Burnett growers set to rethink soil nutrition

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 13 Aug 2015

Image of growers and advisors attending the recent cane, grain and soil workshop in Bundaberg

New approaches to soil and crop nutrition are on the cards for many growers in the Burnett region of Queensland following a recent workshop in Bundaberg.

The cane, grain and soil workshop supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), put growers’ soil nutrition testing and fertiliser management practices under the microscope and offered a practical framework for boosting crop productivity across the farming system.

Workshop organiser, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) researcher Dr Kaara Klepper said the workshop equipped growers with simple management strategies to maximise crops’ nutrient recovery while minimising losses in low CEC soils.

“The workshop was a resounding success primarily because we looked at nutrition across the farming system, including in cane, and fertiliser application strategies growers can adopt to maximise nutrient recovery by all crops while minimising costly losses,” Dr Klepper said.   

“There are many attributes unique to the area, however what stood out for me was how the method and timing of nutrient applications can very quickly shift the cation balance and impact on fertiliser recovery by crops in a rotation.”

The workshop attracted more than 50 growers and industry representatives and included presentations and farm visits covering a variety of topics including nitrogen (N) removals, residuals and contributions; remote sensing to map N uptake; potassium budgets, sources and application strategies; managing cations in low CEC soil; trace elements and nutrient management across crops.

Presenters included University of Queensland and Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Professor Mike Bell, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) senior agronomist and project leader of the GRDC funded Coastal Solutions Group, Neil Halpin and Chris Dowling from Back Paddock Company.

Workshop co-organiser Neil Halpin said the afternoon farm visits allowed growers to discuss what they had learnt in the morning session and assess the implications for their own farming operations.

“The farm visits showcased different fertiliser strategies, giving growers a first-hand insight into the use of dundar, compost additives and granular versus foliar fertilisers,” he said.

Dr Klepper said the majority of growers who attended the workshop indicated that they would undertake more regular soil testing to assess and adjust nutrient levels, give greater consideration to the soil retention of nutrients through and between crop cycles and rotations, and review their long term fertiliser program according to soil type, nutritional needs and yield projections.

“That’s a great result which promises to deliver improved profitability to growers right across the farming system through improved crop production and a more effective and targeted fertiliser program that keeps costly losses to a minimum,” Dr Klepper said.

Contact Details 

For Interviews

Elise McKinna, DAF Media & Communication Officer
07 3087 8576


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152859

GRDC Project Code DAQ00183

Region North