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Farming Talk: Nutrient plan can yield significant gains

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Time spent working out a farm nutrient management plan will help output and cut production costs, GrowHow & Wynnstay are advising farmers.

A nutrient plan is not just about bags of fertiliser – it looks at the energy (ME) and nutrient needs across the whole farm to calculate where farmers can balance manure and fertiliser inputs to optimise grass and crop yields.

"We tend to think of a nutrient management plan as just balancing manure and soil nutrients with purchased fertilisers," said GrowHow consultant Dr George Fisher.

"But we must also be thinking about how the plan fits into the farming system to get the most out of home-grown grass and forage energy," he said.

Getting the balance right between increasing production of home-grown feed and using purchased feeds efficiently is an area to consider.

Anything you can grow on the farm is more cost-effective in providing energy for your milk or meat production systems and these issues are increasingly important with the current market pressures in the grassland farming sector.

"Nutrient planning as well as grassland management and crop selection are really about taking steps to increase efficiency and reduce costs with the land you've got," George said.

"These steps can be relatively small changes or an overhaul of the whole system – it really depends on where the farm is now and what the aim is."

GrowHow has recently carried out new research that suggests some farmers could make significant gains through some small changes.

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One piece of work showed how maintenance dressing of phosphate at soil index two or three can increase yield by 12 per cent in silage crops.

Other work has shown the importance of sulphur applications for both quality, protein and yield.

To find out more about sulphur or these latest trial results order a copy of the brochure at www.growhow.co.uk/media-centre/brochures or call the fertiliser department at Wynnstay on (01939) 211266.

  • Dave Mitchell is fertiliser manager for Wynnstay plc

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