There is considerable scope to improve fertiliser efficiency on UK farms, but doing so requires more detailed planning of crop nutrition.
From short-term plans for a single crop and season, to longer term strategies incorporating soil quality improvements and rotational changes, the best approach varies according to a host of factors from business structure and land ownership to the soil characteristics and machinery available.
But if we are to achieve better nutrition efficiency and ultimately improve crop yields it is vital we learn from the varied research carried out over recent years and apply it to individual situations.
The nutrition management seminar at CropTec, is the ideal opportunity to see how we can all use elements of this vast industry dataset to improve farm practices.
For example, Yara analysis of soil and tissue samples has identified the need to address an increasing trend of boron deficiency in wheat, while other research shows considerable scope to improve the efficiency of sulphur use by timing applications closer to when crops need it rather than large doses in autumn.
It’s a similar situation with phosphate, where there are strong agronomic and environmental reasons for improving the type, timing and rates of application.
Improving fertiliser efficiency is not about using or spending more, but ensuring we make the most out of what we do apply to get more yield from the same, or maybe even less, spend.
For farmers on short-term rental agreements that may mean a focus on getting the most out of crops and inputs within each season by utilising tools such as tissue analysis, while others may also want to address longer-term improvements to soil structure, organic matter and fertility. The plan will be different for every farm; the key is to have one in the first place.
Crop Nutrition sessions sponsored by Yara
Chaired by Mark Tucker, Yara’s head of agronomy and marketing, Natalie Wood, also form Yara, will talk about long and short-term nutrition strategies covered by. Roger Sylvester-Bradley, head of crop performance, ADAS will talk about how to manage the efficiency of the valuable nutrient, phosphorus, and Ian Matts, farms director and agronomist, Brixworth Farming, will describe how he gets the best nutritional value and cost savings from growing cover crops, utilising digestate and other organic materials.