You may have heard the term “RALF” floating around a bit on our socials, so what are RALFs? Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitators (RALFs) support farmers, industry, and community groups to adopt new and innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
They are funded under the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. At NACC NRM, we have two RALFs, Annabelle and Shannah, and it has been a super busy month for them! They have been travelling around the Northern Ag Region, supporting, and attending many different events. We hope you saw us at one of them!
We were so excited to be able to connect with producers, grower groups and industry members, while also learning so much from the amazing presenters at all the events. Some of them included Living Farm, CBH Group, Intergrain, Summit Fertilisers, CSBP, Rabobank, AGT, Longreach Plant Breeders, Nufarm, GRDC, Pacific seeds, Chickpea Breeding Australia, and Northern Agri Group.
We were lucky enough to be able to support multiple events this past month including Weelhamby Farm Field Walk, West Midlands Group Student Crop Walk, West Midlands Group Spring Field Day, and Mingenew Irwin Group Spring Field Day.
We were also very fortunate to be able to attend some other events in our regions. Some events that we attended included: Liebe Group Spring Field Day, Mingenew Irwin Group Sandplain Field Day, Morawa Farm Improvement Group Spring Field Day, Yuna Farm Improvement Group Spring Field Day, and AgZero 2030 Climate Solutions & Navigating to Net Zero Transition for WA Ag.
Some of our favourite topics this year included Safflower production, chickpea breeding and NVT trials.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a minor crop in Australia mainly grown for its oil properties. Safflower can be grown in later winter to spring to replace failed winter crops and increases the options for the pre-sowing control of problem winter weeds. Safflower is heat and drought-resistant and is adaptable to arid and semi-arid climates. As Safflower is a long-season crop and has a deep taproot, it can use surplus water that is deep in the soil profile.
There are two types of safflowers, which produce two different types of oil, one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Due to the lack of suitable cultivars, safflower has been a minor crop in Australia. Still, recent research has focused on a new end use for safflower in industrial applications such as biodegradable plastics.
Chickpeas are the second biggest pulse crop in Western Australia in terms of planting area and production. Chickpeas are annual leguminous crops, used for both animal and human consumption. They prefer deep, well-drained, loam-clay soils, and prefer to grow in 350mm + rainfall areas. Chickpeas are generally a break crop that can be used in rotations to effectively break the lifecycle of cereal root diseases.
So why grow chickpeas? Chickpeas have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen (N₂) resulting in more soil N for following cereal crops. The amount of nitrogen fixed is determined by how well the chickpeas grow and the level of nitrate in the soil at planting, though they can fix up to 70 kgN/ ha. They also have an extensive and deep root system, and there is an option for deep sowing in stored soil moisture. They can also be sown relatively late compared to wheat, which makes them easy to fit into your cropping production.
For more information on safflower and chickpeas, check out the links below.