Market conditions make it more important than ever to maximise fertiliser use efficiency.

 

This means driving profitability by focussing on lowering the cost per unit of production.

Consider the two simple scenarios (A and B) below: 

Although scenario A is cheaper on a $/ha basis, scenario B is cheaper on a $/t of production basis…and it’s more profitable.

So, how can we drive down costs per unit of production to maximise returns?
The biggest opportunity lies in fertiliser use. Efficient fertiliser applications supply nutrients to the crops (or pastures) we’re growing at the right rate, time, and in the right place. They also use the right product for the job. To choose the right fertiliser we need to know the nutrient status of paddocks, understand any constraints, then work towards achievable production targets.

Soil testing is a good start, followed up with in-season plant testing.

If phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) are limiting, there’s likely to be more lost than gained from cutting rates – especially with high grain prices. P and K deficiencies will reduce the profitability of using nitrogen (N), and will limit the ability to capitalise on a good season with in-season applications of N. For crops, we only get one crack at applying P – at seeding, and the best responses to both P and K come from banding at seeding.

Much of the widespread adoption of Flexi-N and the K-Till/MacroPro range has been related to the efficiency gains from banding these products at seeding. Products in the K-Till and MacroPro range contain N, P, K, and sulfur (S) in every granule and are easier to apply evenly than blends. Applying Flexi-N through a boom is also more precise than topdressing granules.

Driving efficiency through focussing on the right product, rate, timing, and placement of fertiliser is critical to lowering the cost per unit of production and improving profitability. 

 

 

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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