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Syngenta herbicides for beef and spuds with the lot

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Switching to a tried and proven herbicide in order to trim spiralling costs has delivered significant benefits to the Bendotti family’s integrated potato and beef enterprise in south-west Western Australia. Jack and Mick Bendotti, together with their sons, Mark, Gary and Danny, and grandson, Jack Jnr, grow 100 hectares of potatoes and run 450 Hereford cows at “Euroa”, near Pemberton.

The cattle graze ryegrass and clover pastures, which are grown for four years after every potato crop. Vealers are turned off in December.

Mark Bendotti said whereas the family had typically used glyphosate to knockdown the pastures before the potatoes were planted, they decided to reassess their options following last year’s price hike.

“The price of glyphosate increased by about $100 a drum so we looked at other ways of getting rid of the pasture,” he said.

“We chose Spray.Seed for its fast action, broad spectrum control and competitive price.”

One of the first non-selective knockdown herbicides to become available in Australia, Spray.Seed played an instrumental role in the adoption of minimum tillage systems over the past 30 years.

As a Group L herbicide, it is now enjoying a major resurgence in popularity as farmers respond to the growing threat of glyphosate resistance and the escalating price of glyphosate.

The Bendottis applied the herbicide at 3L/ha in a tank-mix with 50mL/ha of Hammer to give added efficacy on clover.

“You could see the pasture wilting in 12 hours and in 24 hours it was looking pretty dead,” Mark said. “Spray.Seed did the job and it also gave us a few extra benefits.

“We could start discing the ground in preparation for potato planting within a day or two of applying Spray.Seed, whereas with glyphosate we had to wait for up to 10–14 days.

“It also enabled us to graze the cattle longer and get more production out of the pastures. With glyphosate you have to stop grazing at least 10 days before you spray, but with Spray.Seed you can leave the cattle in there until only a day or so before spraying.”

Spray.Seed is a non-selective herbicide that provides rapid knockdown control of grass and broadleaf weeds. Its contact activity eliminates weed competition almost instantly, maximising moisture retention and yield potential.

The Bendottis grow mainly FL, Atlantic and Nadine potatoes, planting from late August to early December and harvesting between December and June.

The vast majority of their production is consigned to Bendotti Exporters, a processing plant in Manjimup that produce gourmet potatoes, chips and wedges which are marketed under their own brand, WA Chip, as well as supplying other domestic and export customers.

The plant is owned by their family company, D. Bendotti and Sons, in partnership with that of their cousins, G. and B. Bendotti.

The Bendottis treat their seed with Maxim before planting, to protect against Rhizoctonia and Silver Scurf, and apply Amistar 250 SC as a foliar treatment to protect against Target Spot and Late Blight.

“If you don’t keep on top of Target Spot you’ll have big problems and it can even wipe your crop out,” Mark said.

“We broadcast a fertiliser blend, then go in at the hill-up stage with our 15 metre boomspray and apply a tank mix of Amistar, several liquid fertilisers and either Chess or Nitofol for aphids.

“This is the critical stage in crop growth because it is the last time we can get in with the boomspray before the rows close over.

“Four weeks later we put on an aerial application of Score to give us continued protection against Target Spot. At the same time, we monitor the crop constantly for the black dots on the leaves that are the early signs of Target Spot.

“It’s a great combination – we haven’t had a problem with Target Spot in the five or six years since we started using Amistar. We also use Spray.Seed to control weeds at crop emergence and after we’ve desiccated the crop with Reglone.”

Mark uses Syngenta’s Agri-CAST system to decide when to spray and irrigate.

“I use it every couple of days,” he said. “It’s very accurate, particularly with wind forecasts, so I can find out the best times to spray.

“It’s too windy to spray this morning but with Agri-CAST I’ll know if the wind will die down later in the day and I can prepare for spraying in the afternoon.

“Our ag pilot often rings me up to find out which way the wind will be blowing because we’ve got vineyards and orchards as neighbours.”

Agri-CAST provides accurate five-day forecasts of local weather and spraying conditions based on data collected from 600 weather stations located throughout Australia.

Updated every six hours, data includes temperature, rainfall and storm events, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed.

Agri-CAST is available exclusively to growers and resellers involved in the Syngenta Potato Partners initiative.

Under the program, producers who commit to using the company’s products receive access to unique application technology, training and practical tools to help them get the most out of their crop protection program.  

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