Maximising crop yield rather than focusing on protein levels should be the first goal for northern region grain growers when planning their fertiliser strategy, according to Bede O’Mara, Technical Agronomist at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers.
Mr O’Mara says the market premiums on offer for protein are difficult to predict pre-season so it is better to react to those later in the year.
“Profitable production is driven not only by yield but is also influenced by quality targets and the cost to achieve them.”
“Growers and advisors need to consider the economic cost, returns on offer, and the risks of targeting higher protein grades,” he said.
Mr O’Mara delivered the research findings to growers at the Grain Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Updates earlier this year, following on from GRDC trials in 2013 which measured N responses across a range of wheat varieties.
In 2013 variety choice played a significant role in final grain yield and grain protein concentration which influenced the capacity to achieve APH.
When choosing varieties, it is recommended growers consider long-term yield and protein results for their local region, disease resistance/tolerance packages, and target grades.
“Don’t forget about your pests and diseases – make sure you understand your nematode levels pre-plant and also your crown rot levels which have a large bearing on your success and uptake ability with nitrogen.”
Mr O’Mara said planning ahead was the key to maximising crop response from a fertiliser investment.
“Analysis of your in-crop rainfall is essential when devising an application strategy for your nitrogen program,” Mr O’Mara said.
“All of those in-crop and pre-plant nitrogen decisions need to be based on fallow length, measured soil moisture and background nitrogen levels well before the season begins.”
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Bede O’Mara, Technical Agronomist at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers
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