Nutrition vital in light of soil conditions

With current water-logged and cold soil conditions potentially limiting nutrient availability, growers are being urged to prioritise cereal crop nutrition in the spring to ensure robust yields.

Chris Bond, FMC plant health commercial technical manager, explains that rainfall has been 97.5% higher this autumn than last year[1], having a big impact on autumn drilling, with reports of only 30% of winter crops drilled in badly affected areas.

“Nutrition may be the last thing on growers’ minds, but with current soil conditions being less than ideal, nutrient availability could be impacting development and yields of autumn drilled crops and come spring, those that will be drilled into challenged soils.

“Important nutrients such as nitrogen, sulphur and magnesium, will be leaching away and phosphorus, copper and zinc, which are vital for root development and cold tolerance, will be unavailable to the plant,” he says.

This means it is more important than ever to ensure nutrition is correct coming out of the winter and into the spring.

“The first step is to establish what’s limiting your crops,” he says. “You can either look at the losses from the soil by using soil analysis or come early spring, test the nutrient uptake of the plant through tissue testing.”

He explains that if you do anticipate a deficiency in your crops, foliar applications could be the best option if you are able to travel.

“Because of the soil conditions, any nutrients that are applied to the soil will be ineffective. Your best bet is to apply specially formulated foliar nutrients which can be effectively absorbed by the plant.

“Foliar applications of some key nutrients can be applied in cereals from the three-leaf stage, when there is a big enough target to intercept the application,” he says.

“With such high rainfall causing waterlogged soils and with cold weather predicted this winter, nutrition will play a big part in making sure crops are as strong and healthy as they can be going into next spring,” concludes Chris.

 

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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.