The Key Role of Nutrient Management
Posted on December 8, 2011
Nutrient management is basically the responsible use of fertiliser. The aim of Goulding Fertilisers is to supply maximum information and choice of product for farmers to provide optimum yields for them while minimising pollution to the environment.
Responsible nutrient management takes into account many factors to give a balanced approach:
- Soil Analysis: Should be carried out regularly to determine the fertility status of the soil before making cropping decisions for the forthcoming year.
- pH Analysis: A soil test will give a pH reading and a lime requirement if necessary. If the soil is not at optimum pH then only a fraction of the nutrients within the soil will be available to the plants for uptake. This leads to locking-up of nutrients.
- Soil type: Different soil types react in different ways to nutrient / lime application. E.g. peat soils when limed can release up to 20 units of extra N (nitrogen) per acre per year. Free-draining soils are more prone to leeching of nutrients. Soil type should be factored in when calculating fertiliser rates.
- Cropping history: Different crops deplete the soil nutrient levels by different amounts. E.g. a maize crop will use about 200 units of K (potassium) per acre in a growing season while a crop of spring barley will use only about 75 units K per acre.
- Organic manures used: See the Fertiliser Index System for a table on the value of slurry and manures.
- Requirements of crop: Each crop has different nutrient requirements as can be seen in the recommendation section of this site. Nutrient requirements can also vary depending on projected crop yields or participation in REPS, etc.
- Topography: This is basically the lie of the land. Applied nutrients can easily be lost from steep slopes if spread in unfavourable weather conditions when ground cover is minimal.
5 Key Steps to Nutrient Management
- Draw up a nutrient management plan: This plan includes a soil test, knowledge of crop requirements, a value for nutrients supplied by organic manures and correct recommendations to provide optimum yields without pollution.
- Use the spreading code of good practice: Use these guidelines for spreading to avoid possible fertiliser wastage. E.g. spreading at the wrong time of year can lead to inefficiencies in crop growth.
- Time application correctly: Spreading at the optimum stage of crop growth and using a ‘little and often’ approach to fertiliser application will help maximise crop potential.
- Choose balanced products: Gouldings have the widest range of products on the market to accurately meet all nutrient requirement situations.
- Consult the recommendations: Use the product recommendations set out in this website to meet Irish crop requirements accurately and avoid pollution to the environment.
- EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency has highlighted a problem with Irish water quality and the continuous pollution of the waterways. In the past, the view of the EPA was that the use of fertiliser was to blame for a percentage of this pollution. We would argue strongly against this view as it is an ABUSE of fertiliser which may lead to pollution. It is in the interest of every farmer to get the best use out of all fertiliser bought, minimise waste and possible pollution.
- Products: Gouldings are continually developing its product range to meet the specific requirements of all crops and soil types. We are constantly monitoring the soil test results from Johnstown Castle and developing products to counteract the issues being found. E.g. to counteract the problem with trace element deficiencies in Irish soils, we now offer a range of balanced products containing trace elements.
- Recommendations: The recommendations set out in our website are developed in conjunction with Johnstown Castle trials.
- Lime: Lime is a fundamental input. Without the soil being at optimum pH, full value cannot be obtained from fertiliser inputs. Gouldings launched GRAN – LIME in 2004. This is a very fast acting lime in a concentrated, granulated form with the ability to raise soil pH in a matter of weeks. This is a huge progression in nutrient management as it makes liming more convenient and accurate.