A new service in WA Deep Clay Ripping Pty Ltd (DCR) will be demonstrated at Techspo with owner Matt Waugh and Luke Sproull on hand to help farmers give it a go.
Deep Clay Ripping Pty Ltd is a start-up business that is re-purposing mining spec machinery to help farmers improve crop yield through soil amelioration that has a long term benefit. “We are not in the business of flogging machinery, but we want to join with farmers to come up with solutions to problems of non-wetting soils, saline soils, acid soils, frost affected regions etc. We are two young men with young families looking to make a difference, and shake up the industry as best we can” says owner Matt Waugh.
DCR are currently refurbishing an old Caterpillar Bulldozer (D9H size ~ 60tonnes), to re-purpose for use in the agricultural industry as a piece of machinery that can be hired with or without an operator. “We believe there are a lot of applications where such a machine would excel when compared to traditional farm tractors, and for us, we think the biggest impact we can make is through clay delving and incorporation to ameliorate non-wetting soils.”
“Subsurface compaction is a widespread constraint in WA cropping areas. Estimates suggest that 14 million of 18.8 million hectares of agricultural land have a moderate to high risk of subsoil compaction.” (DAGF, 2015) Farmers in Western Australia are now turning to deep ripping methods to not only help resolve the issues of soil compaction but finding strategies that improve productivity outcomes
With the increasing use of heavier machinery, subsoil compaction in WA has as a result moved deeper by up to 400-600mm down in to the soil profile. “Soils in WA have <35% clay and have little capacity to naturally swell and crack to remove compaction” (B. Isbister, 2016). Sandy soils need depth to compensate for low water holding capacity. Therefore “cropping soils with sandy textures at least 500mm deep, need deep ripping to 550mm or more to decompact hardpans” (DAFG, 2016) and allows plant root access to reach deeper into the soil to access vital moisture and nutrients.
Research done by the Department of Agriculture and Food have shown improved productivity by removing soil compaction by deep ripping to 550mm and topsoil slotting by removing soil compaction in sandy soils “In 2015 trials, The researchers found that new methods of removing compaction in sandy textured soils by deep ripping to 55cm and topsoil slotting could boost wheat yields by 1-1.7 tonnes per hectare and provide a return of $6-$16 for every $1 invested” (N, Lee, 2016).
To optimise the effectiveness of deep ripping to 50 to 60cm and implementing CTF, DAFWA recommends: Identifying the soil type and location of the hardpan; Addressing any associated shallow subsoil constraints to a depth of 30cm (non-wetting soil, soil acidity, sodicity). Consider deep ripping up to 400mm one season then up to 600mm next season with lime if needed. Analyse the best deep ripping method for your soil condition