GRDC Update set to drill down into CQ nitrogen strategies

Author: | Date: 09 Nov 2018

image of Chris Dowling
Back Paddock Company crop nutrition specialist Chris Dowling will present new N research into how, when, and if central Queensland cropping soils should be treated with fertiliser.

Keeping abreast of the latest nitrogen (N) research could be one of the most strategic business decisions central Queensland grain growers make this season.

Quantum leaps in nitrogen research are enabling scientists to better understand the merits of different N application strategies and maximising N uptake efficiency in Central Queensland soils, which paves the way for growers to implement more effective fertiliser programs.

Back Paddock Company crop nutrition specialist Chris Dowling said recent research had delivered valuable insights into how, when, and if central Queensland cropping soils should be treated with fertiliser.

Outcomes of the research and practical strategies for adoption will be the focus of a presentation by Dr Dowling at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Updates at Emerald on December 4 and Biloela on December 5.

“Soils with low organic carbon lose capacity to buffer nitrogen supply to the crop as they age,” Dr Dowling said.

“As a result, soils that previously did not respond economically to applied nitrogen now respond economically to regular application and uptake efficiency is increasingly dependent on N fertiliser management tactics. Getting these decisions right is worth a lot of money.

“Recent research findings have significant implications for the development of effective and profitable N strategies in central Queensland.

“For example, the research has shown that volatilisation losses across a range of situations are often quite small which has ramifications for the effectiveness of surface spreading of urea.”

Mr Dowling said other research had validated N’s tendency to move relatively slowly in heavy vertosol soils, affecting the N uptake efficiency of individual crops.

“While the crop uptake efficiency of N sourced from mineralisation and organic matter is mostly greater than 50 per cent, uptake from applied N fertiliser is often as low as 20 or 30 per cent,” Dr Dowling said.

“These findings have substantial implications for how and when N is applied within the farming system. Do we target nitrogen to individual crops or adopt a position that fertilises soil over time?”

The Updates will include a panel discussion with Dr Dowling, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) senior research agronomist Doug Sands and local growers Brian Gregg and Shane Eden (Emerald) and Lee Jones (Biloela) on N, phosphorus and potassium strategies for central Queensland.

Also on the agendas are presentations by Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) northern extension agronomist Paul McIntosh on chaff lining and tramlining problem weeds, and glyphosate resistant milk (sow) thistle; DAF senior regional research agronomist Darren Aisthorpe and Pacific Seeds’ Trevor Philp on sorghum agronomy for central Queensland; Kotzur Silos managing director Andrew Kotzur on designing flexible mid-size on-farm grain handling facilities; DAF senior development agronomist Phil Burrill on what’s new in grain storage; DAF senior entomologist Melina Miles on helicoverpa resistance as well as an overview of the new chickpea variety PBA Drummondimage of PBA .

The Emerald Update will feature an additional presentation by Darren Aisthorpe on gross margins and the dollar return per millimetre of water within central Queensland farming systems while the Biloela Update will include a detailed presentation on the biology, management and glyphosate resistance implications of sowthistle by Paul McIntosh.

The Emerald GRDC Update will be held at the McIndoe Function Centre on Tuesday December 4 while the Biloela GRDC Update will be held at the Anzac Memorial Club on Wednesday December 5.

Registration is 8:30am and the program will conclude at approximately 3:15pm. Morning tea, lunch and proceedings are included, and the cost is $30 per person and $20 for additional attendees from the business.

For further information or to register, contact John Cameron or Erica McKay at ICAN on 02 9482 4930, email or register on line at

Contact Details

For Interviews

Dr Chris Dowling, Back Paddock Co


Toni Somes, GRDC
0436 622 645

GRDC Project code: ICN00021