Territory Stories

Katherine rural review



Katherine rural review


Northern Territory. Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries


Katherine rural review; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Katherine rural review






Date:2012-11; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Agriculture; Northern Territory; Katherine; Periodicals; Animal industry; Rural industries; Periodicals

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Northern Territory Government

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Katherine rural review


no. 311

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Northern Territory Government



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Page 5 of 20 Katherine Rural Review, Issue 311 Action on the Ground needed to reduce nitrogen losses Urea prices hit $2000/tonne.. Okay, urea prices arent really at $2000/tonne, but if we are inefficient in our application of nitrogen fertilisers, such as urea, it has been shown that we can lose up to 50% of applied nitrogen, especially in warm, humid conditions such as occur at the start of our Wet Season. This means we are effectively halving the amount of nitrogen available to the crop. Using this logic, then the value of urea at $1000/tonne effectively doubles! What happens after I apply nitrogen fertiliser? Several processes can occur; nitrogen can be lost to the atmosphere as ammonia gas (NH3) through volatilisation (bad!); nitrogen can be converted in the soil to ammonium (NH4) this is a form available for plant root uptake (good!); nitrogen can then be converted in the soil from ammonium to nitrate (NO3) another form suitable for plant uptake (good!). However, nitrogen in the nitrate form is then susceptible to loss through leaching (bad!), or loss through conversion to gases, such as nitrous oxide (bad!). Why is nitrous oxide important? The conversion of nitrate to the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide (N20), occurs through a bacteriadependent process called denitrification, which occurs in warm anaerobic (water-logged) conditions. This gas is then released into the atmosphere, which has serious implications for increasing global warming. Nitrous oxide has 300 times the global warming capacity of carbon dioxide (CO2), and agriculture is seen as one of the main sources of this gas due to its dependence on nitrogen fertiliser use. For this reason, reducing emission of nitrous oxide is one of the key targets of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Carbon Farming Futures (CFF) Program. Other priorities of the CFF Program include reducing methane emissions (another greenhouse gas) and increasing carbon stored in soil (to reduce CO2 release into atmosphere). The NT DPIF has been successful in obtaining funding through the Carbon Farming Futures Action on the Ground Program (http://www.daff.gov.au/climatechange/carbonfarmingfutures/actionon-the-ground ) with the aim to evaluate NT farming practices in hay, vegetable and melon industries which can reduce nitrous oxide emissions into the atmosphere. The potential for using green manure/cover crops and legume crops to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil will also be assessed. Action on the Ground Most Katherine growers whether vegies, melons, mangoes or hay, will probably say they have just finished a couple of months of significant action on the ground and may be enjoying a bit of a break over the festive season. However, NT DPIF and DAFF also consider Action on the Ground as a funding opportunity to provide major outcomes for Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through improved nitrogen management on NT Farms. Katherine Research Station will be the base of the initial phase of the Hay component of this project. Six nitrogen treatments will be applied to a Sabi grass pasture at the commencement of the 2012-13 wet season. These treatments are: Treatments: A. 80 kg/ha Urea (46:0:0 = 37 units N) B. 160 kg/ha Urea (74 units N) C. 80 kg/ha Entec urea (Incitec, DMPP ammonium stabiliser/nitrification inhibitor) D. 80 kg/ha N-Serve treated urea (with Nitrapyrin) E. Untreated control F. 185 kg/ha Sulphate of Ammonia (Gran-Am20:0:0:24 = 37 units N)