With lost agricultural production from under-liming estimated at $500 million annually in Western Australia alone, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) wants to double lime use in the western and southern grains regions by 2017.
The GRDC has called for tenders for a five-year soil acidity project in the two regions.
GRDC western regional panel chairman Peter Roberts said applying lime was the easiest way to ameliorate soil acidity, which was a major constraint to crop productivity and critical to the maintenance and improvement of soil health.
“However, WA surveys in 2012 by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), Liebe Group and Farmanco indicate that current lime application falls well below that needed to maintain soil pH levels at the critical minimum levels of 5.5 in the soil surface (0-10cm) or 4.8 in the sub-surface (10-30cm),” he said.
“A similar situation exists in southern Australia where lime use over the last decade is only about 50 per cent of what is needed to prevent soils from becoming more acidic.”
Mr Roberts said the soil acidity investment, outlined in the GRDC 2013-14 Investment Plan, aimed to increase grower and adviser confidence in diagnosing acidity limitations to crop growth, as well as increasing lime use.
“The project will lead to a number of initiatives including the formation of an industry working group and tools for estimating lime requirements and profitable application,” he said.
October 30, 2012, is the closing date for tenders for the ‘Soil acidity is limiting grain yield’ project and other investment priorities outlined in the Investment Plan, which is available at www.grdc.com.au/Investment-Plan
Mr Roberts said all projects in the plan required results to be extended to growers and other stakeholders.
“Although a research project may be nationally targeted, delivery of the results will occur regionally and locally to growers at ground level,” he said.
PHOTO CAPTION: Peter Roberts
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Peter Roberts, GRDC western regional panel chairman
0428 389 060
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034; 0427 189 827
West, South, National, North