9 June 1995

Organic fertiliser claim

AN UPDATED version of traditional organic-based fertilisers is claimed to offer significant yield and quality benefits, plus a reduced risk of leaching.

HumberPalmers organic-based products from Sheppy Fertilisers contain conventional mineral nutrients – ammonium sulphate, potassium chloride, single super phosphate – plus a "secret" organic constituent. That vegetable-based component ensures phased release of nutrient, says Sheppy chairman David Stevens. "We believe there is a technological basis to the effect."

Trials show better results from the compound product than its individual constituents used alone. "Were not sure what is happening, but it may be that the availability of other nutrients ensures more N can be taken up and used by the crop," says Mr Stevens.

Pot trials using Italian ryegrass at the Centre of Technical Research in Ghent, Belgium, compared HumberPalmers No 11 10:5:16 fertiliser, which includes 31.5 units of sulphate and costs £150/t, with an FAO reference fertiliser. The high grade FAO product generally outperforms top grade commercial mineral fertilisers by 15-20%.

But Humberpalmers gave a 35% boost to dry matter content, equivalent to a 6-7.4t/ha (2.5-3t/acre) boost to silage fresh weight. Major nutrient uptake was better – with 85% nitrogen recovery, compared with 55% for a typical mineral fertiliser. After three cuts phosphate uptake rose by 23% and potassium by 30%.

"In more than 18 years of testing fertiliser against FAO reference fertiliser, I have never come across such a remarkable product," says project leader Prof Kiekens. High dry matter yields from three harvests show "remarkable phased release properties," he adds.

"We hope this will help move this sort of product out of the muck and mystery era into the 20th century," says marketing director Alan Moon.

Prices range from £148-162/t for a range of 20 fertiliser grades.