Healthy Soil Healthy People

Dry Survivor Update, Balranald, NSW

6 February 2015

"Our GRDC Water Use Efficiency in Wheat is consistently around 12kg/ha/mm.
District mean ave. is 9.9kg/ha/mm."
                                     Tim and Marianne O'Halloran, 'Tylden', Balranald, NSW



12 Years LawrieCo Seeding Program has delivered significant soil structure improvement.

Mark O'Halloran discovers a penetrometer now goes deep into the soil with ease.

Compaction is reduced. Water infiltration and holding capacity is increased.

Recent Updates:

2014 Update  
Wheat Yield Average 1.25 tonnes per hectare
Rainfall April - October 138mm
NutriMAX fertiliser including BioMAX Soluble Humates at 35kg/ha
SureCROP VAM at 12L/t of seed
2013 Update
Wheat Yield Average 1.1 tonnes per hectare
Rainfall April - October 93mm
2007 - September aerial photo
Wheat Yield Average 1.2 tonnes per hectare
Rainfall April - October 100mm




Aerial View and Ground View with Adrian Lawrie (L) and Tim O'Halloran.

Root Branching with evidence of Soil Stickiness Indicating Exudates (Plant Carbohydrates feeding Soil Microbes)

Harvesting 1.2T/ha with less than 100mm of Rain from April-Oct.

The aerial photograph of Tim and Marianne O’Hallorans property at Balranald tells it all. It’s a picture that paints a thousand words about their foresight and success in building up the BioLogic capacity of their property using inputs of humic and microbe innoculum.

By October this year Tim was surrounded by parched and dry land. Serious failure was the grim reality for many crops in the Balranald region. There had been precious little rain since May and none to speak of in August, September and October. A total of 111.2mm of rain fell at the Balranald Weather Station, start of April to end of October. Tim monitors 4 rain gauges on his property, and the highest recorded 92.0 mm for the same period.

Fallow rain in the lead up to seeding had been very patchy with a standout January downpour followed by a searing 34.6C average temperature day after day for February. Needless to say February offered nothing much at all (by way of rain) to settle the dust either.

Admittedly there was not much rain in Balranald to work with but hopes were high across the country that the season would be good.  Tim planted on Late April Rain with the LawrieCo Seeding Program. Tim has been a long term advocate for low seeding rates. This year he chose Yitpi (a hard wheat) and sowed at 23kg /ha, knowing how important that has been for him in the past in his low rainfall area.

Unfortunately the drought had never truly left and returned to take its devastating toll.

Most in the region sent their stock onto wilting crops by late August, when they knew they’d salvage a few weeks of feed before the crop was dead.

Tim went on to harvest in October with an average across the property of 1200kg per Hectare. Ave Protein 11.8, average screenings 1.82% and average hectolitre weight of 81.5.

2008 - Harvesting 0.5T/ha with less than 100mm of Rain from April-Oct.

Tim and Marianne O’Halloran are still reaping the rewards of building soil organic carbon and active soil biology through implementing BioLogic Farming Systems (since 2001).

After seven years of improvements on their property near Balranald, the soil at ‘Tylden’ is more efficient in many ways, most importantly in moisture holding and nutrient cycling. These benefits are most apparent in difficult seasonal conditions, which have outnumbered the good in the past seven years.

Tim comments “we are doing whatever it takes in order to grow grain more cheaply and maintain or improve our soil condition. We look at the biological system as a means to do this and it is working. It is important to keep perspective and look at production relative to rainfall, instead of thinking the grass is greener.”

Unfortunately the 2008 season’s rainfall has not been any kinder to the Balranald region, however the O’Hallorans crop results are just as impressive. Total rainfall to the end of October was 126.5mm and from April till the end of October 97.75mm. The district average crop yield ranged from 0-0.2T/Ha.

Following 2007 results, it is not surprising that the average yield at ‘Tylden’ is 0.5T/Ha in 2008. In context of seasonal conditions and the district average it is a significant achievement. In 2007 the Balranald district recorded 245mm of rain January to October, whereas the same period in 2008 was 126.5mm. In January 2007 there was a very useful 114mm fallow rain event; in January 2008 there was no such luck.

The quality of the grain produced highlights the benefits of optimising soil conditions; protein at 12.5%, screenings less than 1% (with no cleaning required) and grading Hard 1 to Hard 2 (H1-H2). The grain quality can be attributed to the O’Hallorans balanced approach to nutrition (not overloading the crop in the early stages), biological cycling of nutrients during the season and the extra water storage capacity which are all features of BioLogic Farming Systems.