After a promising start to the season, Great Southern District Manager Matt Tropiano is busy checking crop nutrient status, revisiting yield targets and adjusting nutrition programs.
“This is a really important time of year when the right amount of fertiliser, at just the right time, can have a huge impact on final yield,” says Matt.
“At the moment we are focusing on post emergent nitrogen (N) applications. We are plant testing so we can give those results to growers allowing them to make informed decisions around these applications."
In-season N is a critical consideration but not the only nutrient that may need adjusting. Matt doesn’t like seeing dollars wasted on unnecessary or poorly planned fertiliser applications.
“If another nutrient is limiting there is no point in applying as much N,” says Matt. “Farmers spend thousands of dollars on fertiliser so it’s important to take the guesswork out of plant and soil nutrition.” Part of this means getting into the paddock and determining the nutritional status, through tissue testing.
Considering the best approach for each farm and paddock is critical. Matt works with growers to tailor their fertiliser plans to their crops, soil type, region, yield potential, and seasonal changes.
“There is a big variation in weather and soil conditions here, so you have to take that into account and think differently on each property."
Matt and his team of four provide plant and soil nutrition advice to more than 400 growers across an area stretching almost 300km, from Williams in the west, Katanning in the south, to Hyden in the east.
Before relocating to Wickepin, Matt was an area manager in Moora and heavily involved with CSBP’s manganese (Mn) trials. Regular lime applications to tackle soil acidity can induce Mn deficiency, particularly in lupins on sandy soils and cereals on forest gravels.
“Manganese comes from many sources and we were testing which ones were most effective. The trials showed that not all sources give the same return on investment.
Soil application of manganese sulphate (Mn source in CSBP’s manganese range of products) provided a greater uptake of Mn to the crop when compared to Mn oxide and Mn dioxide, and delivered the highest yields. Knowing the right source of manganese to use stops growers spending money on products unsuitable for their soil type and situation."
Matt comes from a family farm at Mullewa running both a cropping and sheep enterprise. Despite initially studying surveying, Matt returned to the land, shifting his career into agribusiness and agronomy. Matt is now CSBP’s Great Southern District Manager, enjoying the variety the role offers.