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TSL AG Story

9/July/2021

A recent grower meeting held in the Murray was a great success, with more than 40 growers attending to hear from a range of industry people and develop knowledge around soil health.

This meeting was timely leading up to planting and was held in Steve Crema’s shed in the Murray.

Dr Danielle Skojac of SRA and Alex Lindsey of CANEGROWERS ran the day, with industry topics presented by the following people:

  1. ‘Importance of soil testing’ – a presentation developed by Peter Sutherland, TCPSL, but delivered by Alex Lindsay of CANEGROWERS, on the importance of soil testing
  2. ‘The Value of leaf sampling’ presented by Alex Lindsay, CANEGROWERS
  3. ‘Calcium and mill by-product grower trials’ – Greg Shannon, TSL with an update on the various trails that have been undertaken in the Tully region since 2013
  4. ‘Identifying block variability and calcium rate trial’ – Marcus Bulstrode, DAF
  5. ‘SIX EASY STEPS Toolbox grower trials’ – Danielle Skocaj, SRA
  6. Peter Lucy – ‘RT 7 Murray cane project introduction’ 
  7. Deb Bass – ‘RT 7 Fish homes and highways project update’

The meeting also involved several growers presenting their own  experiences with on-farm trials.

With the range of speakers and the interaction between growers, a lot was learned on the day.

One of the key messages was the need for growers to soil test and seek assistance for developing nutrient management plans.

As harvesting progresses, it is timely to start thinking about soil sampling blocks that are going to be fallowed. With the recent wet conditions, some plough out blocks have had to be harvested early and these can be soil tested soon as an option, instead of waiting until later in the year.

Recently harvested blocks are easily accessible so this can be one reason for sampling soon, but also once a crop is harvested, the level of nutrition in the soil is  going to be at its lowest and will give an accurate assessment of what the next crop will require.

Sampling sometime in late July or August also gives everyone plenty of time to get things done on time. The turnaround time for a soil sample to be processed is around 3 weeks and will provide recommendations for lime or magnesium, any drainage work, and the application of the ameliorants during the dry period. Sampling over the next few months means the results will be back this year and avoids a rush later.

The calcium work that was discussed on the day is an ongoing programme run by TSL to look at certain varieties that seem to struggle after 3rd ratoon. The two main varieties on which TSL have worked are Q200 and Q250, and both have shown a tendency to “drop away” going into 3rd ratoon. The theory is that these varieties have quite small root systems, which struggle to access moisture and some nutrients, like calcium and magnesium as the crop ages. 

Three sites have been treated with different types of Calcium and magnesium products and these will be assessed in this year’s harvest.

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