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The Value of Nutrient Budgeting and Funding Availability

25 May 2023

This article is produced as a part of the FAS Crops & Soils Bulletin. Subscribe now to receive the full report in your inbox monthly.

Fertiliser prices continue to drop to some degree with April 2023 price for ammonium nitrate at £439/tonne which is down £346/tonne on the year, but still up £158 / tonne on what it was in April 2021. Source MOP and TSP have also seen some drops since 2022 but remain expensive at £559 / tonne and £546/tonne respectively. Although there are some savings having been made on the year, it is still important to make sure you are making the most of fertiliser inputs and accurately accounting for organic manures.

There are options available to supply P&K using organic manures and products such as anaerobic digestate or layer manure. However, most crops will still have a need for manufactured nitrogen. Generally, organic manures work out as a cheaper source of nutrients than manufactured fertilisers even when factoring in the increased costs to spread. However, the availability of haulage and storage of organic manures remains a challenge for many. There are many things farmers can do to help tailor fertiliser applications, one being to analyse the organic manures available on the farm. This is a small additional cost given the potential fertiliser it can save and is becoming more common practice on many farms. Results often show greater total nutrients than standard book values giving a bigger opportunity to save money on purchased P&K.

Preparing a full nutrient budget can give you a tailored field by field plan with the opportunity to save money on inputs. A full nutrient budget will take account for soil analysis, soil type, crop, market, yield, straw offtake, phosphate sorption capacity and if on grazing, site class, establishment, and grazing management. The comprehensive plan can make sure that you are only applying nutrients where they are required and not applying in addition to or short of crop requirements.

For a more in-depth review of nutrient management the Farm Advisory Service currently offers £1,000 of specialist funding towards a soil and nutrient management plan. You can apply on the link below or talk to your local consultant.  The link to technical notes can also aid in the nutrient budget process.

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