6 October 1995

Phosphate cheer

GROWERS in England and Wales got a pat on the back from Barry Higgs of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association at last weeks International Workshop on "Phosphorus Loss to Water from Agriculture" in Ireland.

In the main they have followed advice on phosphate use, winding down the proportion of soils with extra high indices.

Drought year

Using figures for fertiliser use, average yields and P concentration in crops, the FMA says the national "excess" peaked at 20kg/ha (16 units/acre) of P2O5 in the drought year of 1976. It stayed at about half that until 1988, but has fallen to less than 5kg/ha (4 units/acre) since 1990.

The problem crop is potatoes, said Mr Higgs. Over the past 15 years, this relatively inefficient user of P has left an average annual balance of 165kg/ha (132 units/acre), making rotational planning to mop it up an important exercise.

Turn to p58 for more details.