A Broader Approach
Should we as an industry be looking at a broader approach to nitrogen use efficiency?
A few weeks ago we attended a field day to view a research project of different nitrogen fertiliser inhibitors of which Black Urea is one of them. There are up to seven different products and each have different modes of action to how they make nitrogen from urea more efficient. They are being tested on a corn crop, across good, commercial sized plots in the Gatton, Queensland area and ran by some of the best scientist in the agriculture industry.
From the trial perspective it is 6 – 8 weeks from harvest, but they all seem to be performing better agronomically than just urea, albeit and economic analysis will be interesting on some of the products. However, the point of this blog is not so much the results of the trial as it’s too early to tell, it is more the point to discuss the approach or comments from the research.
As in most research you hope the results answer the proposed questions, but often they raise even more questions. One of the most raised questions to date is: “should we as an industry be looking at a broader approach to nitrogen use efficiency?” The challenge any industry has – there is research and there is the commercial aspect of the companies involved and often getting better collaboration between them is difficult.
The point that a broader approach is most likely the better approach is for some us, an obvious one. Too often our industry seems very one dimensional in our approach to nutrition, how often have we heard – “urea is cheap, just put more on” rather than looking at ways to make nitrogen more efficient!! In our last blog “The Best of Both World”, we discussed a plants ability to better resist pest and disease through combining broader nutrition elements with bio-stimulants. So the question continues to be asked – are the benefits for growers greater than “cheap urea” if a broader approach is taken?
One of the researchers commented that a soil can have many kilograms of nitrogen per hectare in the top 30cm, yet if we do not apply any nitrogen the crop suffers as the trial is showing. As the trial area had high levels of overall soil nitrogen but the plant could not access it. As the researcher stated, this then raises the question should we be taking a “broader approach”. Instead of just looking at making a granule of urea more efficient, or simply applying more standard urea when we already have so much in the soil, we need to look at a broader approach to achieve better results.
The positive from our perspective is that researchers are talking about this broader approach and we know that work we are doing now is getting growers better results agronomically and economically. We are excited by these opportunities for improvement and look forward to working together with growers to minimise losses and achieve greater profits.
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