There’s been a spike in legume cover crops in the Herbert Region with more than 25 percent of the fallow area now planted.
Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited- Manager (HCPSL) manager Lawrence Di Bella said the availability of a mounder legume planter for growers to try out on their own farms had contributed to the increase.
"We have gone from about one to three percent of the fallow area planted to more than 25 percent," he said.
"The planter has been a huge success and we now have a couple of hundred hectares planted across the district."
The planter, funded by Enhanced Extension Coordination in GBR project, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and with support by Terrain NRM and the Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL), has been available for growers to hire for a minimal fee since October.
The planter allows growers to rip, mound and plant the legume or mixed fallow cover crop in one pass.
Mr Di Bella said rotational crops, especially legumes, performed better when planted on a mound over the wet season when compared to planting the crop flat.
"The planter allowed legume crops to be grown in areas once considered to be too wet,’" he said.
Mr Di Bella said improved legume cropping leads to improved soil health, ground cover and reduced nitrogen application through budgeting of nitrogen contributions.
"This change in practice will allow some growers to reduce sediment and nutrient loads entering the Barrier Reef Lagoon and freshwater ecosystems.’"
To hire the mounder legume planter contact Richard Hobbs from HCPSL on 4776 1808 or 0400544301.
Growers pay a small fee of $10/acre to cover the cost of maintenance of the equipment.