Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 089 November-December 2010 - North
November – December 2010 GrouND cover Crop nutrition 25 On the data trail of better fertiliser decisions By Catherine Norwood n Soil scientists have turned sleuths as they attempt to track down the results of more than 4000 soil test and crop-response field trials conducted across Australia during the past 50 years for a new GRDC project. These trials assess the effects of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur on cereal, pulse and oilseed yields and will be collated into a searchable, online database. Fertilisers account for more than 20 per cent of total variable costs associated with crop production. Dr Simon Speirs, of Industry and Investment NSW, says providing the most accurate nutrient information will help everyone to better manage their fertiliser applications and maximise yield potential. It should also identify knowledge gaps and areas for further research. By collating as many results as possible, the project aims to improve the information behind crop nutrient recommendations. This includes the potential to compare the results of more recent fertiliser trials with results from older trials dating back to the 1960s. Dr Speirs is leading the project to collate the trial results and says more than 1200 trials have already been entered into the database. He expects to finish with 4000 trials in the database. The fertiliser industry, all state government agricultural agencies, CSIRO, universities and a number of agricultural consultancies are contributing to the project. The key criteria for inclusion in the project is that trials must include soil test information for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or sulfur, along with fertiliser application rates and crop yield data. “We know many of the trials will involve wheat, but we hope to have data for as many of the cereal, pulse and oilseed crops covered by the GRDC as possible,” Dr Speirs says. “Our aim is to be able to identify the critical soil test ranges of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur that crops require to achieve potential yield.” Given the number of different methods used for soil testing, the collation of as many results as possible is expected to provide more accurate assessment of the critical measurement ranges for widely used test methods. The project aims to provide regionally based recommendations, and to provide recommendations for different soil types where possible. Dr Speirs says the data collection is already proving to be a challenge, with the changeover from paper-based to digital information systems contributing to the loss of some information. “Many people have moved on or retired, and even where there has been good record- keeping, we are finding that we don’t necessarily have all the data we would like.” Dr Speirs is keen to hear from anyone who may have data to contribute. □ GRDC Research Code DAN00132 More information: Dr Simon Speirs, 02 6938 1999, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/ info/bfdc; www.grdc.com.au/DAN00132 Industry and Investment NSW soil scientists Dr Mark Conyers (left) and Dr Simon Speirs are tracking down the results of as many fertiliser crop-response trials as possible to improve fertiliser recommendations for growers. By CollAtiNG AS MANy ReSultS AS poSSiBle, the pRojeCt AiMS to iMpRove the iNfoRMAtioN BehiND CRop NutRieNt ReCoMMeNDAtioNS. You gotta get a Gason Australian made and proud of it!
Ground Cover 090 January-February 2011 - North
Ground Cover 088 September-October 2010 - North