Nutrient implications for failed crops

Many growers and advisers in eastern Australia are weighing up the options for their drought-stressed and frost-damaged crops.  Is it more economical to conserve crops as hay or silage, graze them or hope to eventually harvest them? Has the generally high cost of hay cutting been fully taken into account? These questions are addressed by Tim Weaver (CSIRO) and Eddy Pol (Summit Fertilizers) in what to do with a failed crop.

Any decision made now will potentially impact crop nutrition and fertiliser management for 2019. Rob Norton, IPNI, and Roger Armstrong, VIC DEDJTR discuss nutrient loss when making hay from failed crops.

Cutting hay will remove between two and three times more nitrogen, up to 10 times more potassium and about five times more sulphur than if the crop was left for grain. But the amounts removed really depends on how badly the crops are moisture-stressed and frost-damaged.

Other future crop nutrition considerations are outlined in tips to tweak your crop nutrition program following drought and six articles to help manage crop nutrition during dry times.

GRDC and NSW DPI have recently developed a four-part podcast series from the Tough Season Questions Answered grower forum held at Henty Machinery Field Days. Specialist NSW DPI researchers discussed the costs and benefits associated with various management options for failed crops.

In the first podcast, Dr Felicity Harris looks at assessing biomass in the paddock. This helps growers decide to either take a crop through to harvest, cut it for fodder or consider grazing options. In the second podcast, Nigel Phillips explains why a tough season needs an action plan. The third podcast features Richard Meyer applying learnings from past droughts and frost events to this season, to optimise feed quality in failed crops.

In the final podcast, Graeme Sandral talks about the impacts of drought on crop nutrient removal and seed quality for next season. He highlights issues such as low nutrient removal in failed or low yielding crops. He also reminds growers and advisers that the nitrogen and phosphorus left in the soil needs to be factored into next season’s fertiliser budget.

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GRDC and NSW DPI Tough Season grower forum Sept 2018

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