19 January 1996

Sulphur survey reveals users want to know more about it

&#8226 365 responses at Cereals 95.

&#8226 Half had used S recently.

&#8226 NS products most popular.

&#8226 53% didnt know whether they needed to use it.

&#8226 More users base treatment on crop look than tissue tests.

&#8226 Non-users rely heavily on advisers.

sulphur survey

MOST farmers take the issue of sulphur nutrition for crops seriously and want to know more about it, according to an RASE survey sponsored by Kemira Fertilisers.

More than a third of 1000 RASE farmer members and visitors to Cereals 95 responded to the questionnaire. Almost three-quarters of them described their main soil type as medium or heavy.

Of the 365 replies, 19% said they knew they would have to use sulphur in the future, and 51% said they would probably do so when convinced of the need. Only 1% regarded sulphur as "a gimmick".

Half the respondents had not used sulphur fertilisers recently. Among those who had, solid N with S fertiliser was the most popular (40% of users) followed by foliar S (30%).

According to Alan Spedding, RASE communications development manager, farmers seem more keen to assess whether they need sulphur on their farms than they are to find out how and why it works.

"More than half (53%) said they did not know whether they needed to use it or not." Of those not using it last year, only 16% anticipated doing so this season.

Sulphur was applied most often to oilseed rape and winter wheat. Only 12-13% put it on grass.

Among farmers already using sulphur, "visual impression" of crops was the main way they assessed need, 47% using this method. Tissue tests and combine yield monitoring accounted for 29% each.

But agronomist recommendation figured strongly as an influence among current non-users when attempting to establish need. Along with crop and soil analysis it was the most frequently mentioned approach.

Only 12% of all respondents considered there might be disadvantages from using sulphur, the most prominent mentioned being trace element interactions.

The survey suggests relatively few farmers rate their main source of information on the element highly. However, nearly a third failed to offer their opinion.

* Sulphur Survey Report costs £5 from Alan Spedding, RASE, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warks CV8 2LZ.

&#8226 For more details on the need for sulphur turn to page S8 of the Fertiliser Supplement in this issue. &#42