With fertiliser prices set to continue climbing this year, farmers have been urged to consider alternative methods to supplement their plant growth programs.
Broadacre farms are looking at prices of $1400 a tonne for urea from early this year, while smaller operators could be paying up to $1600/t.
That's the outlook from fertiliser and plant technology pioneer group RLF, which has developed a plant proton technology seed primer.
RLF managing director Ken Hancock says farmers are looking for many ways to cut fertiliser costs.
Mr Hancock said it may be prudent to put 80 per cent of their fertiliser spend to granular fertiliser, and spend 20pc on more efficient ways of bolstering plant growth.
RLF has an office in China and is involved in fertiliser and plant proton sales there and in South-East Asia, and has a good eye on how fertiliser supplies out of China are going.
Mr Hancock says because of the supply difficulties, China is likely to bias its fertiliser domestically, rather than for the export market during 2022.
"We don't see any price relief in sight," Mr Hancock said.
"It's a perfect storm of events, restricted supply, higher demand, strong commodity prices and global freight issues.
"There needs to be a new focus of new technology to maintain yields. There will be little change to the tight supply of urea and phosphate out of China.
"I think the positive out of it with the restricted supply is that we will be able to work with new technology to optimise the nutrient going into the grain."
RLF has established a plant proton technology that increases the amount of sugar produced by the plant, and also increasing the depth of its root system.
"Basically we are bypassing the soil," Mr Hancock said. It means nitrogen can be 30-60pc more available.
The grain is coated before sowing and can be done as part of the normal pre-sowing dip. A foliar application can be added later. He says the other benefit, besides boosting yield by 10pc, is basically a potential $5/t extra return for growers.
The plant has multiple opportunities to feed during the growing season. "We can also react to the season and how it is tracking," he said.
"The plant is the engine room of production and we stimulate the plant to abosrb as much nutrient as it can."
WA-based RLF was taking its AgTech to the world. In NSW, it was working with chickpea growers in Coonamble, cottongrowers in Moree and extensively in the Riverina.
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