GROWERS who can slow down the rate of nitrification and limit nitrogen loss from their soils could apply less nitrogen fertiliser.
Seen here at the University ofWA, researcher Nui Milton says that keeping the soil organic level up produces positively charged humic compounds, which lock up the negatively charged nitrate.
She also suggests, where possible, using summer crops to use up the nitrates year-round. There's also a chemical solution to the problem, Dr Milton says. Chemicals such as nitrapyrin inhibit the activity of bacteria in the soil and slow down the nitrification process. These could be used as a stop-gap during the build-up of organic matter.
Her work has particular relevance to WA where producers routinely apply 25 per cent more nitrogen fertiliser than those in eastern states.
Contact: Dr Nui Milton 08 9380 2504