Variable rate lime for cropping systems in the HRZ: an economic analysis

Kirsten Barlow1, Kerry Stott2, Sebastian Ie1

1 Precision Agriculture, 113 Main Street, Rutherglen, Vic, 3685, www.precisionagriculture.com.au, k.barlow@precisionagriculture.com.au  

2 Agriculture Victoria Research, AgriBio, 5 Ring Road, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic, 3083

Abstract

Soil acidity affects 50% of Australia’s agricultural land and significantly affects crop production. Results from grid soil sampling (0-10 cm) for pHCa across hundreds of cropping paddocks in the high rainfall zone (HRZ) in Victoria highlight the variability in soil pH across a paddock, where the coefficient of variation averaged 4.7% and ranged from 0.7 up to 16%. The range in soil pH and the coefficient of variation from the field data were used to develop eight hypothetical paddocks. A discounted cash flow model was used investigate the economics of grid soil mapping and variable rate lime application to ameliorate surface soil acidity. Both variable rate and fixed rate lime addition had a positive net present value (NPV) across the hypothetical scenarios, with the inclusion of a pH-sensitive pulse crop increasing the NPV. With a pulse crop in the rotation, variable rate lime had a greater NPV in six of the eight hypothetical paddocks, while in the remaining two paddocks variable rate and fixed rate applications produced similar NPV results.

Host

The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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