Esperance farm shows frost-resistant results

Promising trial: Dr Peter Keating and Brad Wisewould at the Beaumont trial site, which has helped develop more anti-freeze in plants. Photo: Supplied.

Promising trial: Dr Peter Keating and Brad Wisewould at the Beaumont trial site, which has helped develop more anti-freeze in plants. Photo: Supplied.

A extensive trial has yielded promising results amid a devastating frost-hit to farmers in the Esperance region.

Viridis Ag is trialling a carbon fertiliser pellet that can be direct-sown through growers' seeding systems at its Yupiri farm in Beaumont, near Esperance.

The fertiliser contains 33 per cent carbon, more than 45 per cent organic matter and a balance of other nutrients.

The trial is set over about 50 hectares of sandplain soils sown to barley, including the addition of the carbon fertiliser pellet to normal and reduced crop nutrition, application of the carbon fertiliser alone, as well as areas where no fertiliser has been applied.

Bioscience managing director Dr Peter Keating said several treatments at the site with normal crop nutrition experienced severe frost damage, in stark contrast to treatments with the carbon fertiliser pellet.

"From the images of the frosted treatments, it looked like you would write-off the crop, but there was a major difference where the pellet was applied,'' Dr Keating said.

Potassium uptake increased up to 36 per cent higher than the average level from across the treatments with normal crop nutrition, while phosphorus uptake was up to 38 per cent higher.

"Bigger and healthier plants are growing better and the higher sugar is likely having an osmotic effect, depressing the freezing point in plants," he said.

Yupirir manager Dafydd Jones said about half of the property's cereal crops were hit by frost.

"A lot of the wheat is stem-frosted, so it could be severe, and the barley was hit during flowering,'' Mr Jones said.

"It has been affected and there is some differences in the trial. Visually, you can see the difference with the crop and the trial is going to be interesting to see.''

Another trial in the northern Wheatbelt is also part of a three-year research program, which involves a range of crops including wheat, barley, canola, export oaten hay and lupins.

Final yields, grain quality and return on investment will be assessed across all trials at harvest.