GrainsWest Winter 2020

Winter 2020 Grains West 30 T Practical cost cutters and profit boosters for difficult economic times FEATURE RETHINKING SOIL SAMPLING A proponent of multiple-depth soil sam- pling, Jack Payne is a crop supplies re- gional grow team advisor with Federat- ed Co-operatives. He said there are two economically beneficial reasons to go beyond single-depth sampling of the first six inches of soil. “Firstly, single-depth samples can un- derestimate leached nitrate and sulphate levels in the soil,” he said. “If these are overlooked, a grower could find them- selves over-applying nitrogen.” As well as not meeting 4R nutrient stewardship guidelines, in barley, the result can be lodging and protein levels that are too high for malting grades. “Secondly, single-depth sampling can overlook hidden salinity,” said Payne. “This is salinity that is not visible as crusting at the soil surface. In the case of over-ferti- lizing, it could save a grower in the range of $25 per acre or more depending on fertilizer prices.” he tight farm financial picture that has evolved over the last three crop years has many farmers adjusting capital, operational and agronomic practices. The aim is to push up the profit margin while cutting costs. GrainsWest spoke with three agricultural advisors about such dollar-saving tactics.