Improving fertility in NSW sandy soils
The GRDC Grains Research Update events provide agronomists, consultants, researchers and growers with a forum to showcase innovative thinking and the latest research outcomes relevant to modern farming systems.
Growers and advisors attending the GRDC Research Update in Wagga Wagga this month will be challenged to rethink their management of sandy soils and potentially reap significant crop yield benefits.
Barry Haskins from Ag Grow Agronomy and Research will be presenting at the Wagga Update, and he said while sandy soils have a range of underlying soil constraints that limit crop water use and productivity, recent research suggests several ways to offset these issues.
Mr Haskins will discuss results from a ongoing GRDC research investment that aims to improve access to cost effective techniques to diagnose and ameliorate the primary constraints to poor crop water-use on sandy soils in the low to medium rainfall zone of the south-eastern region of Australia.
“This research builds on previous work in this area, and whilst 2017 was our first year of this new project, the results suggest that it is possible to increase [crop] yields on sandy soils by up to 300%,” Mr Haskins said.
“Management practices such as application of chicken manure, strategic cultivation/spading/ripping, variety choice and seeding rate, application of adequate N and P and in some cases lime, all contributed to yield increases.
“This is significant as these deeper sands, where there is evidence of limited rooting depth and crop water extraction, have traditionally been poorer performing areas within the overall cropping program of most farms.”
Mr Haskins said an understanding of how different management strategies contribute to overcoming these various constraints is important in determining the best way to manage these soils.
“The project also aims to understand herbicide behaviour in sandy soils, and their interaction with plant growth,” he said.
“Glyphosate breaks down to a metabolite called AMPA, and growers and advisers have had some concerns about the possible effects of herbicide residues on crops grown in sandy soils.
Further detailed work is needed to understand the potential effects of herbicide residues in sandy soil systems that already offer challenges to plant growth and vigour.”
Mr Haskins will be speaking on day two of the two-day GRDC Research Update at Wagga Wagga, which is being held on February 13 and 14, at Joyes Hall at Charles Sturt University.
Other speakers include Nick Poole of FAR Australia on the status of cereal fungicide effectiveness, Susie Sprague from CSIRO on canola blackleg management and Graeme Sandral from NSW Department of Primary Industries on refining nitrogen placement and timing for cereals.