“Evidence-based approach to crop nutrition is key” at CropTec

Using individual farm data is a vital part of accurate and profitable decision-making on farm, according to Natalie Wood, Country Arable Agronomist at Yara. Speaking at CropTec 2019, Natalie highlighted soil, tissue and grain analysis as important tools for promoting efficient nitrogen use and complete crop nutrition – as long as the data is acted upon.

“All farms ultimately base their decisions on some form of data, so it makes sense for that data to be from your own farm,” says Natalie. “Testing gives insight into a farm’s unique challenges and strengths, which then enables better decision-making.”

Natalie discussed the results of a grain nutrient benchmarking scheme, which took place over the last two years, based on 252 samples. Analysis showed multiple deficiencies across the board:

  • 73% deficiency in N, P or K
  • 83% deficiency in one or more remaining nutrients
  • 71% of wheat samples were below grain guideline levels for phosphate – the most common deficiency recorded in the samples

As expected, the results also showed a link between a higher soil index and elevated P levels in the grain. As part of their drive to promote more proactive individual farm management and achieve better results, Yara have regularly funded studies and trials examining crop nutrition, including guidance on how best to avoid deficiencies.

Natalie also underlined the importance of nitrogen use efficiency during the seminar, focusing on how data from trials and use of nitrogen management tools can help deliver the best results possible, and help target nutrient deficiencies.

Nutrient deficiencies can swiftly rise if not properly managed, with Natalie indicating the recent sharp rise in boron deficiencies as a classic example.

“It’s not just important to collect the data, but to act on the results,” adds Natalie. “Running tests is an important first step, but action is needed to ensure optimal crop nutrition. For higher nitrogen use efficiency and for avoiding other deficiencies, make full use of the tools at hand, and then follow those results with a clear actionable plan.”

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.