A willingness to try new things with the potential for productivity increases has seen David Agius become one of a growing number of cane growers to try using ENTEC® Urea.
Mr Agius has 220 hectares under cane, growing with the help of some supplementary irrigation from the Teemburra Dam.
He farms with his brother, Jeffery and their parents, in the Septimus district aiming to maximise productivity wherever possible.
“We are firm believers in doing everything in our power to maximise productivity, whether that is placing nitrogen fertiliser under the ground to minimise volatilisation losses, ensuring correct phosphorus placement, or irrigating early so we can get around the farm before the crop starts stressing,” said Mr Agius.
“When our adviser, Ian from Mackay Rural Supplies, suggested there were potential productivity increases to be gained by using a more efficient nitrogen fertiliser, we decided to give it a try.”
The Agius family used Oakenden Ratooner fertiliser with ENTEC® Urea on their crops a month after harvest last year.
This supplied 160 kg/ha of nitrogen with 15 kg/ha of phosphorus, 120 kg/ha of potassium and 15 kg/ha of sulphur.
Ian Faulkner from Mackay Rural Services explained that using ENTEC could improve the efficiency of nitrogen fertilisers by keeping the applied fertiliser in the ammonium form in the soil for several weeks after application.
“This helps protect the fertiliser from losses from leaching and denitrification, which can be a problem, especially after heavy rainfall,” he said.
However, Mr Agius said his crops had a dry start to the season last year.
“By the time the wet season started, we had probably been around the farm at least three times with irrigation,” he said.
“We got our first good rain in early January and from then on it has been an excellent growing season.”
In a normal year, Mr Agius achieves cane yields of about 100 t/ha, although this varies depending on the weather.
“We’re hoping for good yields this year, higher than last season, to show the benefits of using ENTEC in crop, but in terms of nitrogen efficiency it has definitely been worthwhile,” he said.
“The crop certainly looks healthy for this time of year.
“Interestingly, the late harvested cane which normally seems to run out of puff due to being fertilised so close to the wet season is still looking vigorous.”
He said he would continue his drive to maximise productivity every year.
“Next season we’ll use ENTEC again and we’re also discussing a split nitrogen application using EASY N later in the season on some of the early harvested crops,” Mr Agius said.
“Local trial results are showing some positive yield results for this fertiliser strategy, although we’d have to be careful not to get caught out without the second application of nitrogen if the wet season started early.”
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