Be prepared for spring fertiliser applications, advises UK’s leading supplier

Arable and grassland farmers should ensure that they have adequate supplies of fertiliser in store this winter to avoid being caught out in the event of an early spring, advises the UK’s leading supplier.

“Following a very early harvest, good establishment conditions in the autumn and favourable weather since, most arable crops are well ahead and looking good going into winter. The key will be to build on their potential this spring by applying the correct level of nutrients at the time when they are best able to respond,” states Allison Grundy, Arable Agronomist for GrowHow.

“The case for early applications of nitrogen on winter barley has been proven by ADAS research funded by GrowHow. Oilseed rape canopies may also change significantly between now and spring. Crops which currently have a large canopy could very quickly require an early application of nitrogen in the spring should harsh weather over the next few weeks reduce canopy size in order to achieve an optimum canopy and yield above 3.5t/ha.

“Grassland farms are in much the same position as arable producers and if good weather allows them to turn cattle out early the need to apply fertiliser early will become paramount. Like arable farms grassland enterprises may need to consider applying nitrogen fertiliser which contains Sulphur for the first dressing as this can help grass and cereal crops to take up nitrogen, leading to improved yields and quality.

“Measuring Soil Mineral Nitrogen (SMN) and Additional Available Nitrogen (AAN) in the spring using the GrowHow N-Min analysis to assess Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS) more accurately will help growers tailor early and overall N applications. N-Min ensures that crops receive just enough nitrogen to meet their requirements, taking into account any N contributed from applications of organic manure/materials. Balancing P & K indices and maintaining adequate pH levels all contribute towards achieving optimum crop performance and as importantly, minimise adverse effects to the wider environment.

“The question that farmers should be asking themselves right now is whether they have enough nitrogen fertiliser, of the right type in store to compensate for that not supplied from the soil and meet their crops’ requirement.”

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