In-Furrow Soil Management – Surcometrics

infurrow soil management

Planting is coming to a close for the 2015 winter broadacre cropping programme. The growing campaign has begun!!!

Getting the crop in the ground is a great time of year. The soil is brought to life and the earthy smell (geosmin) awakens your senses as the machinery digs in to the ground.
The greatest point of intervention in the season is at planting. The physical intervention of a tillage implement and the chemical/biochemical intervention of fertilisers and soil conditioners to accompany the seed is a powerful combination of events.
Many however do not consider the impact tillage intervention can have on soil performance, especially in the localised zone of the planted furrow surrounding the seed.
At planting, we now have the capacity to effectively deliver different fertilisers and/or soil ameliorants at different depths as part of the ‘vertical rate’ management of soils.
This provides land managers with the tools to begin to influence the furrow soil condition. The emerging seed can then more effectively utilise and support the growth and development of its physiological processes during the growing season.
We have recently spent of lot of research time, field time and focus on a deeper understanding of the recently coined term ‘Surcometrics’ (the science of the planted furrow – Surco = Spanish term for Furrow). Surcometrics looks at the management and manipulation of the soil condition in the planted furrow, targeted specifically at cost effectively managing nutrient requirements and localised soil condition at planting. It has huge potential for greater understanding and management of broadacre soil and plant performance. It is a specific area of science that will develop quickly as soil big data is used more effectively.
In reality we have always been manipulating the ‘Surcometrics’ since the first seed was planted with many historical management techniques, however now technology has started to catch up with field applied science and is now being more closely aligned and managed for effective field solutions for improved productivity.
In this one case example (refer picture), we used pH indicator on the soil surface to highlight the variation in pH of the applied liquids in the furrow.
This planting machine is a FlexiCoil 820 tined machine with a Liquid Systems S.A. dual line liquid delivery system.
We have used patented soil conditioners/stabilisers applied at depth below the seed ( to assist in managing soil acidity and nutrient requirement at depth in the furrow) – As indicated by the purple colour (approx pH 8.5-9)
and have applied a specific micronutrient solution to be applied near the seed (approx pH 5.5-6)
The dual liquid application is accompanied with granular fertiliser (MAP) as the base nutrient package for effective management of acidic, high potassium clay loams.
There is still plenty of research to be conducted in the field of Surcometrics , especially with regard to the variation in soil types not only in Australia but around the world. We believe it will be where the specific advances in soil management and plant productivity will be derived from in the immediate future.

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