Agricultural Studies

Agricultural Studies

Answering questions: For most of the questions, there is no completely right or wrong answer. What we want you to do is show us that you understand what is driving the system, or causing the differences/trends which you are seeing, and how these interactions between weather, soils, nutrients, and crop are important in managing a farming system.
When you are showing us that you understand, please keep your answers short – a couple of lines to a paragraph is all we are expecting for most points in a question. This saves time for you when answering, and for us when marking.
Include the relevant graphs from the reports – this will help your answer, and allows us to see the information you are basing your answers on.
1.What is your estimate of the yield of this crop? Base your comments on the climate forecast, and yield probability curves, and comment on the range of predicted values.
Discuss the range of yields predicted with current nitrogen application, and when N is unlimited from now, and from the start of the season. Your comments should include the differences between wetter and drier years for the different N scenarios. Comment on whether yield has been lost up to this point from the lack of nitrogen.
2. Give your thoughts or comments on the following from the crop report
a. The amount of rainfall which has fallen so far, in comparison to historical records.
b. Crop rooting depth (now and the final limit),
c. water and N availability and stress,
d. likelihood of frost and heat stress affecting this crop.
e. You are planning to spray fungicide to protect the flag leaf just after it has emerged – when are you likely to be spraying.
3.Using the Nitrogen Comparison Report (and possibly the N Profit Report), apply different rates of N to determine what you think is the optimum rate of N for this site (you don’t need to include these reports in your assignment). Then apply that rate of N at different timings to see whether timing is important in your region. I would suggest the following three timings to start with, but feel free to play with others if you want.
a. Presowing or at sowing
b. Growth stage GS16 (6 leaf stage late tillering)
c. Growth stage GS37 (flag leaf emergence)
Briefly discuss the results, including why there are differences between timings. You should also include comments on which of these timings (or other timing) you would use, and how other factors, such the initial N level, might influence your decisions.
Tips
• Use the crop report to determine the dates these growth stages occur.
• Assume the following when using the N profit report – grade APW, 10.5% protein, protein payment $5/%, grain price $250/t, nitrogen price $1.50/kg
• If your paddock has high levels of N applied at or before sowing, and is not responsive to these applications, remove this initial application and apply it at the above growth stages to see if you can improve on your existing strategy. Write a comment so that we can see what you have done.
4.This question is looking at the effect of starting soil water levels on yield. Pick one of the other sites, and modify it to have the same weather station and soil type as your existing scenario. Set up the initial soil water levels to be different to your existing scenario.
For Boggabilla, start with approximately 15-25% of a full profile, while for Lockhart, Birchip, Hart or Merredin use an 80-90% full profile. The actual percentage isn’t important, it’s the difference between wet and dry profiles we are interested in. See the ‘Modifying the setup in YP’ file on Moodle for how to change water if you don’t see what you should be doing.
Produce a crop report, and discuss the differences in yield between this scenario and the results from the initial soil water level (Q1). Include comments on the differences between the current and unlimited N yields, and between wetter and drier years.
5.Using the Irrigation comparison report and the best rate and timing of N from Q3, enter the following scenarios to add water to the crop (this could be rainfall or irrigation):-
a. Pre-sowing 100mm, 75% efficiency
b. GS16 100mm, 75% efficiency
c. GS65 100mm, 75% efficiency
Discuss the effect of increased rainfall/water on yield, and particularly the differences in response between the different growth stages.
6.500 levels students only
Pick one of the other soils/regions which is completely different to your original, and repeat Q4. Comment on the differences between the two regions in terms of factors which would be important to understand if you were transferred to this area tomorrow as an advisor to growers. For example, the importance of stored water, likely yield potential across different seasons, possible stress on the crops, etc.
This follow up is to observe how the yield predictions have changed over time in response to rainfall, and to look briefly at how much and when the crop has been stressed. Ideally this would be done after grain fill or at harvest, but the trimester is a little too short for this.

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