GROWERS need to ensure there is plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus available to their crops early to make the most from dual-purpose cereals and canola this season, according to Incitec Pivot Fertilisers agronomist Jim Laycock.
Mr Laycock spoke on the subject at GRDC’s recent Grains Research Update in Coolah, NSW.
“Understandably, growers are keen to maximise early grazing opportunities as well as achieve high yields at the end of the year,” he said.
“To do this, they will need to get a good start with nutrition, particularly N and P.”
In setting paddocks up for success, Mr Laycock said there were three simple rules.
“The first one is to keep fallows clean to retain moisture from any summer rains, which will assist with better early establishment and growth,” he said.
“Next, make sure you take a soil test at least three to four weeks prior to planting to assess soil fertility, using a credible, quality assured laboratory.”
Last but not least, timing of sowing.
“To get to that first grazing quickly, it is important to sow when there is an opportunity,” he said.
“We know from our analysis in 2018, nearly half the paddocks tested from Central West NSW had less than ideal levels of soil P for successful grain and graze crops.
“Similarly, more than half of soil test results from Central West NSW showed less than adequate N.
“Early availability of P is crucial to all cereal and canola crops and there are no second chances to get it right.
“With N, a good early supply is the key to getting to that first grazing quickly and maximising dry matter production.”
He said where deep soil tests revealed less than 120kg/ha of N, growers should consider applying N early to achieve targeted growth rates and yield results.
This could be by broadcast and incorporation at planting, banding at planting below and to the side of the seed, or broadcast post-planting, ideally in front of 10mm of rain or more.
He advised against banding N pre-plant, as it was likely to reduce planting moisture.
“Ask your fertiliser adviser to help with soil testing and N budgeting to ensure fertiliser rates are adequate to achieve your targeted yields,” he said.
“Urea can also be topdressed after grazing and this timing can match well with crop demand for increased N use efficiency.”