6 steps to improve your fertiliser use efficiency

An reasonable of 40% of the nitrogen fertiliser applied to vegetation isn’t utilised and could be misplaced. However, through making small adjustments to fertiliser use, farmers can cut back these losses and spice up margins. In an ordinary season, maximum farmers will reach a nitrogen use potency of somewhere round 60%, says Frontier nationwide crop technical manager Edward Downing.

However, analysis has shown that 80% is achievable and he believes this is what farmers must be aiming for.

So what does 60% potency appear to be? Take a wheat crop yielding 8t/ha with a grain protein of 10.eight%. This crop could have most often received 200kg/ha of N fertiliser.

“This crop has taken up 190kg/ha to support this level of output and if you assume about 70kg/ha is supplied from soil, that leaves 120kg/ha coming from fertiliser,” he says. This equates to 60% of the full applied.

Looking at the benefits of making improvements to potency, in a situation the place nitrogen is limiting yield, it is going to lead to increased output.

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“If a farmer can increase uptake to get up to 9t/ha, the efficiency rises to 72% and it brings £160/ha extra margin.”

If nitrogen isn’t proscribing, bettering potency to 70% approach the farmer can save on fertiliser and follow simplest 171kg/ha for the same yield and protein.

Here are six spaces where farmers can support their fertiliser use efficiency.

1. Other vitamins and soil pH

A deficiency in some other nutrient can lead to a decrease nitrogen use potency.

One example is sulphur, which has a very powerful position in protein synthesis. A scarcity in this macronutrient is related with poorer nitrogen uptake, Mr Downing says.

Phosphate may be important for rooting, and having a excellent, in depth root community is essential for maximising nutrient uptake.

“Don’t forget soil pH, as this also affects root development too,” he says.

Mr Downing points to lime use in the UK, which has been declining over the past 14 years, and if this trend continues there will be 0 use by way of 2040.

2. Reduce losses as ammonia

Another factor hitting fertiliser efficiency is losses from soil. There are two key processes at work here: ammonia volatilisation from applied urea and nitrate leaching.

Aside from the environmental benefits of lowering ammonia, Mr Downing believes tackling these losses can probably save tens of kilograms of fertiliser, which could be a really extensive saving.

Switching from urea to ammonium nitrate fertiliser is one technique to get rid of ammonia loses, because it does now not volatilise.

“Another option is to incorporate urea in soil, but I can’t see this being practical,” he says.

Timing is essential and farmers will have to steer clear of warm, dry stipulations when making use of urea, as this favours volatilisation.

However, urease inhibitors can just about get rid of this downside, through controlling the conversion of urea to ammonium.

“Perhaps farmers should consider using an additive when applying urea in more challenging conditions.”

He highlights Adas knowledge showing a 75% reduction in ammonia losses when the use of an enhanced urea product instead of heterosexual urea.

In one Frontier trial, there used to be a nitrogen use efficiency of 62% with liquid urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN). Two different urease inhibitors had been being tested and both greater potency to 70%.

3. Reduce nitrate leaching Although nitrate is a very cellular type of nitrogen, if there’s a growing crop present, it’ll take in the nutrient.

Mr Downing says the leaching problem arises when there may be more nitrate than the crop can take up throughout periods of heavy rain. It is a selected drawback for bare stubbles in iciness when rainfall is upper and there is not any crop taking over any nitrogen.

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That is why quilt crops are precious, as they may be able to capture this nitrogen.

Nitrification inhibitors also are helpful, as they prolong the conversion of ammonium to nitrate through about 6-10 weeks.

Frontier has even looked at tackling losses from soil through taking soil out of the equation with a foliar manner.

Last year, Mr Downing checked out supplying the primary 70kg/ha as solid fertiliser and the remainder 110kg/ha in two foliar splits.

“We didn’t end up killing the crop and it yielded similar to the control,” he says. “The results look promising and we will be repeating the trials this year.”

4. Apply the correct fee

In season, farmers should be prepared to revise fertiliser rates up or down and not simply stick with the unique plan.

Crop imagery and biomass measurements from drones and satellites, at the side of N sensors and tissue checking out, are useful tools for seeing how crops are taking on N and getting a greater estimate in their necessities.

5. Apply at the proper time

Applying smaller amounts throughout more splits in most cases improves fertiliser use potency.

“One limitation is with nitrogen+sulphur products, as this ties you into specific rates and timings,” he says.

However, there are other ways to apply sulphur, such as liquid fertiliser, low-sulphur products and explicit sulphur merchandise akin to Polysulphate, giving farmers extra flexibility over N fertiliser timings.

“Go by conditions, not calendar date,” Mr Downing says, mentioning that the primary and last applications are those at greatest risk of losses.

The first dressing is essential to get the crop off and operating in the spring and keep tillers, however it is usually essentially the most vulnerable to leaching.

“So you need to ensure there is sufficient crop growth to ensure uptake, and monitoring soil temperature will help with this.”

Conversely, with the final dose, dry soils with prime temperatures is usually a problem, expanding ammonia volatilisation and lowering nitrogen uptake.

“Be prepared to pull the timing earlier if it is looking to be warm and dry like last year,” he says.

6. Apply as it should be

Finally, get your fertiliser spreader tray examined and make sure it is as accurate as conceivable. Poor accuracy can be a real problem with wider bouts.

Technology helps, with auto shut-off serving to avoid overlaps with abnormal box shapes. and Mr Downing says there may be even an Amazone spreader that adjusts spread development in keeping with wind course and pace.

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