DR PAUL BLACKWELL TRIALS

 

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By Nicole Baxter

Preliminary trial results in Western Australia show a low rate of banded biochar applied with an intermediate level of starter fertiliser may be sufficient to increase wheat yields on sandy soils by 10 per cent or more.

Dr Paul Blackwell, of the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), says adding a small amount of biochar (about one tonne per hectare at a paddock rate) appears to improve the efficiency of starter

fertiliser.

In one example, a trial at Walkaway had 1t/ha of biochar placed in the row by banding. The subsequent grain yield increased by 17 per cent (210 kilograms a hectare) when combined with 50kg/ha of starter fertiliser. By comparison, doubling the fertiliser rate with no biochar gave no yield increase.

“In this case, adding biochar at 1t/ha increased yield more efficiently with half the fertiliser rate than the full fertiliser rate,” Dr Blackwell says. “In another trial at Moora, banded biochar application enabled 65 per cent less

fertiliser to be used for the same grain yield.”

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This project is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program

supported by Royalties for Regions, and the Warren Catchments Council.

 
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