Keeping up with the Joneses

The Jones’ grow peanuts, wheat, sorghum and maize on their property, which is nestled amongst the hills surrounding the small township of Wooroolin in the South Burnett.

Brothers Warren and Brian Jones believe in the importance of maintaining soil condition. They currently practice controlled traffic farming to minimise soil compaction and minimal till to maintain soil structure. They also soil test frequently to determine soil fertility and requirements for nutrients and use this information to plan strategic crop rotations that reduce the need for chemical inputs and maximise the health of the soil.

Brian Jones with the planter he modified.

In August 2011, Warren and Brian attended a Precision Agriculture and Soil Management workshop held in Wooroolin under Burnett Mary Regional Groups’ Better Catchments Program where they recognised an opportunity to further improve management practices on their farm.  With the assistance of a small Better Catchments grant incentive, Warren and Brian were able to modify their existing planter to allow them to practice zero till cultivation, which has many advantages for the soil.  A greater amount of stubble is able to be kept on the soil surface which reduces soil erosion – particularly important on a hilly property such as the Jones’.  Practicing zero till also improves soil structure and increases organic matter in the soil.

An increased number of springs has enabled sufficient penetration for planting in stubble.

Although the machinery modifications were more complicated than first expected the Jones Brothers rose to the challenge and after increasing the number of springs and redistributing some weights the planter is now able to achieve sufficient penetration to plant into stubble, even on sloping land.

An increasing number of land managers are attempting to “keep up with the Joneses” by adopting improved management practices. Land managers adopting improved soil management practices will further the sustainability of their cropping enterprises and lead to the conservation and improvement of soil condition throughout large areas of the Burnett Mary region.

The Better Catchments Cropping Grants project is being coordinated by the Burnett Mary Regional Group for NRM though funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative.