FARMERS are using fertiliser more efficiently as nutrients continue to be adjusted more precisely to crop needs. That is the reaction of Fertiliser Manufacturers Association president Tony Robinson to news that total nitrogen use in 1998 was about 10% below the peak applied in the mid-1980s.
The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice found that overall applications of nitrogen in 1998 fell by 5kg/ha (4 units/acre) and 14kg/ha (11 units/acre) respectively in Great Britain, more than offsetting the increases recorded in 1997.
Phosphate rates dropped by 4kg/ha (3 units/acre) on both field crops and grassland, while potash use decreased by 3kg/ha (2.5 units/acre) and 6kg/ha (5 units/acre) respectively after rises in both nutrients in 1997.
Sulphur use seems to have stabilised, but will need to expand as areas of Britain gradually become deficient, says the FMA.
• From today the new FMA director general is David Heather.