Better crops with fluid fertilizer at Deniliquin

Michael Hughes, of Deniliquin, NSW, is achieving better crops with regular applications of fluid fertilizer on his irrigated crops.

The introduction of fluid fertilizer on the irrigation property of Michael Hughes, at Deniliquin in southern New South Wales, over the past four years has led to better crops.

Mr Hughes said they had been using products supplied by SLTEC® in bulk for in-crop nutrition and it had been working particularly well.

“I think our crops definitely look better,” he said.   “There is a better uniformity and consistency throughout the season.  You are not getting a variation in colour.”

The main fluid fertilizer used is SLTEC®’s Nitro QUAD 3™ which is a blend of nitrogen in three forms and QuadSHOT®.

“It has been a good transition for us,” Mr Hughes said.  “There is uniformity of application, ease of application and good service.  We like the product.  Economically and agronomically it stacks up well.”

Before the change to fluid fertilizer, granular options were used and applied three times across the life of the crop.

“Now we are giving our cereals up to five applications of nitrogen plus what we put upfront.  We are just finding that some smaller, regular applications of nitrogen are probably giving us some better yield gains or better economic benefits.”

The fertilizer applications are often combined with other products such as herbicides and have worked well.

“The compatibility is very good. We’ve had negligible problems with compatibility with our herbicides.”

Mr Hughes said there was also some evidence that the fluid fertilizer, combined with their other agronomic practices, was helping improve their soils.

We’ve noticed, anecdotally, the soil health has changed fairly dramatically,” he said.   “I just think it is a balance, potentially a balance between the good bugs and the bad bugs.  It’s probably a combination of things.  Smarter use of the soil, less invasive techniques, minimum or no till where possible, but our earthworm content or quantities have grown dramatically in the last two or three years.”

He said the QuadSHOT® component of Nitro QUAD 3™ contained fish emulsion, humic acid, kelp and molasses which had a beneficial effect on their soils.

“It is just one of the many things we are doing that is improving soil health but I definitely think the Nitro QUAD 3™ has got a fair say in what is happening in the soil.  Once you use it over a significant period of time, the benefits, as a food source to the microbes in the soil, become relevant.”

The fluid fertilizer is available via two SLTEC® 32,000 litre tanks located in the centre of the farm, where the herbicide mixing occurs, and are filled when required.

“I think service is important,” Mr Hughes said. “The service has been great.  SLTEC® is supplying their own tanks for our needs here.  It is good.  The whole system just seems to work quite well for us.”

“The product seems quite stable and you can carry a bit of product from one season to the next if you need to.”

He said the catalyst for moving to fluid fertilizer a number of years ago was the purchase of a boom spray that was compatible with the product.

“I know a lot of contractors, prior to having my own boom spray, that were reluctant to use the fluid ferts,” he said.  “UAN on its own was corrosive and hard on both the machine and the operator.”

“I do find the SLTEC product to be very good.  It is pretty soft.  There is still an element of safety that you need but it doesn’t seem to have the harshness on the machines, like the crude UAN did.”

As well as using Nitro QUAD 3™ on winter cereals, Mr Hughes also used it on a corn crop grown for silage this season.

The crop had urea up-front and all post sowing applications have been Nitro QUAD 3™ water-run as part of the irrigation schedule.

“The fluid fertilizer has made it, from an application point of view, fairly simple and fairly easy to calibrate with a reasonable degree of accuracy, as opposed to having some sort of dedicated product for handling your granular products,” Mr Hughes said.