Rob Norton: Do nutrient additives work

Rob Norton: Do nutrient additives work

One of the common things that we hear
farmers asking about in terms of crop nutrition is you know is there some
adjuvant that we can add to our fertiliser to improve the productivity
or even get away from using fertilisers We’ve done work through various
organisations here at Longerenong with students looking at comparing different
nutrient additives and to be honest some of them claim, some of their claims
are far in excess of what we see in reality. With these products that come
out I’m not saying that all of them are of no value but some may present value to
growers but I’d say to growers and advisors the question you must, you’ll
always need to ask is where’s the evidence for these products that you’re
promoting to me to use as a grower, what evidence do you have is it
evidence based on good science does it come from trials that are
randomised and replicated and repeatable or does it come from someone’s opinion. Now
someone’s opinion might be useful and you might value that but you should be
valuing the science behind the evaluation of these products. The future
of progression in farming really relies on good the application of good science
to our farming systems and good science is the basis that got us to where we are,
good science will help take us forward with with the well-educated and
innovative farming community we have now they can use the the good science and
put it into context on their own farms and really achieve some of the some of
the yield goals to get towards their water limited yield potential so the
question becomes how do I know if that information is reliable. Well there’s two
two aspects to it firstly is who’s giving who’s providing it to you
what vested interests do they have in the provision of that and secondly has
the information been collected and presented in a scientific way and the
key to look for in those graphs or tables is whether there’s been
statistical analysis and statistical differences presented so that means on
the bar graphs that they might present as a little tick mark at the top of the
bar graph that you can use as an estimate to compare the difference
between two means or on the table is there LSD: Least Significant Difference
that allows you to compare two numbers. Those are the key aspects of looking for
the science to support good practice so for example if we compared two products
product A and product B and the yield of product A was 1 tonne per hectare and
the yield using product B was 1.2 tonnes per hectare. If the LSD the least significant difference was 0.2 tonnes per
hectare which is the difference between those two then there’s no difference
those two numbers 1 and 1.2 are just variable, varying by chance.
However if the if the yield of the third product was 1.5 tonnes per hectare that’s
more than that difference of point two then we do have a real difference,
a statistically significant difference which based on that experiment comes up
as being something you could expect to see. And that doesn’t mean it will always
occur but in that particular experiment you can be reasonably sure that it was
due to the treatments and not just a random effect

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