In order to maximise nitrogen fertiliser efficiency and keep your crops healthy and productive, it’s vital you take these factors into consideration when you’re deciding how much fertiliser should be applied.
Using A Silage Additive
It is important to remember that the use of a silage additive will not solve all your problems and if you are feeding out poor quality silage you will still be feeding out poor quality silage. The benefits of a silage additive will simply help to minimise losses, maintain quality and maximise feed value. In terms of cost, the price for a silage additive can vary depending on the volume purchased, but would typically cost around £1 per animal per year.
Use of Nitrification Inhibitors
The use of nitrification inhibitors by farmers has been a growing trend in recent years.
Nitrification inhibitors slow the conversion of ammonium to nitrate and thus increase the efficiency of applied fertilisers, both urea and UAN (urea-ammonium-nitrate). Nitrogen is most vulnerable to leaching when it is in nitrate form, so nitrification inhibitors can reduce losses. Their application can also improve nitrogen availability for crops, which may increase yields. Farmers using these products should follow the label recommendations carefully to protect themselves from liability claims from neighbours if there are any problems.
Previous trials at Rothamsted (Bell et al, 2008) have demonstrated that controlled release urea with nitrification inhibitor added overcomes some of the disadvantages associated with its use under UK conditions; however further work is required to determine optimum formulations and application timings for different soil types.
While the use of a nitrification inhibitor can improve N fertiliser efficiency by up to 15%, it’s important to remember that soil moisture and temperature will influence N fertiliser efficiency. This is because in wetter, cooler soils, like those found in the UK, there is a greater risk of volatilisation losses and leaching.
While fertiliser prices have been on the rise, UK farmers can still mitigate their exposure to higher input costs.
Existing technology in the UK, such as nitrification inhibitors and the use of a silage additive to reduce inputs can help farmers manage the cost pressures of higher input costs. Using less fertiliser will reduce losses from water, air and soil pollution and improve soil quality. Best practice techniques such as rotational cropping and using crop nutrients more efficiently can also help keep fertiliser costs down.
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