Work is underway to provide graingrowers in the southern cropping region with the confidence, knowledge and ability to make more effective and profitable nutrient management decisions.
A new GRDC investment is focused on increasing growers’ use of soil and plant testing data to better inform their fertiliser decision-making.
The three-year investment led by Agronomy Solutions in conjunction with Australian Precision Ag Laboratory, CSIRO, Landmark, Hart Field-Site Group and AgCommunicators, will develop an economic framework to quantify the likely returns from improved nutrient management techniques and the opportunity to boost farm profit while managing risk.
As a result of this using soil and plant testing data to better inform nutrient management and optimise fertiliser investments for grain growers in the southern region, by 2022, the GRDC aims to improve nutrient management best practice through the increased use of soil testing.
Leading the project on behalf of Agronomy Solutions is consultant and project coordinator Harm van Rees who is being supported by fellow research leader Sean Mason.
Dr Mason said the project would begin with an initial economic analysis of soil and plant testing approaches – including aspects such as frequency, phase of the rotation, sampling intensity, soil depths and sampling of controlled traffic paddocks.
“There will also be a series of consultative focus groups this year, which will investigate grower attitudes and motivations, barriers to adoption and key extension and communication messages,” Dr Mason said.
“We are looking for feedback from a whole spectrum of growers – from those who base their fertiliser decisions on regular soil testing, those who have previously used soil tests but don’t anymore, growers who rely on recommendations from their advisers, through to those who have never used soil tests but instead adhere to an entrenched fertiliser regime.
“We are keen to know why these growers do what they do when it comes to making decisions about their fertiliser programs, as their insights will help to inform our approach to influencing practice change.”
From here, an intensive, high-impact soil and plant testing demonstration program involving approximately 100 growers across the southern region will then be undertaken throughout 2019 and 2020.