Ginger yield up 20% from new fertilization method

Ginger growers in Australia have seen yields increase and labour costs fall following a trial in new fertilization techniques. “Ginger previously utilised overhead fertigation to provide the nutrient requirement for the crop, which is an overhead sprinkler system linked to a fertiliser tank and pump,” says Zane Nicholls, the Development Horticulturalist with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in charge of the trials. “We knew it wasn’t the most efficient means of supplying nutrient, and we knew controlled release fertilisers had been successful for other crops.”
 
Mr Nicholls confirmed that in some cases yields increased by as much as 25%, and an average of 15-20%, using the one-off, controlled release fertiliser. As ginger is considered a high value crop, strawberries are also, any way to reduce fertilization costs is sought after by growers and industry. The method also saves labour as there is no need for someone to mix the fertiliser before it is applied using the new method.
 
While the technology has also been trialled on strawberries, and resulted in some savings of labour costs, the yield increase was not as impressive. Mr Nicholls says that some strawberry growers do still prefer controlled release fertilisers, however he doesn’t anticipate widespread use for strawberries yet. “If there isn’t enough of a financial incentive to change your nutrient program why fix something that isn’t broken?”
 
The market price of ginger has not shown any major change since news of the trial, and Mr Nicholls is aware of the various factors that can influence price for growers. “We must not forget that farming is a hard business and environmental factors affect yearly tonnage harvest rates, so good years often follow average or poor years, he says. 

The 100% nine month controlled release nitrogen fertiliser was located in the USA by Rob Abbas, the agronomist for the Department’s project partner the Australian Ginger Industry Association.

For more information
Zane nicholls, Development Horticulturalist
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QLD)
Phone: +61754935967


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