Research into mid-row banding benefits continues

In 2016, Agriculture Victoria researcher Ashley Wallace conducted mid-row banding (MRB) trials in Victoria. These were part of the GRDC/Agriculture Victoria Regional Research Agronomist program.The trials compared MRB nitrogen fertiliser in-crop to other application methods. MRB is when fertiliser is applied in concentrated bands below the surface to every second inter-row.  They found MRB could potentially improve yield and N use efficiency.

The trials were repeated in 2017 and showed more variable results. But the research indicated MRB in-crop offered many potential benefits. It consistently improved N use efficiency, particularly where N deficiency is high. It also showed the potential to increase grain protein.

Future research

Trials will continue in the Wimmera and Mallee during 2018. Researchers will compare different N fertiliser application methods at sowing, as well as in-crop. They will also compare liquid and granular N fertilisers. Previous trials mainly focussed on liquid application.

Researchers will also investigate different methods of MRB. They will compare using ultra-high pressure injection instead of a disc opener. It is hoped that this will help with stubble handling and narrow row spacings.

Advantages of MRB

The potential advantages from MRB N fertiliser include:

  • Increased yield, protein and N use efficiency,
  • Reduced N losses from volatilisation where N is applied below the soil surface,
  • Reduced need for rainfall following application,
  • High concentrations of ammonium, which may slow nitrification and reduce losses through denitrification and nitrate leaching, and
  • Altering the placement of N to potentially reduce microbial tie-up of applied N.

Adopting MRB

Growers wanting to MRB N fertiliser in-crop will need to consider factors such as:

  • The ability to accurately apply N inter-row at a given row spacing, stubble load or crop stage,
  • The speed of operations,
  • The capital cost and ongoing operating costs, and
  • Unforeseen impacts such as increased weed germination following inter-row soil disturbance.

Acknowledgements:

James Nuttall and Jasmine Marsh, Agriculture Victoria.

More

ExtensionAUS: MRB promising for in-crop nutrition

GRDC: 2018 GRDC Updates MRB Ash Wallace

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