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Switching fertiliser types to ensure soil micronutrient requirements are met this spring could offer growers multiple benefits, say suppliers. Maximising inputs is understandably a... Granular nutrition offers growers multiple benefits

Switching fertiliser types to ensure soil micronutrient requirements are met this spring could offer growers multiple benefits, say suppliers.

Maximising inputs is understandably a high priority for growers. But prescription nutrition – optimising productivity by ensuring fertiliser usage is as efficient as possible – has become increasingly important.

“Making every pound go further than it did in previous seasons is key, and part of this will be down to supplying the crop with the right blend of nutrients to maximise yield and quality,” says Toby Ward, nutrition agronomist at Origin Fertilisers.

Some prescription options that were familiar to growers may not be available, which could force users to explore alternatives. Granular prescription nutrition applications are tailored to match soil requirements based on test data, says Mr Ward.

Local knowledge

Micronutrients play an important role in any nutrition strategy. Services like Origin’s Nutri-Match tailor fertiliser products to soil and crop requirements. Crops receive exactly what is required – and investment in fertiliser is maximised.

Getting the most from this service requires in-depth analysis of soils and tailored advice to meet crop needs. “We need to create prescriptive grades that target deficiencies in the soil or maintain existing nutrients at plant available levels,” says Mr Ward.

“We should be making farmers question if the fertiliser they have used in the past is the right one, and this can only happen with local knowledge and time spent on farm.”

Crop quality and yield will always be limited by the most deficient nutrient in the soil – and crops will soon show obvious signs of nutrient shortage, adds Mr Ward.

Using qualified advice can highlight where the addition of secondary nutrients, and increasing levels of micronutrients, will have a direct influence on raising the availability of others in the nutrient profile.

Changing strategies

One grower who has changed his nutrition strategy is Jack Olding, who manages Suffolk-based Sovereign Turf. He now controls the whole process once the fertiliser is delivered to the farm – and applies it according to conditions and the crop.

The change from suspension liquid to granular base fertiliser for turf crops has maintained access to a wide variety of prescription nutrition, says Mr Olding. This has brought extra benefits for his business, he adds.

Liquid fertiliser is still used for top dressings. But Mr Olding has adopted a granular base fertiliser to include micronutrients in each bag and add slower release major nutrients. This allows the fertiliser to be available to the crop for longer.

“The change has allowed me to improve the timings of fertiliser application, offering the flexibility to place the nutrition where the crops need it, without any delays to establishment.”

Flexible applications

Mr Olding started using the granular base fertiliser because it offered more flexibility during application. The capacity to tailor fertiliser better suits the needs of his crops and the soil has seen no negative effects, he says.

Origin can produce blends to suit Mr Olding’s requirements.

This means a better base fertiliser is applied in a single pass. Mr Olding now specifies a variety of micronutrients in one bag. The granular product has been as flexible as the liquid suspension fertiliser he used before – but with no deterioration in quality.

Another key fact is that local knowledge at Origin has helped tailor nutrition requirements to Mr Olding’s business. It is key to working with suppliers to find solutions on an individual basis, he says.

“We can prescribe fertiliser on a field-by-field system if required and being able to work closely with nutritionists makes this process easier and quicker to find solutions to any issues we have.”