RSB_BW150pxLearN-ing about nitrogen farm by farm. Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley, Head of Crop Performance, ADAS
“CropTec provides an opportunity to discuss the results of an important project being carried out by ADAS, NIAB TAG, GrowHow and Agrii for HGCA called LearN. It is using on-farm experience to improve nitrogen management.
Three basic questions underpin nitrogen management – how much nitrogen will a crop need; how much nitrogen will come from the soil and how efficiently can I close that gap? In the past, nitrogen experiments were conducted in small plots on farms spread throughout the country on different soil types, using different varieties and cropping techniques. But in 2010 we started to run trials that took a farm-by-farm approach where five hectare blocks were analysed. This showed the huge importance of soil variation. Now we have 18 farmers who are applying three levels of nitrogen in three adjacent strips – one strip using a standard application of nitrogen, another using more than that standard, say an extra 60kg of N per ha and the third using less, say 60kg less than the standard.
We have been analysing the results of the 2014 harvest and hope to be able to present them at CropTec. What we expect is that these relatively simple trials will increase our understanding of nitrogen management as well as providing invaluable data for the farmers themselves – helping them improve their own strategy. Tramlines mean that growers can apply different rates easily across soil zones while yield monitors in combines mean they can assess the difference in output easily.
Although we cannot run trials on a large number of farms ourselves, we suggest that farmers could conduct their own trials for their own information and would be delighted if they shared that data with us. We’ll be demonstrating how farmers can get involved in the trials at CropTec.”
Prof Sylvester-Bradley will be presenting to the Crop Nutrition seminar on Day One of CropTec, while his colleague Dr Daniel Kindred will present on Day Two.
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