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The cattle and beef industry has not acted on most of the recommendations made by the ACCC in 2017 to improve the transparency and efficiency of Australian cattle markets, according to a new review released by the ACCC.

Northern region grain growers are advised to take extra care with seed and fertiliser placement this year due to the dry sowing conditions.


Dry soils increase the risk of harm to germinating seeds by fertiliser, especially when it is placed too close to the seed or at rates that are too high.Agronomic authority Dr Rob Norton says growers need to be mindful of the soil conditions in their paddocks when applying fertiliser at sowing.
“The dry lead in to winter sowing in 2018 means last year’s strategy might not be safe this year,” says Rob Norton, the director of Norton Agronomic.
Rob Norton, who chairs the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s eXtensionAUS crop nutrition community of practice, encourages growers to use a seed damage calculator, available at goo.gl/NT8vmB, to check how much fertiliser they can apply with seed through the same chute.
The calculator doesn’t address fertiliser placed below or to the side of seed, but Dr Norton says separation of seed and fertiliser at around 3-5 centimetres is usually enough distance to protect the seed.
“The risk of fertiliser damage increases with drier and sandier soils,” Dr Norton says.
“Conditions that cause stress or slow germination prolongs fertiliser-seed contact, and this increases the chance of damage.”
Crop type is another factor, with canola and lentils being more sensitive, while wheat and barley are relatively tolerant.
“The order of sensitivity for crop species can vary for fertiliser type, but in general, the order from most to least sensitive in major grain crops is canola, followed by lentils, peas, oats, wheat and then barley.”
Fertilisers can affect germinating seeds in at least two ways, with the first relating to salt index.
Most fertilisers are salts and as such, too much fertiliser salt can ‘burn’ the seedling or stop seedlings from absorbing water.
Nitrogen and potassium fertilisers tend to have a higher salt index than phosphorus fertilisers. Sulphate forms tend to have lower salt indexes.
Ammonia formation potential is the second consideration.
Dr Norton says free ammonia can be toxic to seed: “Placing urea-containing fertilisers in-furrow is risky because they produce ammonia.
“A fertiliser with polymer coatings or urease inhibitors may slow the rate of ammonia production enough to protect seed.
These fertilisers are still considered risky to place near seeds.”In terms of placement, Dr Norton says the safe rate of fertiliser per hectare increases as row space narrows.
“Closer row spacing ‘dilutes’ fertiliser over the length of row.”
Machinery configuration, such as twin chuting systems which separate seed and fertiliser, can assist in protecting the seed.
Fertiliser is placed in bands to the side or below the seed bands, and separation of 3-5 cm is usually enough to protect seed.  
Cowra based Incitec Pivot technical agronomist Jim Laycock says the more scatter there is between seed and fertiliser, the more fertiliser can be safely applied.
“The concept of seed bed utilisation (SBU) addresses this factor. SBU is the proportion of row width occupied by seed row, and with anything less than 10 per cent, particularly in canola you may have a problem,” he says.
“It’s the seed row width divided by the tyne spacing or row width – the wider the seed row for a specific row width, the greater the SBU. As SBU increases so does the safe rate of in-furrow fertilisation.
“Most growers are aware of this, but given the amount of dry seeding happening, it can be worthwhile double checking your SBU levels.”
Tables for fertiliser/crop combination thresholds are available on the International Plant Nutrition Institute website at http://anz.ipni.net/article/ANZ-3074.
Rob Norton says the seed damage calculator includes several liquid fertilisers.
“As a general rule, use the same maximum nitrogen or phosphorus rates as for solid products, based on nutrient concentration.
“Treat urea/ammonium nitrate like urea. Treat ammoniated phosphoric acid the same as MAP,” he says.
More information on seed and fertiliser placement in dry soils is available on the eXtensionAus website at goo.gl/ZuYKPJ.


Growers are one step closer to accessing wheat varieties that can compete better against weeds, particularly herbicide resistant annual ryegrass. 

"It’s about building a place where farmers can help other farmers at a time that suits them, no matter where they live across Australia." The Farm Tables's Airlie Trescowthick at the launch of the Farmer Exchange in Holbrook NSW. The Farmer Exchange is one of the four key aspects of the Farm Table, it is a simple, yet vital solution for the agriculture industry to enable everyone to connect, grow and transfer knowledge. The Farmer Exchange will be a safe, friendly and dedicated space for farmers to connect, ask questions and share information. It will be easy to access and use from your phone, tablet or computer. The Farmer Exchange has been made possible thanks to the contribution from the Farming Together Program.
The May to July rainfall outlook, issued 26 April 2018, indicates below average rainfall is likely for parts of southwest Australia and western Victoria, but for much of the country there is little shift towards a wetter or drier than average period.
This short feature film is the story of how a pair of Australian cotton socks are made, from the field right through to the end product. It's told by the industry's characters, shot with beautiful clarity and is a must see for anyone interested in where their clothes come from.
Coleambally Irrigation is now one of the world’s most efficient open canal irrigation supply systems, saving 65 gigalitres per year, every year.
n integral part of Australia’s heritage, the wool industry is one which spans across generations and families. At the Merriman Shearing School in Brewarrina, NSW, one man is determined to keep tradition alive whilst also providing the students with an opportunity for a better future. Established in 2010 and sitting on a 16,000-hectare property, the Merriman Shearing School has changed the lives of more than 150 students, generally aged between 15 and 30. Owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation and supported by AWI, the school runs two 16-week courses each year, offering a Certificate Two in Rural Operations and aims to find jobs for young Indigenous Australians within the wool industry.
A new Meat & Livestock Australia project funded by grainfed levies is investigating automation of feed bunk management and has seen the development of a prototype sensor system to determine feed remaining in bunks.

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has downsized its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2017-18 season to 338 million kilograms greasy, a 0.6 per cent decline on the previous season and lower than its forecast at its December 2017 meeting.

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