You are here

Chicken Manure Produces 4 tonne per Ha Barley in Gabbin

A four tonne per Hectare Barley crop would make any farmer smile, but what if you live in Gabbin and the only nutrient you’ve applied is composted Chicken Manure?

That is what happened to Gabbin Farmer Rob Grylls this season when he ran a plot trial to test a new source of composted chicken manure.

Rob established several plots that he applied with three different treatments. To the first he applied conventional fertiliser plus nitrogen, to the second he applied 60% conventional fertiliser, 40% chicken manure down the tube plus his own compost tea and nitrogen and to the third he broadcast only composted chicken manure at 500kg per hectare.

Wheatbelt NRM was there to film Rob harvesting the plots. The conventional only plots yielded 1.5-2.5 tonne per hectare, the mixed organic and conventional plot yielded 2-3 tonne/ha and the chicken manure only, yielded 3-4 tonne p/ha.

Rob is however quick to qualify that there are different soil types across the plots so warns that people should not take the results simply at face value but he does make it clear that he is nevertheless pretty pleased with how the composted manure has performed.

“I was amazed by the response to the compost on the clay soil, but it makes sense because the compost helped store moisture which is clays most limiting factor”

Rob said that the treatments applied were all of similar cost, pointing out that 50kg of fertiliser was a good deal cheaper to freight than half a tonne of chicken manure but he feels the potassium, trace elements and rich organic matter in the compost would cover the extra freight.

To reduce freight costs, this harvest Rob is back-loading the compost after delivering wheat to CF farms where the compost is made. “We’re dropping 60 ton loads of it in the paddock where it will be spread on wheat stubbles before sowing barley next year.” “Hopefully the microbes in the compost will convert more of the stubble into soil carbon and make more moisture and nutrients available to the crop”, said Rob.

Supported by Smart Farms, Wheatbelt NRM is developing a series of case studies and extension tools around the trial that Rob has designed and funded himself.  Soil and grain testing undertaken by Wheatbelt NRM will help to analyse what is going on within the soil and the plants themselves under the different treatments.

This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Subscribe to our e-newsletter and keep up to date on current events, partnership opportunities and NRM in the Wheatbelt.