15 December 1995

Scots cereals are short of copper

FARMERS are not paying enough attention to copper shortages, according to Dr Sinclair.

"It is a particular problem in Scotland where we estimate 30% of cereal land may have copper levels low enough to impair grain yield or quality," he told the Fife meeting.

"Grain reductions of up to 20% are not uncommon in field trials and yield can fall without visual symptoms," he said. Trials show potentially high-yielding crops are more efficient at obtaining copper from the soil, because of a more efficient root system.

Copper applied to the soil lasts up to 10 years. But there is a risk of insufficient soil mixing in the first year, so Dr Sinclair advises a foliar application for the first crop.

"One convenient method might be to spray the stubble with 5kg/ha of copper oxychloride and follow up with a foliar spray at 0.5kg/ha for the first crop."Dr Sinclair advised Scottish farmers to test soils for copper. "It only costs an extra £5.90 per field when you are having the soil tested.