Back Paddock Agronomist Robyn Tuck talks with experienced Nutrien Ag Solutions agronomists about the role of soil/plant testing and SoilMate in their business.

Jamie Innes, Nutrien Ag Pittsworth

“We pretty much sample every paddock every season, and plan nitrogen recommendations from there. The mobile App – “It’s just so easy” says Jamie. Scan the barcodes on the bags, put it in the post, all done from the field no paperwork.!! 

I email the lab to let them know the samples are on the way.”

The SoilMate program is flexible, and agronomists across Australia will use it differently, according to their clients’ needs and circumstances. When it comes to cotton production, the focus is on nitrogen. The right amount at the right time.

Jamie Commented “Most of the “dryland” cotton will have the nitrogen in the ground ahead of the crop. Sometimes it goes in with the wheat crop to get it down at depth where it will still be available for the following cotton crop. The irrigated cotton will have around 30% N upfront and the rest as we go through the season depending on how the crop is progressing and if it looks like the season is going to provide opportunity for a bigger yield. We discuss it together the growers and I and use our soil test data as a basis for the decisions around how much more N might be required.  I don’t do tissue testing, but I’d like to have a look at that. “

 “I like the GraiNPlan and the CottoNPlan tools in SoilMate . I like the three yield targets to give a range (and the protein options for GraiNPlan). I always give a final recommendation, but we have a discussion about side dressing and come back and look at those other targets and make adjustments to Nitrogen applications if it’s a good season.

When asked for a rating out of ten Jamie offers an 8/10 saying “no program is perfect”. The program is always being modified to keep up with changes in technology and that can cause hiccups but the Back Paddock Support Team on the help desk are terrific. Katy is always able to sort out any of my issues very quickly. It’s great to be able to pick up the phone and know there’s someone at the other end who will be able to help. I don’t hesitate to contact the BP team, if I have a question. It’s great to have Chris Dowling’s exceptional agronomic advice to draw on if required.

We discussed some of the other tools in the program, the Trend Analysis. “It would be pretty interesting to have a look at that.” Historical soil tests are securely archived within SoilMate so agronomists like Jamie, who have served their clients for many years can quickly and easily generate a Trend Analysis Graph to show the soil fertility levels over time and across paddocks. It’s a good tool for examining the long-term trends to check soil fertility levels aren’t being run down. Any of the analytes in a soil test can be use in this tool to look at trends. N P K S & OC (Organic Carbon) as well as pH. We agreed it would be nice to see a level line showing the soil fertility being maintained. Jamie asked for more information on this. We have sent him the following links so he can become familiar with the Trend Analysis, and other tools Tool in Soil Mate.

Thanks, Jamie, for sharing your SoilMate experiences.