Cropping

Tests are best before fertiliser

Grain Central, November 9, 2017

GRAIN growers making the decision to double crop into a more promising summer season are being urged not to rush or “gamble by guessing” when devising their crop nutrition programs.

Bede O’Mara

Incitec Pivot Fertilisers’ agronomist, Bede O’Mara, said local fertiliser advisers were ready to assist growers with grain testing or soil testing to provide insights into the likely nutrient status of winter crop paddocks being harvested.

“Growers will certainly need to make some fast decisions during the quick turnaround to summer cropping, but there is still time to assess nutrient requirements with hard data,” he said.

He said grain testing was a quick and easy way to understand the impact of low yielding winter crops on soil fertility programs going forward.

“Grain testing is as simple as collecting 400 grams of harvested grain from the header, truck or silo and submitting it to the Nutrient Advantage laboratory for analysis,” he said.

“Combined with yield results, this will tell growers and their advisers which nutrients, and in what quantities, left the farm with the winter crop harvest.

“With recent soil test results on hand, advisers can develop a fertiliser program that will allow the coming summer crop every opportunity to reach its yield potential.”

Mr O’Mara said growers planning on double cropping could also use soil testing.

“Ask your local adviser to arrange soil testing early in the fallow, especially if the paddocks have not been soil tested in recent years,” he said.

“Concentrate on those nutrients that are mobile and change readily with soil water changes – nitrogen and sulphur in particular.

“This will show where nutrient levels in individual paddocks are sitting in relation to the critical values for the intended crop and whether any additional nutrition is required.”

Soil testing can also be used to locate subsoil constraints, such as salinity or chloride.

Mr O’Mara said there had been widespread problems with subsoil constraints in this year’s winter grain legumes due to the dry weather.

He encouraged growers to speak with their local fertiliser adviser about developing a fertiliser program based on sound data for their coming summer crops.

“There will be a range of challenges for growers including some tight windows of opportunity for fertiliser choices and application, so keep in regular contact with your adviser and make a plan to discuss the various nitrogen application options,” he said.

Source: Incitec Pivot

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