Can advances in climate forecasts improve the productive and environmental outcomes from nitrogen fertilizer on wheat?

Peter Hayman - "SARDI "

Type: Conference Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Interesting look at the different models available to determine an outcome, in this case APSIM v POAMA.

What is the problem?

• The use of Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is a major source of yield and profit for Australian grain farmers.
• N fertilizer represents a significant cost and hence a source of risk when crop demand is less than expected.
• N fertilizer can be a pollutant through losses as runoff and leaching

What did the research involve?

Using APSIM to compare the profit and risk (economic and environmental) for a farmer in the medium rainfall zone of SA who applied the same amount N to wheat every year with a farmer that was guided by POAMA to tactically change rates.

What were the key findings?

  • Over the 30 year period from 1981 to 2010 a farmer following POAMA would have received the correct guidance 19 times and incorrect guidance 11 times.
  • Depending on the amount of N used, following POAMA increased the gross margin by $23 or 9%.
  • Forecasts didn’t reduce the risk of nitrous oxide emissions or N leaching.
  • Under the assumptions of this simulation study, the most economically sound N strategies come from a focus on fertilizer N use efficiency which keeps rates at levels where losses to de-nitrification or leaching are minimal.

Final comment

Considering the marginal economic response will focus attention on the most efficient use of N. This will have the side benefit of reducing the chance of excess N increasing environmental risk.

2015 - Australia - Peter Hayman - "SARDI "
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