SRA congratulates Burdekin growers on collaborative nitrogen research

Date Posted

30 November, 2016

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Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has congratulated the sugarcane growers involved in the RP20 nitrogen trials in the Burdekin region, after the project won the top prize at the Queensland Premier’s Awards for Excellence recently.

The RP20 project brings the science of efficient nutrient application to the field with a series of trials on the farms of grower collaborators.

It is focussed on proving the science behind the industry’s standard for nutrient management, SIX EASY STEPS™, within Burdekin soils and conditions.

Growers involved in the project are receiving practical information about the economics of applying nitrogen according to the SIX EASY STEPS™ guidelines, allowing them to grow a crop that strikes the right balance between yield, CCS (sugar content), and input costs.

Burdekin grower Laurence Dal Santo is one of the growers who has been involved with the RP20 nitrogen trials on his farm. He said he participated because he was keen to understand how he could most efficiently apply nitrogen.

“We now have confidence that we can put on less nitrogen, grow the same amount of cane, and have more money in our pocket,” he said.
Eric Barbagallo, a grower that has been involved in the trials since 2011, said the RP20 project was a win-win. “I now use 15 tonne less fertiliser a year because of the trials, with no loss of crop, tonnage or sugar,” Mr Barbagallo said.

Frank Gorizia is another grower involved and said the trials were an interesting experience. “They have challenged my traditional thinking and the results have surprised me,” Mr Gorizia said.

SRA Executive Manager, Technology, Dr Peter Allsopp said that the 23 growers who collaborated in the project with former SRA Researcher Mr Julian Connellan and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation should be congratulated for their work since the project started in 2011.

“As the lead agency for research for the Australian sugarcane industry, SRA plays a lead role in funding and researching activities related to nitrogen use efficiency and other issues that have an interaction between the farming system and an upon impact water quality,” Dr Allsopp said. “The collaborative work on RP20 is an example of that.

“SRA provides robust and independent research in this field. SRA research assists the industry in moving toward meeting water quality targets, while optimising productivity and profitability.

“SRA’s work on this is continuing under the new project RP161 funded by EHP, which is being led by Farmacist and continues to involve SRA as a collaborator, to further the achievements that have already been made via RP20.”

The SIX EASY STEPS™ is an integrated nutrient management tool that enables the adoption of best practice nutrient management on farm. It consists of:

1. Knowing and understanding your soils.
2. Understanding and managing nutrient process and losses.
3. Regular soil testing.
4. Adopting soil-specific nutrient management guidelines.
5. Checking on the adequacy of nutrient inputs (e.g. leaf analyses).
6. Keeping good records to modify nutrient inputs when and where necessary.

“Growers tell us they want evidence that changing practices will be worthwhile, that they won’t lose money or production while meeting environmental objectives,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “Farmers have come out of this project as enthusiastic converts to the SIX EASY STEPS™ science-based guidelines for fertiliser use.

“We applaud projects such as this which put the farmer and their business at the centre of activities. It is a win on so many levels for the industry and these growers are now leaders among their peers for taking action and testing the science for themselves.”

Media contact: SRA Executive Manager, Communications, Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815.

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