Aviator Xpro case study - Frank and Harry Collier, Manawatu

Frank and Harry Collier farm 250ha at Sanson, between Feilding and Bulls in the Manawatu, trading lambs, cattle and growing 40-50ha of cereals every year.

“It’s part of our regrassing programme so the land’s cropped about every sixth year,” explains Frank. The soil is Tokomaru silt loam with a clay base.

“It’s all tile drained and can get very wet in the winter hence why we don’t have cattle on at that time of year.”

Aviator Xpro case study - Frank and Harry Collier, Manawatu

Historically it also meant they restricted cropping to spring sowings, but for the past three seasons they’ve grown a paddock of winter wheat too. Normally it’s sown late April or early May, though this year it was early June due to wet weather earlier in the autumn. The remainder is spring sown, split between wheat and barley. If they can get on the ground they’ll sow wheat in September but barley is usually October-sown. The spring sown wheat usually does about 7.5t/ha but last year’s dry summer saw Sensas come in at about 7t/ha from late October sowing. Winter wheat Torch was much less affected by the dry.

It was our best crop ever at 9.3t/ha and it was a pretty dry summer so we were quite happy with that, though the grain was a bit pinched which suggests there wasn’t quite enough moisture to let it fill. “We harvested it in January too which shows how early a season it was.

Collier’s confident disease wasn’t behind the pinched grain as a switch to new SDHI fungicides kept the crop as clean as a whistle.

Septoria is the disease we’re really after now in the wheat. Two years ago it snuck in the back door and really cut the yield. That’s why we were keen to go with the new sprays.

Duncan Thomas of H & T Agronomics, Feilding, advises the Colliers on agronomy.

“We used Aviator Xpro on all their spring-planted and autumn-planted wheat at T1,” says Thomas. “

Previously I’d used Proline at T1 and then Proline + Acanto or Proline + Twist, but the resistance to triazoles and strobilurins that we saw throughout the Manawatu and Rangitikei the previous year prompted us to use SDHI chemistry over all the wheat crops we look after in the region, with stunning results.

Thomas says Septoria’s long latent infection period means it’s particularly important to get the sprays on well before the disease would be seen if untreated, he adds. “My policy has always been to be ahead of disease and take a pre-emptive strike where possible.” The Aviator was applied at full label rate, as was another new SDHI product used at T2. “I am a firm believer in full rates to minimise resistance risk and have discussed the implications of diverting from this policy with my growers. Our toolbox is now limited and we cannot afford to risk efficacy.”

Thomas says he was “very happy with both products, and will continue to use them across wheat this season. “We achieved stunning results across all our wheat crops last season and averaged in the range 8.5-10t on dryland.” Collier’s sprays were applied by contractor Layton Hammond who he says is “pretty sharp with his timing.” “That’s important to us to get the best out of our investment in this new chemistry,” he concludes.