Build your soil health to maximise fertiliser returns - Elders Rural Services

Build your soil health to maximise fertiliser returns

Australian growers invest significant sums on nutrition for their crops each year.

With current record fertiliser prices, even more consideration is being given to rates applied and ways to maximise nutrient use efficiency. More than ever, a focus on soil health will reap financial benefits by helping crops to achieve their potential.

Healthy soil includes the presence of a strong network of mycorrhizal fungi that help to ensure that the uptake and productivity gained from soil nutrition is maximised. Mycorrhizae, commonly referred to as AMF (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) are naturally occurring beneficial fungi that work with the majority of crop species (canola and other brassica crops excluded) in a symbiotic relationship to improve nutrient and moisture uptake, resilience against plant stresses and overall plant and soil health.

AMF are known for their ability to help plants forage for and take up key soil nutrients. They are particularly beneficial in helping plants access immobile nutrients like phosphorus and zinc, but studies have also shown significant benefits with nitrogen uptake. AMF improve uptake by extending the area where plants can access within the soil, creating extensive networks of fungal hyphae that go well beyond where the roots of the plants can access and then absorb and channel the nutrients and moisture back to the plant. The AMF in exchange receive carbohydrates from the plant for their own growth, a true symbiotic relationship.

Modern farming practices often lead to low levels of AMF in soils. Growing canola, fallowing fields and mechanical cultivation can significantly reduce beneficial AMF levels leaving crops unable to realise their full potential. AMF can be built up naturally through cover cropping, reduced fallow duration and opting not to grow non-mycorrhizal crops like canola. Sumitomo AgroSolutions has been working to develop a range of mycorrhizae inoculants that can ensure AMF levels are adequate in a similar way to how legume crops are inoculated with rhizobium at planting.

Until recently, the technology to produce high quality, concentrated, easy to use and cost-effective mycorrhizae inoculants hasn’t been available.

Sumitomo AgroSolutions, over recent years has focused efforts into producing high quality, highly useable and affordable mycorrhizae inoculants for use in a range of crops. Sumitomo brings considerable experience with biological products; they were the first company to develop Bt insecticides with brands including DiPel and XenTari.

Elders and Sumitomo have conducted trials with the new range of AMF inoculants over the past two years. Further demonstration trials are planned in the 2022 growing season. Significant gains have been observed with improved yields and quality across both horticultural and broadacre crops.

With the winter crop season approaching and everyone subject to skyrocketing fertiliser prices, it is the ideal time to learn more and try the new Sumitomo inoculants. For broadacre grain crops the ideal formulation is a highly concentrated liquid inoculant that can be applied to seed or as an in-furrow soil treatment. Contact your Elders agronomist and ask about EndoFuse to maximise your crop nutrient uptake efficiency, particularly if you have country likely to be low in AMF where canola was grown in 2021 or where a full disturbance cultivation has been performed.

EndoFuse field trials

Over the past three years many trials have been conducted to observe EndoFuse performance in a range of locations, crops and soils. Results have been most significant where AMF levels have been assessed as low – such as following canola – with barley grown post-canola recording consistent yield increases of up to 8.5 per cent and a sixfold return on investment per ha. Grain legumes have also shown excellent responses, particularly when double inoculated with both AMF and rhizobium together.A recent faba bean trial in Victoria showed a yield improvement of 8.1 pc. The picture below from NSW DPI researcher Tendo Mukasa Mugerwa shows a pot trial he conducted in 2021 with chickpeas.. The highly complementary response with rhizobium and AMF inoculated together in legumes has also recently been observed in faba beans, mungbeans and sub clover.

Pot trial using EndoFuse on chickpeas.

Article written by Sumitomo for Seasons magazine. 

EndoFuse is now available from your local Elders store.

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