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OSR yields increased by 4.1% when fertiliser applied in bands at seeding

Further evidence that applying fertiliser in bands in line with oilseed rape seed will boost yields has been demonstrated following analysis of crop performance data at Masstock’s SMART farm at Lincoln. Trial plots fertilised in bands using OPICO’s Ferticast produced yields 4.1% higher than plots where the granular fertiliser had been broadcast.

In the 2008/9 SMART farm trial, granular ammonium nitrate fertiliser was applied at the same time as the oilseed rape was sown in rows. The fertiliser was either broadcast across the width of the drill at a rate of 15 kg N/ha, or an OPICO Ferticast was used to place the fertiliser by the seed in bands, effectively concentrating the fertiliser to an equivalent rate of 45 kg N/ha.

Although the trial plots were not replicated, the results support previous findings. Applying fertiliser at sowing increased yields by 4.7% alone, from 4.73t/ha to 4.95t/ha. This demonstrates the benefits of having nutrients immediately available at crop establishment.

Secondly, comparing the different methods of fertiliser application, average yields were 4.1% higher, at 5.05t/ha, following banded application – an increase of 0.2t/ha over the broadcast method.

OPICO’s James Woolway adds: “Whilst yield benefits are the ultimate aim of utilising a Ferticast or Nitrojet to apply solid or liquid fertiliser respectively at seeding, many farmers have been looking at this technique as a belt and braces approach to ensuring good autumn establishment.

“After last year’s late drilling and cold wet autumn led to crop failures and re-drilling, farmers have been looking for an insurance policy to be sure of a healthy strong plant that will survive the winter. This autumn has been much easier in terms of putting crop in the ground, however many areas have suffered from very low rainfall. Precision applying nitrogen at drilling has once again shown benefits.”

OPICO and Masstock are again running trials at 17 Smart farms this rape-growing season. At some sites a Ferticast has been used to apply solid fertiliser at the same time as till-seeding. At others, OMEX liquid fertiliser has been applied at different rates using the new Nitro-Jet, launched earlier this year. Visitors to the Smart farm open days this autumn and throughout next year will be able to see the positive effects on crop performance for themselves.

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