GRAIN growers attending upcoming events in the Geraldton port zone will learn about new research that aims to generate information that can provide growers with better guidelines for using potassium (K) more strategically and profitably.
Murdoch University researcher Richard Bell will address the topic ‘Managing and measuring potassium in a year like this’ at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Open Forums scheduled for Morawa and Geraldton on Thursday, August 23.
These events, co-ordinated through the GRDC’s Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) initiative, are part of 15 GRDC Open Forums being held in July and August throughout the grainbelt.
Growers attending the forums can express their ideas, hear where GRDC investment is occurring, talk with researchers leading local RCSN projects and speak with GRDC Western Regional Panel members and RCSN representatives.
Professor Bell said fertilisers were one of the highest variable costs for WA grain growers and, due to changes in climate and farming systems in recent years, current scientific knowledge that drives potassium fertiliser management decisions needs to be updated.
“Potassium supply is critical for optimal plant growth and development, from early growth through to grain development,” professor Bell said.
“Adequate K allows the plant to use water more efficiently, increasing the vigour of the plant. Importantly, K also contributes to the synthesis of both protein and starch in grain, influencing grain filling and quality.”
Professor Bell said potassium research was part of three WA soils and crop nutrition research projects, worth $14.6 million, that were announced earlier this year – involving a GRDC partnership with multiple organisations from the public and private sectors.
The research is part of one of the projects – worth $9.7m across five years – which is investigating soil nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium supply to crops, with a focus on providing a better understanding of fertiliser requirements.
This project is being led The University of WA (UWA) – through the SoilsWest alliance with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development – and Murdoch University and the University of Adelaide, with involvement from other grains industry stakeholders.