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Breakthrough in lime application

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Ausplow's John Ryan (left) and Nutrian director Dave Seagreen.

Ausplow's John Ryan (left) and Nutrian director Dave Seagreen.

Elevating soil pH quickly and cheaply could be the next breakthrough in agriculture, particularly in sandy soils. And it’s the reason Ausplow is collaborating with Perth-based Nutrian to trial a liquid formulation called Calbud. According to Nutrian owner and chemist Dave Seagreen trials since 2009 have shown Calbud to be highly effective in neutralising soil acidity and impacting against non-wetting soil as well as a soil nutrient contributing to increased crop yields. “In many cases, Calbud has increased yields for an approximate outlay of $12 per hectare depending on the severity of acidity,” he said. “As an added benefit Calbud contains magnesium to assist in making phosphate more available to plants and good levels of natural carbon, essential for microbial activity. “While there are other products in the market place that can elevate soil pH and therefore contribute to increased crop yields, the real point of difference with Calbud is price,” he said. “Trials have shown consistent soil pH elevations against control sites in soil layers 0-10cm, 10-20cm and 20-30cm. Compared against limesand treatments (3t/ha spread, $200/ha), Calbud, deep banded at a rate of 2L/ha, achieved comparable soil pH elevations (0-10cm) at a cost between $10-$12/ha. In the deep soil profile between 10 and 30cm, soil pH readings in the Calbud treatment were 5.6pH (10-20cm) and 6.1pH (20-30cm). Limesand treatments were 4.9pH (10-20cm) and 4.9pH (20-30cm). The control treatment produced readings of 4.6ph (10-20cm) and 4.9Ph (20-30cm). Wheat yields from last year’s trials showed a Calciprill (300kg/ha) treatment, applied as a split application, achieved the best yield of 2.899t/ha with Calbud second at 2.589t/ha. But the Calciprill treatment cost $180/ha versus Calbud at $10-$12/ha. The gross margin story saw banded Calbud (2L/ha) achieve $496.70/ha compared with the control result (nil nutrient applied) of $460.30. The next best applied nutrient was a split Calciprill treatment (300kg/ha) at $442.70. Limesand, spread at 3t/ha, produced a gross margin of 305.70. “In a lime survey held by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) in 2011 it was concluded that the quality of lime was directly linked to its fineness or particle size,” Dave said. “The smaller the particle of lime, the more rapid the rate of reaction it has with the hydrogen ions in the soil. “In Calbud’s case this reaction is extremely rapid being that the average particle size of Calbud is approximately one to two microns with a surface area of approximately 300-400 times the size of the average lime product, which directly results in its advanced acidity neutralisation properties and mitigating effect on non-wetting sands.” According to Ausplow owner John Ryan, the evolution of liquid nutrients, which started in the early 2000s, was the reason he designed and developed the Multistream granular and liquid delivery system. “It was evident to me back then that the DBS and our Easitill gave us the ability to introduce liquids in a range of depths,” he said. John launched the Multistream in 2001 as the world's first totally integrated airseeder capable of accurately metering both granular and liquid product. John has continued to remain at the cutting edge of agricultural mechanical systems and continues to research to assess liquid nutrients to replace bulk fertilisers. “Farmers have been struggling to arrest pH decline in the subsoil and I think we have our Pro-D system and the Easitill as ready-made tools to ameliorate the soil while elevating soil pH with Calbud,” John said. “We’re also maintaining our one-pass system which adds to increased gross margin equation. “To me this is as exciting as the initial development of the DBS.” Mr Seagreen said soil acidity was caused by hydrogen ions (the term pH stands for percentage hydrogen or potential hydrogen) often as a result of the application of nitrogen. “Increased soil acidity affects both fertilizer and plant performance and, in severe cases, increases aluminium toxicity with severe results in growing crops,” he said. “Carbonates, being either the calcium or magnesium form, are grouped together and are commonly known as lime or dolomite. “Carbonates are essential in combating soil acidity and are far more effective in doing so than other forms of calcium due to their neutralizing reaction with hydrogen ions present within the soil. “With all this is mind, Nutrian has developed Calbud in a bid to assist farmers with the growing acidity problem. “In doing so it was recognized that key features included Calbud being easy to use, it had to be able to be injected down the tube with other products such as UAN, it had to be cost effective and, most of all, it had to work.” Ausplow and Nutrian have organized trial sites throughout the Wheatbelt with DBS owners. If you are interested in trialing Calbud, call John on 0419 831 904.

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Friday, January 30, 2015