28 February 1997

Solomon kit makes testing for nitrogen a simple operation

MORE precise timing of nitrogen applications which better meet crop needs and cut leaching are the twin claims of a new system on offer this spring.

The Solomon system is a simple method for measuring soil nitrate levels in individual fields. It has been developed and introduced by Independent Agriculture consultants John Haywood and Vince Dempsey, operating from Greets Farm, Welburn, near York.

Reflectometer technology offers a quick and affordable means of establishing nitrate levels in soil, plant and water from which accurate fertiliser programmes can be based, explains Mr Haywood. It will be available to agronomists and individual farmers.

The three-part test kit costs £549, plus £150 for a set of suction lysimeters which provide samples of soil water from 30 and 60cm (12-24in) depths. Each reflectometer test uses an indicator strip costing 25p. The degree of accuracy is within 3% of any laboratory test, Mr Haywood claims.

Suitable for a wide range of crops, but tested largely on cereals, Mr Haywood says nitrate readings from the suction samplers provide a clear picture of leaching losses and plant uptake of available nitrogen. The samplers can be left in place or moved about the farm.

Readings, taken on a weekly basis from mid-February are followed by plant sap testing at first node, second node and GS 37.

The on-farm readings are compared with a computer programme, which takes into account varietal differences. The result is a specific nitrogen recommendation.

"Solomon gives an accurate picture of soil and sap nitrate levels post winter, and tracks the fate of any nitrogen top dressing applied," explains Mr Haywood. "That allows more detailed consideration to be given before the next application and for adjustments to be made for each field and crop." &#42

Testing soil nitrate levels is simplicity itself with the Solomon System, says Independent Agricultures John Haywood.


SOLOMON SYSTEM


&#8226 Checks N in soil, sap and water.

&#8226 Portable kit for field use.

&#8226 Data entered into computer.

&#8226 Specific field advice on fertiliser use.

&#8226 Cost £549, plus £150 for lysimeter suction tubes.