Study reveals growers can change nitrogen applications to increase profit and slash greenhouse gases

Olivia FordCountryman
DPIRD research scientist Sud Kharel.
Camera IconDPIRD research scientist Sud Kharel. Credit: Peter Maloney/DPIRD Photographer Peter Maloney

A researcher from WA’s agriculture department will this month present his findings on how nitrogen and liming applications can cut back greenhouse gas emissions and boost profitability for growers.

It comes after researchers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development used bio-economic modelling across 14 grain belt locations in WA to investigate changes into farm business profitability as a result of different nitrogen and liming strategies.

The research was part of the Western Australian Farming Systems projects, with co-investment from DPIRD and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

DPIRD researcher Sud Kharel will present the findings later this month at the 2024 GRDC Grains Research Update in Perth.

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He said the findings highlighted how growers could actively use nitrogen applications to help make profit while also reducing emissions.

“Adjusting nitrogen applications during the season led to increased gross margins and reduced emissions in all study locations, particularly in higher rainfall locations,” he said.

“Modelling of nitrogen application strategies aimed at maximising profit, rather than yield, always resulted in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is likely to be a more effective and sustainable approach to targeting emission reduction than limiting lime application.”

Mr Kharel noted while adjusting nitrogen application was found to help reduce emissions, neglecting lime applications as a way to cut down emissions would also reduce farm profit.

“While higher emissions resulted from liming, as expected, farm profitability increased due to the ability to continue profitable cropping options in the rotation, making the investment in liming cost-effective.”

The GRDC Grains Research Update will be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on February 26 and 27.

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