Growing more with less: Government funds improved nitrogen efficiency R&D (11 May 2016)

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A project aimed at improving the efficient use of nitrogen in the irrigated cotton, dairy, cherry, mango and sugar industries has today been announced as one of the successful Rural R&D for Profit programme projects by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, in the second round of the programme.

The project, More profit from nitrogen, is a partnership between the major nitrogen-using industries of cotton, dairy, sugar and horticulture, led by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) in conjunction with fellow rural research and development corporations (RDCs) Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia and Horticulture Innovation Australia and 15 other research partners.

The project aims to improve the nitrogen productivity of 600 irrigated cotton growers; the profit of 500 dairy farmers; the yield of sugar growers; and the yield, fruit quality, storage and packout for 400 Australian cherry and 650 mango growers. It will also help all four industries to mitigate the extent and impact of off-farm nutrients on water quality.

CRDC Executive Director Bruce Finney welcomed the announcement of today’s funding, which will see up to $5.8 million directed from the Rural R&D for Profit programme to this project. 

“Optimising nutrition is essential for maximising yield and profit – be it in cotton, dairy, horticulture or sugar. Too little nutrition will reduce yield potential, while too much can impact growers’ profitability through increased costs, contamination of groundwater, excessive vegetation growth and related insect and disease problems. And, too much nitrogen also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and adds to the carbon footprint of all of our industries,” Bruce said.

“As a result, CRDC and our fellow RDCs and research partners have collaborated on this project, which is designed to enhance the use of nitrogen in our intensive cropping and pasture systems.

“Through this joint project, growers will gain a better understanding of the various influences on nitrogen use efficiency and improved confidence to adopt management practices tailored to their specific crop requirements – thus optimising nitrogen use efficiency, and their profits.

“Importantly, there is also a strong sustainability component of this project, as more efficient use and management of nitrogen across all of our industries also has significant natural resource benefits – improving soil health, reducing leaching and run-off to creeks and rivers, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This project will deliver a win-win scenario for both growers and our environment,” Bruce said.

The More profit from nitrogen project will run until 2020. It follows the CRDC-led Smarter irrigation for profit project, which was announced under the first round of the Rural R&D for Profit programme in 2015.  

Pictured (LtoR): Cotton Australia director Bob Dall'Alba, CRDC Chair Dr Mary Corbett, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Cotton Australia director Stuart Armitage, and CRDC Executive Director Bruce Finney at today's announcement at Dalby.