Brexit: Valuing your nutrients to prepare for BREXIT
With Brexit comes uncertainty and market volatility. To prepare our businesses for Brexit we need to properly value and account for our inputs. Nutrient planning/budgeting seeks to identify improper crop nutrition, identifying where nutrients are over applied or under applied. Nutrient planning can lead to significant financial savings, it also reduces the risk of losing nutrients into the environment and causing pollution. Nutrient planning can identify where a nutrient excess or deficit has occurred. Correcting the excess will save money by reducing the amount of fertiliser used. Correcting the deficit may cost more money as more fertiliser may need to be purchased, however, the crop will yield higher and also be of a higher nutritional value increasing the yield/output per hectare.
Nutrient planning allows us to plan the year’s application of bagged fertiliser and organic manures. Manures, slurries and other organic wastes should be understood and treated like bagged fertiliser, judged on their nutrient content. The Nutrient planning process ensures that the crops grown will receive sufficient nutrition but no more than the crop and field requires. To create an effective nutrient plan, the following must be known/accounted for;
- Crop requirement
- This is what the crop being grown requires to grow with nutrients not being a limiting factor.
- Standard data found in SRUC Technical Notes 633, 649, 650, 651, 652, 655 and 668 or the Nutrient Management Guide RB209.
- Soil nutrient status
- Discovered through soil sampling.
- pH level affects how efficiently the crop can utilise applied fertiliser.
- Basic sampling typically includes pH, P, K, Na, Mg & Ca.
- Crop Residue
- Previous cropping.
- An example of this is a crop following a legume will require less nitrogen to be applies due to the nitrogen fixation of the legume.
- Nutrient content of any organic waste applied
- Typical values shown in The Farm Management Handbook (page 5, 40th edition). Available at: https://www.fas.scot/publication/farm-management-handbook-2019-20/
- Organic waste sampling is cheap and simple to do. Guidance on how to take a sample is available at https://www.fas.scot/crops-soils/soils/nutrient-planning-videos/
- The availability of nutrients in the organic waste applied to the crop is significantly altered by the timing and method of application, as well as other factors such as temperature, rainfall, crop growth stage and crop health. See SRUC Technical note 650 for further details.
Annual nutrient planning not only helps to identify areas of nutrient excess or deficit, saving money and increasing yield, it also serves as a record of what has been applied in the past. Keeping fertiliser records is required for compliance under NVZ regulations but also for many crop assurance schemes.
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