August: Time to harvest crops and data
August is such an important month with harvest naturally the number one priority. But don’t miss the data gathering opportunity that this time presents as data that underpins your crop nutrition strategy can be part of your ‘Reflect & Review’ process in crop management:
Grain analysis is widely available in the UK but is not often routinely done on-farm. It shows what nutrients the grain contains and therefore whether the crop has had sufficient of each nutrient during the growing season.
Look at the nitrogen:sulphur ratio in the results. If the N:S ratio is 17:1 or above in wheat, this is an indication that there wasn’t enough sulphur available to meet the crop’s demand.
If your strategy revolves around a ‘balance sheet’ method, then offtake calculations will be more accurate when grain analysis and grain yield are combined, as opposed to using ‘book values’.
Micronutrients are also measured and will show up if they were low through the season, therefore causing any loss of yield. Don’t forget Liebig’s Law of the Minimum : any limiting factor has the potential to stifle optimum yield.
As crops are cleared have a soil sampling schedule covering a minimum of 20% of the farmed area. This will ensure you remain compliant with current ‘five year’ regulations. A comprehensive nutrient plan will account for all the key nutrients, macro and micro – if you don’t measure them you can’t manage them with confidence. pH and organic matter levels are key to soil nutrient supply, so start a database to assist with their management. Organic matter is a great soil health indicator and is likely to feature prominently in government policy with its importance in soil carbon management.
Finally, having started to gather all this data, do ensure that it is put to good use and drives appropriate changes / actions where required, ultimately helping towards that optimum crop performance.
For more information on grain and soil analysis please visit yara.co.uk/arable-analysis