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First irrigation

In the era of Bollgard II crops where we’re
having crops with high fruit retention, it’s important we have a vigorous, healthy canopy
at the onset of early fruit growth. The consequences of not having that larger
crop size means that as the fruit load comes on, there’s greater chance later in the crop
growth that crops will cut-out earlier and lead to less yield.
If we don’t have the water there, leaves don’t expand, we don’t intercept the light, and
that leads to less growth. The principles I work on relate to ensuring
that the roots have good access to soil moisture. Conversely it’s important not to have too
much moisture there because if we have situations with waterlogged conditions, we won’t get
the root growth we need to support fruit growth. If you have C probes, certainly use that
information, but I’ve found lately given the importance of the decision, that literally
going out with a shovel, digging up the plants, looking at young fresh root growth – looking
for more of those fresh roots to be in that moist soil than those fresh roots being in
dry soil. What I define as moist soil is something I
can start to make a ribbon with when I’m putting it between finger and thumb.
The risks of going in too early with first irrigation pertains to causing waterlogged
conditions, and potentially killing off the roots you need to support that vigorous and
early fruit growth. If you’re too late with your first irrigation, obviously you’re not
growing roots, and the consequence of not taking water up is you don’t get the leaf
expansion, so you’ve got less leaf area at the time when you need it to support that
early fruit growth. There are researchers within industry looking
at plant-based sensing technologies. We’re already starting to explore uses of canopy
temperature for when the canopies are larger, and there are other plant-based sensors that
we can utilise that can give us better and more direct measures of whether plants are
approaching stress or not.

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