Growing Crops

Nearly all you need to know

Dalglish-IMG_5363-300x200Whether you're growing summer or winter crops, irrigated or dryland (broadacre), there are challenges unique to each segment, while many similar challenges also exist.

BioAg has developed strategies, programs and products that cater for each of these segments through extensive research, crop trials, and on-farm demonstrations. We have built our programs using a combination of best-practices, supplemented with traditional and biologically enhanced inputs.

As with all of our programs, we look to enhance the soils' health and fertility as a key strategy to developing more intensive cropping for the farmer.

It is equally important to address the specific needs of a crop, as it it to address the challenges posed during each season. For those reasons, BioAg cropping programs are tailored to suit each individual farm and paddock.

Our programs will complement any previous programs on a paddock, and provide the added benefit of unlocking previously applied nutrients. This can save the farmer both time and money.

We deliver cropping solutions to conventional or traditional farmers, irrigated or broadacre, through to certified organic farming.

A program will usually consist of a mix of BioAg natural fertilisers, soil inoculants, foliars, micro-nutrients, and some traditional inputs.

The end result is better soils, and better crops.

Our crop nutrition approach

Feeding the crop while increasing the soils' fertility

BioAg have achieved independent and replicated crop trial results over a 5-year period that consistently deliver greater than 20% yield increases over the district standard practices.

How have we done this? By recognising that the health of the soil is as important as it is to deliver nutrient to the crop.

Crop germination and establishment; nutrient and moisture retention and delivery; crop resistance to extreme temperatures, pests and disease; and crop quality and yield, are all heavily influenced by the soil and the complex biological systems they house.

A dependence on chemical fertilisers alone is addressing the nutrient needs of the crop, while depleting the soils biological reserves and ultimately its ability to service the crop to its maximum ability.

Corn-trial-imageBy feeding those biological systems at the same time as we are feeding the crop, over time we are increasing the soils fertility, leaving it in better shape at the end of a season than it was at the start. 

A BioAg cropping program, besides providing a source of plant-available nutrients (particularly phosphate and calcium) also delivers a complexed food supply to the soil and crop.

This food supply includes a range of nutrients and vitamins including sulphur, magnesium, potassium, trace elements (iron, zinc, copper, boron, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, nickel, selenium, sodium, chlorine), vitamins, and amino acids.

With continued use, the biological systems within the soil become more self sustaining,

BioAg customers notice visible differences in the health of their soils and crops, while the biological systems within the soil are becoming more self sustaining:

  • Balanced, fertile, productive soils
  • Improved soil structure, water infiltration and retention
  • Reduced stubble retention problems
  • Improved germination and crop establishment
  • Reduced weed competition and crop disease
  • Improved populations of beneficial insects
  • Improved resistance to insects, disease and climatic extremes
  • Higher quality yields
  • Improved efficiency and profitability

Our customers also obtain greater gross margins through fewer inputs of conventional fertilisers and pesticides, fewer passes across the paddock in the tractor, and greater fuel efficiency during tillage as the soil is easier to work.

The bottom line is increased yield and quality in cropping enterprises.

Programs

Summer, Winter, Irrigated, or Broadacre (Dryland) Cropping Programs

Our programs are tailored to your individual needs and circumstances, and take into account key aspects of your situation such as paddock history, available resources, rotation plans and soil test results.

Based on research and trial work, our programs typically use a mix of biologically activated as well as conventional fertiliers and inputs.

As an indication, you can follow the links below to view typical cropping programs.

Stress resistance

Pests, disease, and environmental stress resistance

A healthy plant will have inherit greater resistance to pests and disease than an unhealthy one.

Concurrently a healthy and correclty functioning soil system will help deliver additional resistances to environmental stresses (such as those experienced on extremely hot or cold days) by the efficient retention and delivery of plant-available nutrients and moisture.

A key goal of all BioAg cropping programs is to deliver these resistances to the crop. This is achieved by:

  • Building the soils' health and fertility
  • Delivering the right nutrient, in the right amount, at the right time
  • Delivering a range of complex food sources to the soil prior to sewing
  • Delivering complexed food sources to the crop during its stages of growth

Nutrients

Strategies to increase farm fertility

Our programs have been developed to target three key areas of from productivity:

  • Increased yield
  • Increased quality
  • Increased soil fertility

Besides providing a source of plant-available nutrients, particularly phosphate and calcium, BioAg products increase the soils' microbial mass and diversity, by delivering a complex food supply directly to the “foodweb”.

Our products also incorporate a range of other nutrients and vitamins including sulphur, magnesium, potassium, trace elements (iron, zinc, copper, boron, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, nickel, selenium) and vitamins for efficient nutrition.

Once the biological system becomes self-sustaining, producers will begin to notice a visible difference in the health of their soils and crops:

  • Balanced, fertile, productive soils
  • Improved soil structure, water infiltration and retention
  • Reduced stubble retention problems.
  • Improved germination and crop establishment
  • Reduced weed competition and crop disease
  • Improved populations of beneficial insects
  • Improved resistance to insects, disease and climatic extremes
  • Higher quality crops and pastures
  • Healthier, more productive livestock
  • Improved efficiency and profitability

Our customers also obtain greater gross margins through fewer inputs of conventional fertilisers and pesticides, fewer passes across the paddock in the tractor and greater fuel efficiency during tillage as the soil is easier to work.

The bottom line is increased yield and quality in cropping and horticultural situations, and increased growth rates, fertility and animal health in grazing enterprises.

Winter Cropping

Adding Growth

Comparing the two winter crops, wheat and canola, shows us that we face similar challenges to increasing quality and yield across all crop types.

4-6 weeks after sewing the yield potential of all crops is already being influenced, meaning the types of nutrients we choose to apply prior to or at sewing are crucial.

Wheat

Before harvest, wheat needs to achieve biomass growth focused on promotion of tillering, stem production, head elongation, sustained flowering, enhanced grain fill, and higher protein content.

Initial root growth is driven by nutrient absorption from the soil. In all cereals, the extent of secondary root growth determines the plant’s ability to deliver yield and finish grains post-tillering.

Canola

Prior to grain fill and oil production in canola, the plant undergoes biomass accumulation through the vegetative stage and into the cabbaging-stage. This needs to occur before branching and flowering in order to produce and sustain pods in the reproductive phase.

Like all crops, initial root growth is driven by nutrient absorption from the soil. Canola plants achieve maximum biomass during the cabbaging stage, and following this start to elongate and branch.

The negative effects of Winter

Vegetative growth (plant leaves) are essentially “solar panels” for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis assists in the production of the energy (carbohydrates) that the plant requires to combat stress and drive growth.

Environmental stresses occurring from mid May onwards (e.g. water logging, cold weather, lack of sunlight, and frosts) slow plant processes such as photosynthesis. Less vegetative growth occurs, less energy is captured, and therefore fewer carbohydrates are produced in the plant.

This reduces the future potential yield, meaning supporting plant growth early on is crucial to delivering improved final yields.

How to minimise the negative effects of the colder months

Soil Conditioning

The condition of the soil is to a large extent determined by the health of the biological systems it contains. This will determine how effective the soil is at acting as a nutrient reservoir, and how effectively nutrients are supplied to the crop. 

Over the colder winter months, the biological systems in both the soil and the plant are exposed to the same negative conditions.

Within the soil, the biological systems are attempting to cycle nutrients, harness energy to produce carbohydrates, and convert resources such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and root exudates into usable forms for the plant.

Winter stresses slow these biological actions, leading to less growth. The options to the grower at this time are to wait until environmental conditions improve, or attempt to stimulate growth by feeding the crop additional nutrients.

Taking steps to condition the soil prior to/at sowing feeds and develops the biological systems that will ultimately support and determine winter growth.

Soil conditioning improves water infiltration, root depth, the crops access to nutrients and water use efficiency.

Waiting too long into the season to condition your soil can mean it occurs too late.

Working from soil tests taken before sowing, BioAg consultants recommend those products required (be it BioAgPhos, lime, gypsum or others) to build long-term improvements in soil condition for both winter and summer crops.

Once the crop is sown and the weather turns cold, the improved soil condition can then support improved plant growth.

Foliar Feeding

Throughout the growth stages of a crop, and during colder months, consider feeding foliar nutrients and other complexed food sources.

BioAg’s Balance & Grow provides both the plant and the soil with the appropriate nutrients to stimulate and support the biological systems that deliver growth including calcium, phosphate, a range of enzymes, and microbial foods.

When applied as a foliar application in conjunction with a nitrogen product (such as UAN or calcium nitrate) the plant has improved access to the nutrients it requires, delivering improved growth and helping to fight stresses that may reduce yield.

Winter Cropping Summary

Supporting your crops early growth during the stresses of winter is an important factor in delivering improved yields.

Soil condition plays an important early role, while nutrient supply and sustaining the biological systems in both the plant and soil will improve winter growth and the plants ability to combat stresses.

Improved vegetative growth through winter will set your cereal or canola crop up for improved yields at harvest.

Organic

Growing Organic Crops

registered_farm_input-BioAgWe are also able to develop cropping programs approved for use by organic croppers. BioAg manufacture a number of products that are certified for use in organic systems (certifcation number 221 via Australian Organics).

Cotton

5 years of trials

BioAg's cotton programs includes a soil inlculant, a vegetative foliar, and a fruiting foliar.

Over a 5 year period (2013-2017), these 3 liquids have been trialled on cotton as part of an independent and replicated field trial conducted by Agricenter International.

These products, Soil & Seed, Balance & Grow, and Fruit & Balance were used on top of the district standard practice for cotton.

Results:

  • The BioAg program increased cotton yield in all years.
  • The largest increases were experienced when growing conditions for the season were average.

Read a summary of the 5-year cotton trial here.