Establishing oilseed rape can be a challenge in any year, depending on autumn conditions. However, with the current price of NPK fertilisers, getting the most from your crop is more important than ever.
Natalie Wood, Agronomy Operations manager at Yara, explains just how vital nutrition is for achieving the best results when it comes to OSR: “With current crop prices, the area drilled will be back up compared to previous years. Nutrition is crucial for establishment, and both macro and micronutrients having a role to play.”
Promoting root and shoot growth
“Using an NPKS fertiliser at drilling gets the crop off to an excellent start. How? By promoting maximum root and shoot growth. This, in turn, means better access to water and other nutrients within the soil.”
As Mrs Wood explains, farmers can apply up to 30kgN/ha in the autumn if they’re located in an NVZ. However, if placing their fertiliser, this number can be reduced to 25kgN/ha due to the increase in precision.
“Phosphate, in particular, doesn’t travel very far in the soil,” says Mrs Wood. “The travel distance is less than 1mm on average. Therefore placing fertiliser at drilling will keep the nutrients closer to the seed. When the seed germinates, it will have easy access to the necessary nutrients.”
Placing your NPK fertiliser also means less is wasted by being spread between rows; P, for example, becomes ‘locked-up’ (either by iron, aluminium, or calcium ions) when interrow, and is thus unavailable to the plant.
Trialling new organ-mineral fertiliser
“A good starter for OSR would be a compound granular or prilled NPKS fertiliser or liquid nitrogen + sulphur fertiliser,” says Mrs Wood. “At Yara, we’re also currently trialling a new 8:3:3 organo-mineral fertiliser with a 45% organic matter base that has had very promising early results.”
Once the crop has established four true leaves, a balanced combination of micronutrients can be applied to ensure the crop is able to access key micronutrients – essential for brassica crops.
“Long-term trials data shows you can achieve a 0.27t/ha yield increase in the autumn and spring when using the right fertiliser products,” adds Mrs Wood. “Robust establishment of OSR means getting the crop off to the best possible start. This is the way in you can then achieve the best return on investment possible.”