Farm Management

A new tool to make fertiliser calibrations easier

sugar-cane-field

Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has developed a new online tool called CogCalibratorTM to make life easier for sugarcane growers when calibrating their cog-driven fertiliser applicators.

SRA Adoption Officer, Mr Gavin Rodman, said calibrating a fertiliser applicator is a necessary component of efficient fertiliser nutrient management, but it can also be a mundane and repetitive task.

“Calibration is an essential activity each year, because even though growers may be using the same fertiliser blend as they did in 2017, the consistency and size of granules will vary from year to year,” Mr Rodman said. “In addition, different granule sizes and mixtures will flow at different rates, so when changing fertilisers, a calibration should be conducted prior to application.

“It is critical to ensure all nutrients are supplied as per the SIX EASY STEPS® nutrient management guidelines to ensure a balanced nutritional program and to give the crop the best chance of reaching its potential and to minimise any potential impacts on water quality.”

Calibrating a fertiliser applicator ensures that growers know how much fertiliser is being applied, which can assist with fertiliser orders.

With the price of urea currently around $550 ex GST per tonne, a calibration that refines the application of urea by 50 kg/ha could lead to a saving of about $27.50 per hectare, with the possibility of blended products resulting in greater savings due to their higher costs.

“With sugar prices depressed, getting ordering and application of fertilisers correct helps with avoiding unnecessary expenses,” Mr Rodman said.

Another reason to calibrate your fertiliser applicator is to comply with legislation. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (QLD), all Queensland sugarcane growers are required to keep records of soil tests, use of fertilisers and use of agricultural chemicals. This includes calibration results.

“CogCalibratorTM is a new online tool to help make this task simpler. It doesn’t remove the need to collect fertiliser in a bucket over a specified distance, but it does assist with the rate and cog configuration calculations.”

Source: Sugar Research Australia

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