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Fertiliser trial showing promise for pineapple growers in AUA trial of a specially developed slow release fertiliser is impressing pineapple farmers on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Robert Frizzo is happy one year into the trial of the fertiliser that was applied to a field of 73-50 hybrid pineapples, the second most popular variety in the world.
"We normally side dress with fertiliser [adding it next to the stem] after the pineapples are planted, and wait for rain for the nutrients to react with the soil and grow the pineapples," he said. "The problem with normal fertiliser practice is that if you have a very large storm you can lose a lot of your nutrients through leaching, so with the slow release trial they're figuring that you don't lose the nutrients through leaching, so saving the environment and saving the cost to the farmer.''
"Visually the plants that have got the slow release fertiliser are definitely bigger and better and bulkier and greener, and that in itself is exciting, and hopefully it's reflected in the crop that is picked later on."
Mr Frizzo said if the fertiliser was effective it could be utilised to save application rates.
"You can perhaps put out a larger amount and have it work for a longer time," he said.
"Instead of having two passes you might be able to do one pass, and then the other cost benefit is for the same amount of nutrient you get more bang for your buck. Everybody needs to take in every bit of information they can to make decisions on their own farm. A lot has to do with the economics, what the cost is, the cost savings, the cost benefit and those ratio analysis."
Agronomist Jade King, from the Coochin Creek Fruit Growers cooperative, specially developed the slow release fertiliser for the trial.
"What I had to do was try and find a fertiliser that entirely coated the nitrogen with the polymer to make sure it was slow release," she said. "I then wanted to match the blends that the farmers were using themselves."
Ms King said she had been motivated by talk of new regulation being placed on Australia's pineapple industry.
"Over in the United States and in the sugar cane industry they are dictated to as to how much fertiliser they can use," she said.
"We don't want to see our farmers subjected to that. We want our farmers to be able to operate productively, yet in the guidelines of sustainability. So to do that we're going to have to make sure that they're not regulated, and that they practice efficient use of fertiliser to reduce nitrogen run-off into the Pumicestone Passage."
Publication date: 8/11/2017
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