BINNU farmer Don Nairn has no qualms about switching to using liquid nitrogen and lime.
In 2015 he purchased Liquid Systems’ GEN 4 Module to increase the amount of nitrogen available to his wheat, canola and lupin crops.
Since using the South Australian-made gear, he says he has increased yields and rectified soil pH levels on his 3000 hectare property.
“Accuracy is spot on with the module,” Don said.
“You can place nitrogen exactly where you want it, which means seed safety is good.
“It allows us to apply a lot more nitrogen up front and that takes the pressure off your compound fertiliser.
“I think it’s a lot easier to use than granulated and the bottom line is that we’ve seen a yield response, which while not huge, is a yield increase.”
Don, who is supported by his son Leigh, an agronomist for Landmark Northampton, has also seen a benefit to pH levels from adding liquid lime to the mix and expects to test a range of other liquid products in the future.
“Liquids are the way to go,” he said.
“I see lots of opportunities for expanding the use of our Liquid Systems equipment at seeding time and down the track we’ll look to apply different liquid products such as minerals, wetting agents and fungicides.”
Mixing Calbud, a liquid dolomite formulation with the liquid nitrogen, has allowed the Nairn family to address low pH on sandplain soils across nearly half of the property.
For the past two years, they have mixed four litres a hectare of the liquid lime Calbud with 40 to 50L/ha of UAN, a liquid nitrogen produced by Summit Fertilizers.
“Where we’re using Calbud on our farm, it seems to be addressing our pH problems really well,” Don said.
“We’ll be using a whole lot more this year.”
Leigh Nairn, who conducts soil tests across the property, reports that on areas of the farm with pH levels of 5.5 four years ago, the pH levels are 6 to 6.5, even up to 7.1.
“The benefit we’re getting and the rate of increase is purely because of liquid,” Leigh said.
The family is also impressed with the liquid lime’s ability to provide an immediate benefit to crops.
“It’s instant,” Don said.
“You don’t have to wait four or five years to get the benefit as you do with spreading lime.
“That’s particularly helpful if you’re leasing land.
If you’re not sure you’ll have the land for the long-term, liquid lime helps your crop in the same year.
“Plus, if you can put lime down when you seed, it can’t go anywhere; it can’t go into the air or get blown to your neighbour’s paddock.
“The only place it can go is to the root of the plant, so you’re a long way to addressing that problem straight away.”
With liquid lime’s tendency to settle, a reliable agitation system is critical during seeding.
In addition to the pump on Liquid Systems’ GEN 4 Module, the Nairn family added an agitation pump to the water truck they use to cart liquids.
It takes between five and 10 minutes to agitate the liquid before the solution is transferred to the air cart.
“Once it’s on board, the Liquid Systems pump makes sure it remains agitated,” Don said.
In addition to the GEN 4 Module, the Nairns purchased an old United States army truck, which allows them to cart 12,000L of liquid.
Re-filling is a quick and easy task, according to Don.
“One guy fills up the air seeder while another guy fills the liquid tank,” he said.
“It doesn’t take us any longer to fill up with liquid and because we’re putting a larger portion of nitrogen out as liquid, rather than compound fertiliser, it allows us to cover more hectares per tank.
“That means we’re not filling up as often.”
The Nairns, who operate a 15 metre (50ft) Primary Precision Seeder bar, plan to install a second GEN 4 module next seeding program.
The capacity to add an extra module, an option only offered by Liquid Systems, means the Nairns can apply several liquid products without worrying about chemical incompatibility.
“We’re keen to add two lines to the system, so we can pick and choose which products we use,” Leigh said.
Don has several products on his radar, including trace elements, seed treatment products, wetters and potassium-type products that will help in the treatment of disease, pests, nutritional deficiencies, non-wetting soil and frost.
He plans to use potassium acetate-type products such as Lokomotive, which is known to be seed safe and offer a lower salt alternative to the standard potassium chloride (MoP) fertilisers, to minimise frost risk on the farm’s sands.
Leigh also plans to use Syngenta’s Uniform, a seed treatment product, placed in and above furrow for the treatment of Rhizoctonia.
“Potassium citrates or acetates sometimes don’t mix all that well with UAN, so with a dual system from Liquid Systems we can split those applications,’’ he said.
“It will make it easier to place a lot of potassium down the tube.”
In his experience using Liquid System’s equipment, as an agronomist and farmer, Leigh is confident in the system’s capabilities and the back-up support.
“Liquid Systems provides the best knowledge and products on the market,” he said. “The company’s development team are second to none and the use of only high quality componentry makes them clear leaders in the field of liquid injection.
“We have found the Liquid Systems equipment to be superior in delivery of product at a constant and correct rate.
“That’s something which is vital when you’re spending a lot of dollars on products and for the time and effort we put into growing the best crops we can.”