Home > Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia Backs New Project that Aims to Confirm Evidence of Corn Benefiting Cotton

Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia Backs New Project that Aims to Confirm Evidence of Corn Benefiting Cotton

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article image The new project aims to quantify the benefits many growers are seeing in their cotton crops after planting corn the previous summer season.

Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia is backing a new project that aims to quantify the benefits many growers are seeing in their cotton crops after planting corn the previous summer season.

The three-year project, starting in July this year, is a PhD scholarship being conducted by Alison Devereux of the University of Queensland. It is jointly funded by seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia and both CRDC (Cotton Research and Development Corporation) and GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation) through the Cotton CRC (Cotton Catchment Communities Cooperative Research Centre).

Dr Longbin Huang, lecturer in plant nutrition and crop quality at UQ, and Dr Nilantha Hulugalle, senior research scientist in soil science of NSW DPI, are supervising the project. The project was initiated after anecdotal evidence from Pioneer corn growers suggested yield improvements in cotton crops grown after corn.

Yield data from a farm in the South Burnett showed cotton yielded 10 to12 bales per hectare after two years of growing a summer corn crop in contrast to 7.5 bales per hectare in a nearby continuous cotton cropping system. Other growers at Dalby and Moree have also reported up to 25 per cent increase in cotton yield after a corn rotation.

Dr Huang said, “The project’s focus is to get scientific evidence for this corn-induced increase in cotton yield seen in farmers’ fields. We also want to look at the soil and plant processes behind the beneficial impacts corn may be having on cotton yield and quality.”

Dr Huang said the cotton yield improvements could be from better nutrient supply.

“Corn residue left after harvest may be making nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium more available to the subsequent cotton crop. Better potassium availability would be very beneficial to cotton yield and quality because deficiencies of this nutrient can cause premature senescence in late season cotton growth.

“Alison will also be looking at whether corn improves subsoil structure and cotton root growth or improves water use efficiency in the cotton crop in comparison with a traditional wheat rotation,” Dr Huang said.

Alison Devereux said large-scale trials will be planted in September or October on two Darling Downs farms where both corn and cotton is grown.

“A more detailed experiment is planned at the Australian Cotton Research Institute in Narrabri in conjunction with an existing cotton rotation experiments supervised by Dr Nilantha Hulugalle,” Ms Devereux explained.

Peter Kleinhanss, national sales and agronomy manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia, said the trials should provide growers with hard evidence of the benefits of corn in the cotton rotation.

“Pioneer is very pleased to support this project, which we hope will give growers the data they need to make decisions about the best crop to rotate with cotton,” Mr Kleinhanss said.

“There is strong evidence that corn and cotton are ideal companion crops, but cotton growers, like all farmers, have to make business decisions based on economics and sustainability. We are confident that this project will go a long way in addressing these issues.”

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