Ashley Wallace1, Audrey Delahunty2, James Nuttall1
1 Agriculture Victoria, 110 Natimuk Rd, Horsham, Victoria, 3400, firstname.lastname@example.org,
2 Agriculture Victoria, Cnr Eleventh St & Koorlong Ave, Irymple, Victoria 3498
Nitrogen (N) fertiliser is a key input to modern Australian cropping systems, however the efficiency with which it is utilised by crops varies significantly; in part due to competition from loss and immobilisation mechanisms. One option to address this is the use of mid-row banding (MRB), where N is applied in concentrated bands between every second pair of crop rows, potentially reducing N loss and slowing crop access to applied N thereby improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and productivity. In 2018 two field trials were established in Victoria to assess the utility of mid-row banding N to wheat and canola at sowing compared with other methods including banding below the seed and surface application post sowing. Nitrogen was applied as urea either in solution or granular at rates of 25 and 50kg N/ha. Banding N either below the seed or mid-row increased grain yield of wheat (9 to 16%) and canola (2 to 7%) compared with surface application. This was associated with significant increases in crop recovery of fertiliser N, and reduced fertiliser loss (up to 40%). Mid-row banding also showed potential to increase grain protein (2 to 7%) in wheat compared with all other methods of application. These results suggest that applying N fertiliser by mid-row banding may have scope for improving NUE of dryland crops in similar environments.