8 March 2002

AN pips urea in trial

WHETHER low cost urea or higher cost ammonium nitrate can boost cereal margins most remains a hotly contested issue.

But new results from a Hydro-backed trial at Dalgety Arables Throws Farm development centre in Essex suggest a switch to urea could be a false economy.

AN gave a better margin over fertiliser cost than urea in winter wheats Consort and Xi19 and winter barley Siberia.

"Margin over fertiliser cost was £53/ha higher for the Consort, £18/ha higher for Xi19 and £30/ha for Siberia," says Hydro plant nutritionist Miles Harriman.

Throws Farms chalky boulder clay makes the results particularly interesting, says Dalgety technical development manager Mike Jeffes. "Considering the problems associated with urea usage are normally linked to light or high pH soils, the results could actually be on the conservative side."

Although the trials spread both products evenly, in practice the poorer spreading characteristics of prilled urea could bring further disadvantages, he notes. "Growers need to look for best value and not just lowest price." &#42