In 2019, if you grew vetch hay, cut crops for hay instead of grain, or harvested straw as well as grain, you changed the balance of nutrients exported from your paddocks.

Many growers are seeing good yield prospects for their grain and canola crops and will be topdressing with nitrogen this season. While urea is the most widely used fertiliser for nitrogen topdressing, why not consider EASY N® liquid nitrogen this season? It’s an easy way to supply nitrogen to match crop demand through the boomspray.

When fertilisers are placed with the seed, the potential for seed damage and delayed or reduced emergence is always present. The safe rate of fertiliser depends on the interaction of fertiliser characteristics, crop type, soil moisture, soil type and application equipment. Take the time to calculate the Seed Bed Utilisation percentage (SBU%) and look up the safe rates tables before planting (links in the article).

Where cash flow is tight, many growers are likely to be looking to reduce costs at sowing time by reducing phosphorus (P) applications on some or all of their paddocks. The hope is that fertiliser phosphorus applied at the start of the 2018 season will still be available to the current crop.

Dual purpose crops will be important this year as a source of feed for stock and grain at harvest, but to get the best out of these crops they will need a good start with nutrition, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P).

Growing forage oats has generally been considered a low input system, relegated to the less productive parts of the farm, while better paddocks are sown to grain. However, this year, the need to rest pastures and provide fodder to hungry animals means the low input approach might not be appropriate.

Whether this year’s winter crop is coming off as fodder now or grain in the coming weeks and months, significant levels of nutrients will be removed from the paddock.

Canola can be very profitable for grain growers, but is also considered a riskier and more expensive crop to grow, with seed and fertiliser representing two of the major input costs.

As growers continue to replace wheat in their rotation with chickpeas to capitalise on higher market prices, there’s a growing need to update fertiliser programs – or face nutrient run down. Bede O’Mara, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers’ sub-tropical farming systems agronomist, says one of the major differences between growing wheat and chickpeas is that chickpeas remove significantly more potassium.

Incitec Pivot Fertilisers has conducted several nitrogen trials in grain crops in the Victorian Mallee since 2013.

It has long been noted that canola needs sulphur, but with 56 canola varieties available in 2017 and more on the way this year, the question is do they all need the same amount of sulphur?

Given what’s invested in growing crops these days, growers can ill-afford to risk reduced yields due to trace element deficiencies.

We all know the importance of soil testing and the valuable data it can provide for fertiliser and soil amendment recommendations.

With topdressing now under way in many cereal and canola crops, it is timely to revisit the nitrogen topdressing decision tools and fundamentals so that what is left of the season can be managed effectively.

Topdressing nitrogen can be difficult to get right with respect to timing and rate. Given that nitrogen is the biggest barrier to yield (except for moisture), it requires careful planning and management.

In reviewing the results from our nitrogen trial in a grain and graze system at Millvale in New South Wales, it is clear these crops need special treatment to perform to their best.

A series of nutrient trials conducted in high rainfall cropping zones in 2016 is showing high levels of nutrient removal with high yields. Lead researcher on the project, Dr Malcolm McCaskill, Soil Research Scientist with DEDJTR Victoria, shares a preview of the results with Agronomy Community members and asks: what will it take to restore soil fertility for 2017?