New rig changes crop care methods on the Downs

Mike Jones talks with Landmark's Paul McIntosh about the machine irrigator he designed.
Mike Jones talks with Landmark's Paul McIntosh about the machine irrigator he designed. Contributed

A CECIL Plains contractor is changing the way irrigators and producers can manage their crops, regardless of plant maturity.

Mike Jones, of Jones Ground Rigs, has developed what is believed to be the first Nitro Miller liquid fertiliser bar rig outside the United States and is rolling out the system across the Darling Downs.

"The design is used by American farmers who have been using this style of rig for a few years," he said.

"I went over and had a look at it in July last year and thought we could use that concept here in Australia."

While liquid application is nothing new, the manner in which the bar applies fertilisers is.

The fluted coulter opens a narrow slot in the soil into which liquid fertiliser is places and the slot is closed instantly, ensuring minimum soil disturbance.

"The rig has high clearance which can get over a variety of crops - everything from sorghum to corn," he said.

"I'd like to explore sugar cane but as yet we haven't tested that far."

Mr Jones said using the rig meant farmers could spread the risk in terms of crop fertilisation, reduce crop burn from dry application, and the precise application method meant little to no loss of product.

Landmark agronomist Paul McIntosh endorsed the ground rig for its practicality for producers.

"The principle of splitting your nitrogen application to all our broad acre crops has been one of my key agronomic points for nearly 20 years," he said.

"My argument that the plant appreciates the two thirds of your total nitrogen requirements as a pre plant and then follow along in crop with the other required nitrogen percentage has been hard to realise due to potential application problems.

"The other issue is that the discs and nozzle do not need large furrows to place the liquid nitrogen product under the soil surface.

"It is just a small groove in the soil surface to facilitate the nitrogen injection and this guarantees no volatilisation losses of product to the open air."