A decade of patience yields dividends for Jondaryan grower

Making the 350-kilometre move from Muckadilla to Jondaryan not only meant new neighbours and friends for the Loughnan family, it also meant contending with a new climate and soil types.

After 10 years of cropping at 800-hectare property ‘Jackson’, grower David Loughnan says he is finally getting the best of out the land.

“As varieties move away from general adaptability to more specific geographies for yield gains, especially in sorghum, we found we needed to pair the right crop to the right conditions to get the best results,” he said.

Mr Loughnan said with three different soil types РWaco, black clay and lighter soil – he made a point of never sowing his paddocks to just one variety of sorghum or cotton.

“Some crops can handle more marginal areas, and those that can’t shoot for that top end yield on the good country.

“Then you’ve got paddocks which lay fallow through winter, providing that extra moisture for the summer crop, and those that are cropped to wheat.”

David runs the cropping operation with wife Jane and daughter Amy.

They use a summer program of cotton and sorghum, and infrequently, a winter program of wheat.

He can have up to six sorghum varieties planted in summer depending on soil type, paddock history (fallow or heavy program), irrigation, and whether he is hosting crop trials.

“This year we averaged 9 tonnes per hectare on good fallowed country and 7.5t/ha on land with a sorghum-sorghum-sorghum history.

“The standouts were MR-Scorpio and MR-Taurus, both hitting 9.6t/ha. Scorpio is recommended for good country while the Taurus can tackle the average ground.

Eighty percent of the property was cropped, with 470ha of sorghum and 200ha of cotton seeded.

Mr Loughnan’s first big win came eight years into experimenting with varieties and different soil types.

He harvested a crop of MR-Scorpio in the 2014-15 season that reached a yield of 10.298 tonnes per hectare.

After entering it in the annual Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland (RASQ) crop competition, he took home the 2016 dryland sorghum prize.

Looking ahead to the 2016-17 season, the grower is remaining flexible on the direction of his program.

“We’ll have to see what the weather does before locking in a program.

“We like to sow as early as possible in early September, that way it’s off in January in the heat of the sun and can catch a few storms before winter.”

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