18 April 1997

Foliar feed can boost cereals

FOLIAR feeding can help drought-stressed winter cereal crops, according to two Cambs companies.

Mark Law of Law Fertilisers, Wisbech, suggests applying 5kg/ha of urea in 200 litres/ha of water, together with 2 litres/ha of 3% Mg, 1% Cu and 1% Mn. Cool evenings are best, at least 24 hours away from fungicide applications. Cost is £1.65/ha for the mix, which should be repeated at 10-day intervals until it rains.

Howard Banks of Huntingdon-based Stefes Plant Protection recommends 25-50 litres/ha of Sunburst, a no-scorch, stable, liquefied urea. If it stays dry a further application may be made after two weeks. Fertiliser N should be adjusted down accordingly, he advises. Cost is £12.50-25/ha.

Morley Research Centres Doug Stevens accepts such methods can green crops for a few days. "But foliar nutrition needs to be repeated little and often. It would be uneconomic to keep doing it. Eventually you come up against sheer water stress."

It is a short-term tonic, Mr Law maintains. "You cant keep going on. Other nutrients are eventually locked up. But it is a relatively cost-effective method for alleviating stress."