NUTRIENT AND fertiliser management plans required under new legislation make sound economic sense, says Masstock”s David Langton.

Besides helping protect single farm payments they help ensure crop nutrients are used cost-effectively.

“A lot of professional farms are not doing regular soils samplingg. I know of one 6000-acre estate that just didn’t have any soil analyses. That is fundamentally wrong”

The Water Framework Directive alone is likely to put more pressure on them to be more positive, he believes.

Mixed farms can often make better use of livestock manure, he adds. “It’s not a waste. It’s a very valuable commodity.”

A trial on light land in Cambridge suggests there can be unexpected benefits in winter wheat from phosphate dressing, even where soil reserves seem adequate.

Even at index 2 there were yield responses to added triple super-phosphate – up to 12% more from 85kg/ha.

Although unusual, the result reinforces the message that if the index had been lower but unknown through lack of analysis, the grower could have been losing even more potential.

Sulphur is a vital wheat nutrient that should not be neglected just because the support system has changed. The aim should be to eliminate deficiencies so all inputs can work to best effect, says Mr Langton.

 “If you have a potash deficiency that extra strobilurin could be wasted. Why spend nothing on nutrients and then a lot on fungicides?”