7 March 1997

N testing cash benefits

TESTING soil for nitrogen before sowing and modifying fertiliser applications accordingly can give benefits of up to £32/ha (£12/acre) according to a project report funded by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority grower levy.

The finding is based on work by SAC Edinburgh, which selected 10 fields destined for spring barley in the Lothians. None of the fields had been in grass in the recent past, each was down to cereals. Sampling was on a 30m grid.

By modifying nitrogen rate according to those figures rather than using standard recommendation, yield and quality could have been enhanced resulting in a theoretical £32/ha lift in margin. That would offset the cost of sampling and analysis, says the HGCA. Nitrate leaching would have also been cut by up to 9%. &#42