Elm Farm 2010: Buckwheat to unlock P from soil

Novel crops such as buckwheat could help growers with a low soil P (phosphorous) index or limited access to FYM to still achieve good yields from an organic cereal crop.

The crop, which can be used as organic chicken feed once dehaulmed, could help unlock phosphorus from soil particles, explained Robin Walker, a researcher from the Scottish Agricultural Colleges, to delegates at Elm Farm’s Organic Producer conference.

“Some plants have a natural ability to unlock P from soils. Trial data suggests use of crops such as brassicas and field beans can increase (subsequent) cereal yield by 7-10%,” he explained.

Adding to this armoury was buckwheat, he added. As a spring-sown crop it performed well compared with field beans, red clover and wheat in trials at SAC.

Finding new crops able to extract P from soil or added Rock P was important, he added, not least because supplies of Rock P were limited and suggested to run down around the same time as natural mineral oil used for producing fertilisers.

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