be mowed for hay or grazed very hard (or sometimes both), then left until seed germination before cultivating with a scarifier. After the first rains and good germination of the weeds - under ideal conditions where previous weed control was very good - some growers report that the crop can be sown without tillage by using a seeder to give good weed kill.
A barbed harrow chain can be run behind the planter to further kill weeds and level any ridges left by the cultivator or planter. Press wheels or rollers can be used to help the crop germinate well and are reported to be able to limit the germination of some weeds. An additional pass with heavy harrows or spiked harrows after seeding but before crop emergence can be used to kill weeds that survive seeding or have newly emerged.
Background - Organic and biodynamic regulations in Australia
Organic standards and certification Organic standards and certification Organic standards and certification Organic standards and certification Organic standards and certification. A producer intending to establish serious commercial production of organic wheat should seek organic certification to verify that the product is truly grown organically in accordance with reputable organic standards. In the Australian domestic market, there are currently no mandatory requirements regarding the labeling of products as organically grown.
Most reputable retailers require independent organic certification from one of the accredited AQIS organizations for products labeled as organic. harmonize national provisions for the production, certification, identification and labeling of organically and biodynamically grown products; Copies of national standards are available from certification bodies, Australian Government bookshops and the AQIS website (www.aqis.gov.au).
General requirements for organic certification
Protect consumers from fraud and deception in the market and from unfounded product claims;. There may be provision for part certification where part of a property is converted to an organic system while the rest is cultivated using existing conventional methods. Development plans for the conversion of the entire farm to an organic system within a certain period may be required by some certifiers.
Fines may be imposed for non-compliance with organic standards or violations of certification rules. This may include decertification or reverting to an earlier stage in progress towards full organic certification.
How to gain organic certification
This report, together with other relevant documents, is considered by the certifier to determine the appropriate level of organic certification. Acceptance of the contract and payment of fees enables the producer to market and label relevant product as certified. Organic certification contracts are generally subject to annual inspection of the site and a review of farm records.
Producers may be subject to random, unannounced on-site inspections as part of the obligations certification bodies must meet to meet Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) accreditation. Some properties may also be subject to inspection by AQIS representatives as part of the regulation of the certifying bodies. Input products for use in organic productionInput products for use in organic productionInput products for use in organic productionInput products for use in organic productionInput products for use in organic production
Caution should be exercised with products that may be contained in some commercial formulations of the above products. May only be used for a specific disease known to occur on the organic farm or neighboring farms that threatens livestock health and cannot be effectively controlled by other management practices.