We are facing unprecedented times, and farming along with other industries are having to ensure their businesses are as well positioned as they can be to manage the impact our withdrawal from the EU in whatever form that might be, will have.
The engine room and lifeblood of any farm is the soil, an element that has the potential to impact greatly on farm profitability. Knowing the fertility of your soils is key in determining the most efficient and cost-effective choices that should be made when using both fertilisers and manures.
In most cases, essential nutrients for plant growth come from the soil and are delivered by the root system. However, most soils don’t contain the right amounts of all the nutrients needed with different types of plants having very different nutrient requirements.
The question is, “How can you make sure your plants have access to everything they need for maximum performance?”
One approach that many growers employ is to fertilise with all possible nutrients on a regular basis. Taking this route however, can waste fertiliser and more importantly money, in addition environmental compliance can be compromised as a result of ground pollution and surface water with excess nutrients.
Yet this is exactly what you are exposing yourself to when applying fertiliser without testing your soils first. The chart highlights the effects on nutrient efficiency if your fields go unchecked and the PH is not at its optimum level, the net effect, money wasted on fertiliser, loss of crop production and quality.
The net effect, money wasted on fertiliser, loss of crop production and quality.
We would advocate that at least 25% of the farm holding be tested each year, with any fields that are known to have thrown up problems be tested on a more regular basis.
In doing so a clear picture with up to date information will be obtained, allowing for more accurate nutrient application rates to be employed. What needs to be remembered is that each individual nutrient has a role to play in plant production, they should not be considered in isolation as it is only when the correct mix of nutrients are applied that it can grow optimally.
The three key building blocks are Nitrogen for yield and protein, Phosphate which is key to root development and something most livestock units are rich in from manures and Potash which controls the movement and storage of solutions in the plant and essential for normal drought resistance which has a direct impact on overall nutrition take up, photosynthesis and therefore plant growth.
In addition to these elements, Sulphur is more important than ever given that atmospheric deposits are now running at the lowest historic levels. Closely linked to yield and quality, it is proven that Sulphur will improve both.
We are in an era where precision farming is a hot topic, the aim being to assess and manage variations in the field accurately of which all aspects, soil, weather, vegetation and water can vary markedly. In my opinion, by recognising one of the best assets your farm has, the soil, improving its health is an effective strategy that will enhance nutrient take up, forage production in both yield and quality at the same time benefiting animal health, and something that can be maximised cost effectively.
Wynnstay’s team of specialists use their extensive technical knowledge to develop bespoke fertiliser programmes to each customer’s requirements. We understand the importance of analysing individual conditions and by understanding the strengths and weakness of the soil, we can increase the efficiency of the fertiliser therefore improving plant growth. Our aim is to maximise the return on your investment.
Arable Trade Manager
t: 01939 211264 m: 07469 859673