If we ever needed a reminder that nitrogen (N) deficiencies could be widespread this year, than the images below are perhaps all we need. 

They highlight the sharp drop in soil nitrate-N levels from last year - courtesy of a bumper crop for most of the State and limited mineralisation of organic N since.

The red dots signify samples with less than 5 mg/kg nitrate N – equivalent to less than 6 to 8 kg of N/ha in the top 10cm. When it rains, we will get more N from mineralisation of organic matter, but the this will be limited by low organic matter levels and cooler temperatures. All of these factors will make us more dependent on N fertiliser at seeding in order to get good crop establishment. 

None of this should come as any surprise. Just a reminder to be prepared to use more N at seeding. 

WA soil nitrate levels 0 - 10 cm samples 

Soil nitrate N measured in 0-10cm samples in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 soil sampling seasons.

James Easton
By James Easton
- Senior Agronomist

James has over 30 years’ experience working on soil and plant nutrition (crops and pastures).

He graduated from the University of Western Australia with a degree in Agricultural Science (Honours). He has in depth knowledge of historic fertiliser research trials and has worked closely with many growers, consultants, research institutions and farming groups over the years.

James gets a lot of satisfaction from sharing his knowledge with growers and those who support them. And he enjoys the fact that we are always learning.

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