Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.04.2003

RESOURCES And from the CSIRO, some nutritional advice

A NEW web-based guide on soil nutrients, Fertiliser after the Drought, can give cash-strapped farmers practical advice on how to cut drought recovery times.

"Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are generally at high levels after a drought," says CSIRO Plant Industry scientist John Angus. "High nutrient levels can be an advantage but farmers also need to be careful.

"To underestimate existing nitrogen levels can lead to growers sowing an inappropriate crop — a potentially critical mistake for farms recovering from drought."

Written in collaboration with agricultural consultants and the fertiliser industry, Fertiliser after the Drought is based on measurements made in experiments after the 1982 and 1994 droughts.

It presents easy-to-understand examples of how to calculate the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus available for post-drought crops. "For example, calculations of nitrogen need to include residual nitrogen from fertiliser applied in 2002, subsoil and topsoil nitrogen mineralisation — which can be accelerated after a drought — and nitrogen removed in 2002 crops," Dr Angus says.

The guide gives farmers easy-to-apply formulae for their own farms. Fertiliser after the Drought is available on the CSIRO web site at www.csiro.au/drought_fertiliser

Contact: Dr John Angus 02 6246 5095 email John.Angus@csiro.au Dr Terry Bolger 02 6246 5445; 0402 686 328 email Terry.Bolger@csiro.au