New approach shows promise
Trials of a relatively new approach to fertilising dryland cereal crops during the growing season have entered their second year, following promising results in 2016.
Mid-row banding of nitrogen, N, in-season increased uptake of nitrogen fertiliser in wheat by more than 50 percent – when compared with other methods of in-season N application – in Victorian trials last year.
Agriculture Victoria’s regional research agronomist Ashley Wallace, who has undertaken the work as part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Bilateral Research Agreement, described the outcomes from the trials as encouraging.
“Trials of mid-row banding of N in-season have produced promising results, including increasing fertiliser uptake by an average of 46 percent and up to 52 percent in wheat when compared with other methods of in-season N application,” he said.
“The method also boosted grain yield by up to 0.5 tonnes-hectare.”
Results from mid-row banding trials in 2016 – an exceptional year in terms of rain and yields in many parts of the southern region including the Wimmera and Mallee where the trials occurred – are being validated this year, with further trials underway at Ultima, Horsham and Telangatuk. Mr Wallace said there had been a significant swing towards in-season management of N fertiliser in southern dryland cropping regions as growers looked to improve management amid variable seasonal conditions.
He said the crop’s demand for N was largely determined by its yield potential, which was strongly related to growing-season rain.
Last year’s trials at Longerenong and Quambatook aimed to compare mid-row banding with other forms of in-season N application, including top-dressed, liquid foliar and mid-row surface applications of N.
At each trial site, the first timing of application coincided with forecast rain in the days following, while the second timing of application coincided with dry weather forecast in the days following.
“Results from 2016 indicated that the benefit of mid-row banding to crop uptake of N was greater where rainfall was limited soon after application and the surface applied urea was not washed into the rooting zone, which suggests mid-row banding could be a more effective way of applying N under drier seasonal conditions,” Mr Wallace said.
A report of the 2016 trial results, co-authored by Mr Wallace, is available for viewing and downloading via the GRDC website at https://grdc. com.au/mid-row-n-fertiliser.
RESEARCH: Wallace. Agriculture Victoria regional research agronomist Ashley Picture: PIOTR TREBICKL