7 June 1996

Early guide sought for grain proteins

EARLY prediction of grain nitrogen levels will enable growers to tweak foliar nitrogen applications to ensure produce meets premium market specifications.

So says Ian Richards, managing director of Levington Agriculture, the company studying the techniques potential.

"We are looking at ways of predicting grain protein content early enough to enable growers to do something about it," he explains. Levington started with malting barley last year, and has included milling wheat this season.

"There has been a glut of low N malting barley in recent seasons," he says. "But there has been a shortage of barleys of 1.55-1.65% N suitable for the growing lager market. If growers can target this more effectively, they stand to make money."

Early findings show promise. The company found measuring whole plant N content at GS60 correlates well with final N grain values across a range of sites.

Where N content was more than 1.18%, grain protein ended up over 1.65%. With values of 1.05-1.18%, grain was suitable for lager making. Less than 1% meant grain finished with less than 1.52% N, but if 20kg/ha (16 units/acre) of foliar urea was added grain N was pushed into the lager bracket.

If the one year results are confirmed, the approach could become a useful management tool, he says.

AN ADDITIVE which reduces crop scorch caused by liquid fertiliser is being investigated by Levington Agriculture.

It has identified a compound which allows twice as much fertiliser to be applied in one go as usual. It is expected to be targeted at first ear applications, when fertiliser often goes on in hot, scorch-prone conditions.