Victoria farmer Dan Parker is improving his soils using a combination of crop rotations, green manures and a Brevi Doble 320 rotary hoe.
Dan and his wife Tamara farm at Yeo, near Lake Colac. They own and lease 200 ha, and their main crop is 73 ha of potatoes, which they rotate with rye grass hay and green manure crops of oats and brassicas.
They got the Brevi 10 years ago and use it to incorporate green manure crops to build up their soil’s carbon content. The carbon improves the soil’s ability to hold water, nutrients and air.
The Doble 320 has a working width of 4m. It was their first Brevi, and they chose it because of its low horsepower demand.
Dan added six deep rippers to the front of his Doble to create a one-pass machine.
“The rippers do the primary cultivation, and the rotary hoe prepares the seedbed. We can run it on 140 hp, whereas every other brand needed at least 200 hp,” Dan says.
When a grass paddock goes into potatoes, he sprays it out. Then, just prior to planting, he does a pass with his ripper-rotary hoe combination and the paddock is ready to plant.
With the Parkers’ own work and a bit of contracting for neighbours, the Doble 320 covers 400 ha/year. All up, it has now done about 4000 drama-free hectares.
“I gave it new bearings and a gearbox at the start of this season, but it was just maintenance. Nothing had actually collapsed.”
The Parker’s lease block has heavy volcanic soil with some rocks. If the odd rock damages a blade, it takes just five minutes to replace the sheer bolts protecting the PTO shafts.
The Brevi works at depths of 100-200 mm, and this can be controlled from the cab on the go.
Dan runs it at 2.4 kph with a PTO speed of 1000 rpm. At that rate it can cover 1 ha/hour on average.
His effort to increase organic matter and improve soil structure is bearing dividends.
“We are starting to see huge results with potato plants. We are not losing soil structure, so in hot periods the roots can go down deeper.”
Dan is looking at up-grading his 10-year-old machine. “I will definitely get another Brevi,” he says.
Brevi rotary hoes are supplied by Silvan and its dealers throughout Australia.