Growers set to profit from nutrition knowledge

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 13 Feb 2014

Mike Bell at Goondiwindi

Northern region growers are being offered a valuable insight into the critical relationship between soil nutrient balance and crop profitability during a series of More Profit from Crop Nutrition (MPCN II) workshops and field walks.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) researcher and project leader, Dr Kaara Klepper said the workshops provided growers with an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of soil and crop nutrition, and discuss individual issues related to crop production, soil testing, nutrient budgeting, crop yield and grain protein targets.

“As well as soil testing and interpreting critical soil nutrient values, farmers can discuss N budgeting, Nitrogen Use Efficiency and mineralisation, P and K stratification, soil nutrient pools and the role of trace elements,” Dr Klepper said.

The workshops and field walks are being conducted as part of the MPCN II northern region nutrition training and extension project which is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and DAFF.

The project combines informational workshops with on-farm research based field walks to help producers understand soil and crop nutrient dynamics and how best to implement a nutrient management strategy to suit their farming system.

The most recent MPCN II field walk and workshops were held near Goondiwindi, in Dalby and Condamine last week with further workshops to be held at Goondiwindi on February 20, Mungindi on February 21, Gunnedah on February 25 and Dubbo on March 6.

“Around 35 growers attended one of the program’s recent field walks at Paul and Alana McNulty’s property Wondalli, east of Goondiwindi, where two nutrition research trials are being conducted,” Dr Klepper said.

“The trials consisted of sorghum N response and applied deep P (up to 60kg P/ha at 20cm depth) with and without starter fertiliser and are in their first year. Treatments were applied in May 2013 and the G22 crop was sown on a double skip configuration into a paddock long fallowed from wheat, on December 10, 2013 at a rate of 50,000 plants per hectare.

“Field walk presenters Dr Mike Bell, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAFFI) and Dr David Lester, DAFF, advised growers the sorghum crop was showing both an incremental response to P as well as a starter response, and that growers could access yield results through their local agronomist following the April harvest.”

Presenter at the Dalby and Condamine workshops Dr Chris Dowling, Back Paddock Company, challenged growers on whether they soil tested to identify a problem, as part of routine checks or to calculate optimum fertiliser rates.

“Interestingly, an issue raised at the Dalby workshop was how sorghum responds to applied deep P.  The field site at Wondalli is just one of many MPCN research sites across the northern region being used to address this data shortage. Dalby growers were also particularly interested in exploring the reason why they achieve sorghum yields higher than what they target with N,” Dr Klepper said.

“The Condamine workshop covered similar topics to the Dalby workshop but included a focus on the use of feedlot manure management, its role in crop nutrition and as a soil amendment. It also covered how to place manure at depth in the soil profile and whether surface spread manure reduces the need for starter fertiliser.

“Many growers who attended Condamine commented that they would be interested in using tissue testing as a means to gauge crop nutrient sufficiency and, where relevant, calculating N use efficiency.  Other issues growers identified were the loss of N following the floods and the role of legumes in rotation as green manure crops.”


Caption: Dr Mike Bell, who heads up the Soils and Farming Systems research team at UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) addresses growers at last week’s More Profit from Crop Nutrition II field walk at Wondalli, Goondiwindi. Photo supplied by DAFF.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Kaara Klepper,
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
07 4639 8870


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152859

GRDC Project Code DAQ00183, UQ00063

Region North