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GRDC funds research on quantifying nitrogen losses and effect on crop production and GHG emissions

The Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) has awarded a research contract to the University of Western Australia to quantify the nitrogen losses and the effect on crop productivity and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the application of lime and sulphate of ammonia fertiliser under Western Australian farming systems.

For some time now there has been grower and industry concern about the application of sulphate of ammonia (SOA) and calcium carbonate (lime) in close sequence causing reduction in productivity, from nitrogen loss, within Western Australian farming systems. Concerns have also been raised about the contribution this practice adds to GHG emission intensity.

“Growers in the western region want to better understand the interactions between lime and SOA and the subsequent impacts on crop productivity and greenhouse gas emissions to enable more informed decisions on lime or fertiliser application,” says Project Leader, Associate Professor Louise Barton from UWA School of Agriculture and Environment.

The research will conduct a literature review and survey of agronomists to understand common lime and SOA practices, which will be used to design and implement a pilot trial under glasshouse conditions that will focus on:

  • The effect on crop productivity/yield from the surface application of lime and sulphate of ammonia within the Western Australian farming system

  • The short- and medium-term interactions between crop, soil, lime, and sulphate of ammonia. This will include residual lime within the soil from previous applications of lime

  • The effect of these interactions on crop growth and yield (Canola and Wheat) and greenhouse gas emission.

As this is an industry project, the research team will consult with agronomists to define the scope of issues, and present outcomes and key recommendations at relevant industry forums.

The project is being conducted by researchers from the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and Murdoch University. Dr Fiona Dempster from the Centre for Agricultural Economics and Development (CAED) will conduct the agronomists survey to better understand lime and SOA practices in broadacre cropping systems. Other project team members engaged on this project include Professor Daniel Murphy (Murdoch University), Professor Zed Rengel, and A/Professor Matthias Leopold, and Research Officer, Mr Paul Damon (The University of Western Australia).

More Information

Key Contacts

Project Leader: Louise Barton at

CAED member: Dr Fiona Dempster at


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