November 2016

Grants up for grabs

The NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) is offering two grants designed for primary producers/enterprises:

Farm Business Skills Program
Under the program, primary producers can access grants up to $5000 to undertake business improvement activities, either through courses or to undertake tailored programs. While enterprises can access grants to $9000 (i.e. by including four additional people at $1000 each). Costs are reimbursed at a rate of 50 per cent and claims can include some non-course costs.

Farm Innovation Fund
This incentive-based initiative (PDF) assists primary producers identify and address risks to their farming enterprise, improve permanent farm infrastructure and ensure long-term productivity and sustainable land use, aiding in meeting changes to seasonal conditions.

Deakin research update

Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CeRRF) has been investigating the use of drone technologies in rice production systems for monitoring crop performance. Low-cost, drone-based platforms, such as DJI Phantom 4, are easy to use and give farmers the ability to take hi-resolution images when wanted.

Drones have become affordable, data-collecting tools which provide new insights into the effects of water and nitrogen management on plant growth. For the full story on the adoption of drones across many on-farm applications, and the benefits for farm management, see page 20 of the Rice R&D 2016 Farmers’ Newsletter.

Cotton crop process 2016

By Kieran O’Keeffe, CottonInfo

There is a wide range in stages of development in the different parts of southern NSW when I was checking cotton crops last week (mid-November). This indicates there was a wide range of sowing times, due to the wet conditions, in the different parts of the region. Some crops were at six leaves while other crops are only at cotyledon stage. In some cases, pre-plant nitrogen could not be applied and I have had many questions on what is the best way to supply crop needs.

Nitrogen targets
Nitrogen management has three main phases; emergence to squaring, squaring to peak flowering and peak flowers to 60 per cent open bolls. This corresponds with the demand graph shown below. Up to squaring just adequate nitrogen is unlikely to affect yield (soil N or 80 kg/ha 0-60 cm).

Squaring to flower, there is a need to get the crop nitrogen underway to supply peak demand without the threat of premature cut-out at each watering and sustain nitrogen through to peak flowering.

Peak flowering to cut- out, there is a need to recognise reducing demand and avoid high nitrogen levels negatively impacting defoliation.

Each in crop nitrogen application method has pros and cons both from an agronomic and application logistics position and trade-offs are inevitable.

If no base N fertiliser has been applied the best option would be side dressing 50 per cent of the N budget into the side of the bed then irrigating.

Broadcasting nitrogen in crop is best done early as it becomes less ideal when the canopy closes over and can cause leaf damage if done too late but some urea will leave the field in water related loss processes. Urea that lands on top of the bed is likely to leave the system as Ammonium gas and not get into the plant. The balance will have to be applied as water run fertiliser.

The N trial last season indicated that as long as the N is applied before first square there was no reduction in yield.

Peak demand is around 99 days after planting so it is important to look at levels through petiole tests and work out nitrogen budgets to ensure the crops requirements are met.

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