As published in the Plains Producer, Wednesday 17 February 2016

Biostimulants that promote a balanced release of nutrients with the added stimulus of soil microbes have demonstrated they have a role in agricultural production in the Balaklava district.

BioAg’s South Australian Area Manager Phil Toy with AgFert’s Derryn Stringer.

Following demonstrations of economic gains in cereals, Derryn Stringer of Agfert fertilizers encouraged a prominent producer to try Balance & Grow on his oaten hay paddocks.

“The results were obvious, with several more bales cut from each run and a big return on the investment made. He is convinced of the value and considering expanding the practice to his meadow hay.”

Using Balance & Grow on a 20-hectare section of oaten hay resulted in an extra 280 small bales and taking in the cost of single application there was a six-fold return on the investment.

While counting the number of bales is a convincing measurement of the difference made by this biostimulant, visual observations included more robust plants and longer lasting active growth, with greenness taking longer to fade at the end of the season.

Balance & Grow was applied at 2 litres/hectare at early tillering on the property, which has an even soil type (sandy loam) and good weed control.

While the fertiliser background on the property in question is based mainly on DAP with 1 percent added Zinc, another consideration for the future will be use of BioAgPhos, with high quality reactive rock phosphate that releases phosphorus more slowly.

BioAg’s Phil Toy says this example builds on a four-year background of independent local research and commercial adoption of BioAg biostimulants. Soil & Seed, for example, applied at sowing for cereal crops and at the establishment stage for pastures can provide much needed nutrients with added stimulus from soil microbes” he said.

“Balance & Grow and Fruit & Balance, similarly based on liquid cultures, are applied during the growing season to promote vegetative growth as well as grain development.”

An independent evaluation of BioAg products alongside other options, carried out by Agrisearch Services stated: “The mild tillering application of Balance & Grow (in trials of wheat) provided the greatest improvement in crop yield.”

In this trial 3L/ha of Soil & Seed was applied at pre-sowing and the mid tillering application of Balance & Grow was at 2L/ha.

All treatments being compared were against a background of district practice of 60kg/ha of urea and 50kg/ha of DAP for wheat.

Apart from increasing yields, Hart trials 2013 have shown a lift in protein in wheat from 10.5 to 12.8.

When early adopters demonstrated that research results could be replicated on a commercial basis, other cereal producers followed.

Now the success is being transferred to another important sector of the district’s cropping economy, namely hay production.

Oaten and meadow hay are produced for local and export markets.