GRAIN growers Tim and Julia Hausler – Growing Genetically Modified Canola – Part 1

GRAIN growers Tim and Julia Hausler have a simple reason for growing genetically modified canola – it saves them money. “If the benefits were not there or if it was costing us money we would not be doing it,” Tim said. Part 1

This season the couple has sown 60ha of conventional canola and 200ha of Roundup Ready canola on their 2500ha property near Warracknabeal. The Hauslers have been growing canola since the 1980s and constantly review the costs and benefits.

“So far the short-term benefits of growing Roundup Ready canola have outweighed the additional cost of buying the seed, the discount when selling the grain, the technology fee, and even any extra freight costs to get the grain to the nearest delivery point,” Julia said.

Tim and Julia show a profound ignorance of the real and actual long term costs of growing GM canola on their farm.
The crop rotation starts with a chemical fallow to maximise soil-moisture storage for the canola crop the following year.

Obviously Tim and Julia think that weeds compete against the crop and rob it of moisture. Do they understand where and how a soil’s ability to increase its moisture holding capacity is? This helps clean the paddock of weeds, especially annual ryegrass, before sowing a cereal, a legume, another cereal and then back to fallow.
Weeds are part of a cycle which indicates a bacterially dominated soil and are an indicator of what is missing in Tim and Julia’s soil.
Julie said it also helped to control weeds in the cereal crop.

“Fewer sprays are required to control weeds, which is a cost saving but also minimises the risk of herbicide resistance,” she said.
A farmer who has managed to establish a healthy biologically active soil does not ever need to use a weedicides. This is a major cost saving factor!
“And because the paddock has a clean start, soil moisture is as high as it can be and the cereal germinates and grows with minimal weed competition.”

This belief that ‘soil moisture is as high as it can be’ reveals a total lack of understanding of how the soil functions but sadly is a typical view point shared by conventional farmers who still use chemicals to ‘improve’ their yields.
Tim said in the past they had sown GT 61 canola from Nuseed which had yielded as well as conventional canola under recent dry conditions. “This season we thought we would try one of Nuseed’s Next Generation releases called GT scorpion.”

This early to mid-season variety is high yielding, high in oil content and suits lower-rainfall regions.”Growing conditions are favourable and we are hoping for 1.5 tonnes to 2 tonnes/ha crop,” Tim said.
Tim said they had found yields to be similar to conventional canola and often 20-30 per cent better than triazine-tolerant varieties. “And you are not restricted with what you can plant the next year, as with Clearfield canola,” he said.

Ref: Weekly Times 8th Sept, 2010