Planning ahead for NPK application on your spring cereals

As sowing for spring tillage crops approaches, preparation is key. Farmers should have a fertiliser programme in place at this stage, with the assistance of their advisor, for their spring cereals and decide what their rotation will be.

For spring cereals (barley, oats and wheat) it is very important to apply all compounds into your seed bed, and depending on the end destination of your crop, adjust nitrogen (N) timings to suit the end use of grain; for example, for malting barley apply some N to your seed bed to reduce protein.

Demands for high potassium content

In recent years, Target Fertilisers has seen the demand for compounds with high potassium (K) content increase. This is to be expected with increasing yields giving the requirement of over 85kg/ha, depending on the crop being sown.

To this end, many of the compounds developed by Target Fertilisers contain over 20% K and most have added sulphur (S). The S recommendation for cereals is 15kg/ha per season.

This demand has increased over the years for several reasons:

  • Higher yields;
  • Higher crop off-take;
  • Low K status observed from extensive soil testing;
  • Higher yielding varieties.

When adequate K is applied to cereals, it can pay for itself by improving exploitation and N use efficiency in the plant.

Protein content, grain size and quality is increased, resulting in less screenings at harvest. K increases water transpiration and regulation in the plant, which was very evident last year during the drought, where higher yields were consistent with high K application.

Phosphorous (P), similarly to K, will be needed at levels to meet Index 3 status and a top up will be needed for Index 1 and 2 soils to raise the levels.

It should be noted that maximum levels are allowed under the regulations SI 605/2017; therefore, do not exceed those levels, for environmental reasons.

Sulphur – essential in tillage cropping

Sulphur should have its place in all tillage compounds, as it is now considered essential in tillage cropping.

Most tillage soils are sulphur deficient, especially in areas with light or sandy soils and soils with low organic matter. This is because sulphate is mobile, water soluble and easily leached. It is very cost effective as it increases nitrogen efficiency within the plant.

Sulphur is a constituent element of two amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Sulphur is applied at a low level and there are no environmental risks associated.

Target Fertilisers has a wide range of tillage compounds available for Irish farmers. Choose from its extensive range to your meet soil and crop requirements.

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