30 March 2020

The world has become more volatile. Since late last year the value of the Australian dollar has fallen and now we are seeing reduced production of fertilisers and other farm inputs. This and more is driving up the cost of fertilisers with prices for key fertilisers already on the rise.

As fertiliser prices increase nutrient use efficiency becomes crucial for managing farm costs. Efficient use of nutrient leads to reduced up-front costs for purchasing nutrients, including nitrogen.

The goal of nitrogen use efficiency is to maximise the proportion of applied nitrogen that is able to be effectively absorbed and used by the plant.

Improved nitrogen use efficiency is achieved by improving the soil’s capacity to retain nitrogen, as well as the plant’s ability to access and use nitrogen from soils.

Retaining nitrogen in the soil

There are three main pathways of nitrogen loss: nitrate leaching, denitrification, and volatilisation.

Approximately 40% of the nitrogen fertiliser applied to crops is not utilised and could be lost. This is particularly relevant in cases where the plant or soil do not take up ammonia as it is liberated from urea based fertilisers.

It is possible to avoid nitrogen losses by maintaining nitrogen in the ammonium form.

Volatisation can occur where soils are limited in oxygen and soil bacteria use the oxygen molecule in nitrite (NO2-) and nitrate (NO3-), converting these forms of nitrogen salts to NO (nitric oxide), N2O (nitrous oxide) and N2 (nitrogen); all of which are gases and escape to atmosphere.

Leaching can occur when nitrogen is in the nitrate form as it is negatively charged and consequently does not bond to clay particles. Strategies to avoid nitrogen leaching include holding nitrogen in the ammonium form which is positively charged and is less likely to leach.

Canola in bloom
Plan ahead to minimise the cost of nitrogen inputs

How BioAg biostimulant Soil & Seed helps reduce nitrogen loss

Good soil microbiology can reduce nitrogen losses by improving effective nutrient uptake. Soil & Seed inoculates the soil and acts as a soil amendment, accelerating good soil microbiology by:

  • aggregating soil particles and improving water infiltration and aeration (access to oxygen in the soil)
  • mineralising and humifying organic matter to create humic substances that increasing cation exchangeable capacity, creating additional space for ammonium (NH4+)
  • stimulating root growth and the plant’s ability to access nutrients
  • improving the accumulation of soil carbon
  • fixing nitrogen
  • solubilising other nutrients and trace elements.

Applied pre-sowing, at sowing, as required during early plant growth or after stress events such as water logging, drought or prolonged cold temperatures, Soil & Seed supports the beneficial microorganisms that play an important role in improving the biological, physical and chemical properties of soil.

The adoption of a BioAg fertility program also improves the soil and nitrogen use efficiency for perennial crops such as almonds

BioAg’s programs start with the soil

BioAg’s range of biostimulants is at the core of our programs, with success on-farm and in independent, replicated trials. Our focus is to measure and analyse the soil’s capabilities and develop cost-effective nutrition programs that meet the soil’s and crop’s requirements and help the grower achieve yield and quality goals.

BioAg Area Managers and distributors work directly with growers to develop fertility programs across a range of crop types. Our programs deliver improved nutrient use efficiency, utilisation, uptake and in-plant nutrient mobilisation.

Talk to us about how a BioAg program this season could reduce your nutrient input costs and increase your crop yields and quality for maximised profit.

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White paper: Nutrient Use Efficiency - soils a key factor

Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE) is the term used to discuss the ability of plants to efficiently uptake, assimilate and utilise nutrients in the soil.

The use of fertilisers, ameliorants and trace elements is how farmers try to improve yield or address a shortage of nutrients.

Sometimes nutrient shortage is not the issue.

Download this white paper

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