Fertiliser is an expensive input and improving the efficiency of in-crop applications can save money and boost production. To help farmers get the most out of their fertiliser spreaders, local farming systems group Riverine Plains Inc is holding a “drop in” fertiliser spreader calibration day at Rutherglen on Thursday 2 June.
The day is being run as part of the GRDC project “Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubbles in the Riverine Plains region”, which has a component looking at improving the nitrogen use efficiency of crops sown in stubble retained systems.
“Our soils generally don’t have enough nitrogen to meet the needs of growing crops, so to maximise crop growth and yield, farmers apply fertiliser to make up the shortfall” explained Riverine Plains Inc Extension Officer, Dr Cassandra Schefe .
“However, with applied fertilisers, only a portion ends up actually being used by the plant. While there are many ways that we can incrementally improve fertiliser uptake, one of the simplest things we can do is to ensure our spreading equipment is working as it is designed to” she said.
“Many machines distribute fertiliser unevenly, which can then lead to unevenness in crop growth, development and maturity. Calibrating equipment helps achieve a more even distribution of fertiliser throw, and is useful for determining the actual throw width itself. This simple improvement in distribution can then have very positive effect on yield potential” said Cassandra.
The calibration day will follow an informal format where growers can drop in over the course of the day to watch Russell Nichol, a Fertcare registered calibration specialist, calibrate a 24m Landaco TS10000 and a 36m Kuhn 50.1WT Axis and a 36m Amazone ZA-M 3000 Profis.
“The calibration process involves the use of catch trays to collect fertiliser as the spreader passes over them. The distribution of fertiliser is then measured and graphed, and this information is used to calibrate the spreader”.
“As he works on each machine, Russell will be imparting his tips and tricks, which will be extremely valuable to farmers when they are working on their own equipment” concluded Cassandra.
The day will begin at 9 am at the “Shearing Shed” at the Agriculture Victoria – Rutherglen Centre. Light refreshments will be provided. Access will be via Research Station Lane, Rutherglen.
All are welcome and there is no cost to attend. For further information, contact Cassandra Schefe, Extension Officer, Riverine Plains Inc (03) 5744 1713 / 0419 238 798.