A new app to assist grain growers to identify the most profitable liming strategy for their paddocks was officially launched at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days today.
The iLime app was developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, with co-investment by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The free, digital tool draws from more than 20 years of research data, as well as the expertise of Dr James Fisher, from Desiree Futures, and Premier’s Midcareer Fellow, Dr Fiona Evans, who works with Murdoch and Curtin Universities.
The easy-to-use app enables growers to compare and evaluate the profitability of two different liming scenarios, based on a series of straightforward settings.
Department senior research officer Chris Gazey, who was instrumental in the app’s creation, said the digital tool would help to boost growers’ confidence when deciding how best to invest in liming to overcome soil acidity.
“Soil acidity is one of the biggest constraints to crop profitability, limiting yields on average by 13 per cent across about half of the Western Australian grainbelt, costing growers more than $500 million per year,” Mr Gazey said.
“Long term department trials have shown liming is the most effective strategy to increase soil pH to the minimum target level of 5.5 in the surface and 4.8 in the subsurface to achieve optimal yields.
“However, liming can be a costly investment so it is important to weigh up all the facts before identifying how much to spend on treating which paddocks – something the iLime app does quickly, easily and tailored to your farm.”
The iLime app has been constructed so that once downloaded, users do not have to connect to the internet so it can be accessed at any time via a mobile tablet or phone in the paddock or in the office.
Once the user answers a small selection of questions, iLime calculates the impact of liming strategies on crop yields and cash flow over 20 years.
This includes the return on investment over five and 10 years, the net present value and the break-even point, crop and pasture yield, as well as the pH response at 10 centimetre intervals, compared with not liming.
Mr Gazey said the app was based on default parameters or could be tailored to customised settings.
“In just six clicks, users can calculate a response, based on the soil type, annual rainfall range, rotation, lime source and rate,” he said.
“Alternatively, users can customise and save the characteristics of different paddocks.”
The iLime app is an extension of the Optlime model, developed by the department as part of its Time to Lime initiative, with the support of investors, including the National Landcare Program and GRDC.
GRDC acting senior regional manager – west, Peter Bird, said the iLime app was part of an expanding suite of tools and investments, based on empirical data, from which to develop more informed, effective soil management strategies.
“The official release of the iLime app is yet another illustration of the commitment by the GRDC and the department to work in partnership to overcome soil constraints to crop production and boost the profitability of Western Australian growers,” Mr Bird said.
“The app will work well in conjunction with the recently updated Ranking Options for Soil Amendments, or ROSA, also developed by the partnership, to help prioritise methods to mitigate soil constraints.
“Earlier this year, the GRDC and DPIRD announced three projects, worth a combined $42 million, that will research solutions to WA’s major soil constraints.
“These projects are expected to generate significant improvements to crop yields and profitability.”
The iLime app can be downloaded for free for both Apple and Android mobile digital devices.
For more information click here.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937