With last year’s crush, fertilising and spraying becoming a distant memory, planting will be soon upon us again. Under the current reef protection regulations, soil tests need to be taken within 12 months of a new crop cycle. The team at Pursehouse Rural are currently collecting soil samples and we are ready to collect samples from your paddocks prior to planting this year. Pursehouse Rural can also assist with a nutrient management plan which is also a requirement under the Reef Regulations Act. Pursehouse Rural Agronomists produced management plans for many of our customers last year, with feedback being that it does make things a whole lot easier for growers to not only record the nutrient applied per block, but also to the farm as a whole.
Soil samples coming back from the lab are showing the normal requirements for supplementation with Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Sulphur. However, the need for other nutrients like Calcium, Zinc and Copper is now becoming very common. Calcium found in lime has been spoken about for years and many growers have elected not to address this in the past. However, taking into account issues like soil acidification, high aluminium levels and the plants basic need for calcium, I would urge growers to start adding calcium into their fertiliser budgets.
With Zinc regularly showing up in soil tests as being deficient, last year many growers started applying a high loaded Zinc product directly on the billet at planting. This was a technique I also used successfully to stimulate root growth in cereals in my previous agronomy work. The addition of Zinc in cereals allowed the greater root mass to explore for moisture and nutrients. Not surprisingly, it has the same effect when applied to the cane billet. We have also been mixing Zinc with Imidacloprid (Confidor) and applying it when stool splitting in ratoons.
As growers will be very aware, unless there is a dramatic downturn in prices over the next few months this year fertiliser pricing will be higher than usual. The question needs to be asked – is this a year to start looking at what rates of fertiliser are being applied to different blocks on the farm? There are a couple of easy things to take into consideration that will help you decide on the amount of fertiliser to apply. One would be to consider average harvest yields per paddock, and the other is the age of ratoons.
Growers would be aware that under the reef regulation guidelines in Proserpine we are allowed to fertilise to the district average of 130T/Ha, with most growers fertilising to this average. Let’s say you had ratoons yielding either 60, 80 or 100T/Ha this year and you adjusted your fertiliser rate to suit. The potential saving per Ha would range from $300, $200 & $100 per ha respectively. That’s a big saving over a whole farm. Obviously, there are other things
to take into consideration before applying reduced fertiliser rates. At Pursehouse Rural, the team are available to discuss and help you through your decision process.
By Craig Henson
Branch Manager & Agronomist
Pursehouse Rural Proserpine
0456 213 944