Sydney Basin, NSW
John and Vicky Micallef started growing vegetables on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in 1987. Starting with 20 hectares the Micallef’s supplied vegetables to the Sydney markets. The intensive vegetable farm, now run by brothers Val and Sam Micallef, has grown to 30 hectares and focused on a range of winter crops as well as growing sweet corn over summer.
Val and Sam are looking for new ways to improve their soil while also reducing costs. Working with the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection team they are keen to trial the use of strip tillage in their production system.
The first test will be coming out of lettuce into sweet corn this summer. Instead of multiple passes and aggressive tillage with the rotary hoe they will see how strip tillage works for them. Not only will it reduce the number of passes and hence costs but also will allow more timely operations when the weather is less favorable. At the end of the corn crop Val and Sam will again try strip tillage to establish their brassica crops for winter. Further down the line the boys are interested to see how it might allow them to use more cover crops and possibly band compost in the crop row.
You can follow the progress of the potential benefits of strip tillage on the Sydney Basin Facebook page.