Whether this year’s winter crop is coming off as fodder now or grain in the coming weeks and months, significant levels of nutrients will be removed from the paddock.

Canola can be very profitable for grain growers, but is also considered a riskier and more expensive crop to grow, with seed and fertiliser representing two of the major input costs.

Incitec Pivot Fertilisers has conducted several nitrogen trials in grain crops in the Victorian Mallee since 2013.

It has long been noted that canola needs sulphur, but with 56 canola varieties available in 2017 and more on the way this year, the question is do they all need the same amount of sulphur?

Given what’s invested in growing crops these days, growers can ill-afford to risk reduced yields due to trace element deficiencies.

We all know the importance of soil testing and the valuable data it can provide for fertiliser and soil amendment recommendations.

With topdressing now under way in many cereal and canola crops, it is timely to revisit the nitrogen topdressing decision tools and fundamentals so that what is left of the season can be managed effectively.

Topdressing nitrogen can be difficult to get right with respect to timing and rate. Given that nitrogen is the biggest barrier to yield (except for moisture), it requires careful planning and management.

In reviewing the results from our nitrogen trial in a grain and graze system at Millvale in New South Wales, it is clear these crops need special treatment to perform to their best.

A series of nutrient trials conducted in high rainfall cropping zones in 2016 is showing high levels of nutrient removal with high yields. Lead researcher on the project, Dr Malcolm McCaskill, Soil Research Scientist with DEDJTR Victoria, shares a preview of the results with Agronomy Community members and asks: what will it take to restore soil fertility for 2017?

Early indications suggest many cropping systems are running low on nitrogen and will need significant applications of fertiliser before mid-winter to support yield and quality targets this season. Incitec Pivot Fertilisers is encouraging growers to check, plan and act for crop productivity this season.

This summer I’ve invested some time collecting grain and soil test data from out in the paddock to investigate nutrient budgeting with real nutrient removal figures, not just averages.