Soil nutrition considerations following a dry season

A tractor spreading fertiliser

Producers are reminded that when deciding on crop nutrition following a dry season, the main factor to consider is knowing the likely responsiveness to the major elements, which is best determined by soil tests.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) advises that when it comes to responsiveness, there is no general rule to determine whether the same or less fertilizer is required after a dry season. 

While less nutrients have been removed with production, fertilizer applied this season may or may not be sufficient for the next and it is dependant on the status of the soil at the start of the season. 

It is better to think of nutrition in terms of responsiveness, ranging from not responsive to very responsive. 

Producers  can reduce fertilizer input according to budget and still grow a profitable crop. The biggest return to money spent when there is a fertilizer response is the first amount applied. 

The initial amount of fertilizer promotes seedling vigour so ensures the biggest return for dollars invested. 

There is a bigger return to fertilizer dollars spread over two hectares than one but consider each nutrient separately.

Soil tests are the best indicator of whether a paddock is likely to be responsive to fertilizers. 

Many soils will barely be responsive to Phosphorus (P) and will only require a minimum starter rate of 3 to 4 kg P/ha. 

More information is available at What’s the minimum Phosphorus rate if you are following a poor crop? 

On heavier soils Nitrogen (N) may be higher following a dry season but rainfall over the summer can have a bigger impact than any residual N. 

Refer to Tips to tweak your crop nutrition program following drought for some useful information. 

For more information contact Jeremy Lemon, Senior Development Officer, Albany, on +61 (0)8 9892 8413.