Liebe seeks nutrient ideal

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

Knowing your optimum nutrient levels may be the key to stop money going down the drain.

Dumping a whole lot of nitrogen on a crop may get results, but how much of it is going to waste?

The Liebe Group’s new trials at Dalwallinu will look at this over the next five years with the aim of coming up with an optimum input package to apply to crops.

The trial, called Practice for Profit, will run at one location, take into account rotations and look at the highest and lowest inputs and their effects.

Liebe Group executive officer Chris O’Callaghan said the project, while looking at all nutrients, was likely to boil down to nitrogen application.

“We are putting a lot of nitrogen on and there is a lot of nitrogen being tied up in the soil and not all of that gets released into a plant-available form, ” he said.

“We think we can increase that through more biological matter and we will find out what is the optimum level of nitrogen over a long period.

“The other thing we are looking at is, if we do five years of low nitrogen, are we setting ourselves up for disaster? Will the whole system crash in five years?”

Meanwhile, Liebe’s soil carbon trial is in its tenth and final year and will be evaluated at the end of the season.

Liebe has been applying organic mater on a three-year rotation of wheat, wheat and lupins looking for an upper and lower limit of carbon.

“Every third year we have been applying 20t/ha of organic matter, like lucerne straw and canola chaff, to see how far we can push that soil type in terms of organic carbon, ” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“We want to see if the soil has an upper limit of carbon, compared to soils which have been continuously burnt which shows a lower limit of carbon.

“This will enable us to know what the potential is. If we do everything right is there a limit and are we wasting money by doing too much?”

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