Farmer Focus: OSR receiving variable-rate liquid fertiliser

Has spring sprung? We seem to have managed to string a few dry and noticeably warmer days together.

Oilseed rape crops have certainly responded to the lengthening daylight, with some new top growth visible.

Ground conditions on the oilseed rape fields are now dry enough for us to travel and, as a result, we have been busy applying some fertiliser.

See also: Cultivation trial shows min-till success on heavy clay soils

We do this with the aid of a Yara N-Sensor, using the “Absolute-N” program to variably apply a liquid fertiliser blend of nitrogen and sulphur.

The program measures the biomass and chlorophyll of the crop and can make an accurate assessment of the amount of nitrogen held within the crop canopy as the sprayer passes through.  

The required balance is then delivered to the crop via artificial fertiliser.

This is a double application process, with the first spray aiming to supply the crop with about 150kg/ha of nitrogen and the second aiming to lift this to a total of 250kg/ha.

For more than 10 years, we have used this system to apply our nitrogen/sulphur requirements to the crop and have been very pleased with the results.

This year, we found applications on a field-by-field basis to vary from an average first application of 77kg/ha of nitrogen on the most forward crops to an average of 116kg/ha on the most backward ones.

This technology allows us to accurately supply nitrogen fertiliser to meet the crop’s needs and makes both environmental and economic sense.

We have also been ploughing land destined for spring beans with the hope to have it sown within the next few days.

We are sowing two varieties this year – Cartouche is our main choice, with a 4ha block of Yukon.  

Yukon has the unique benefit of being ready to harvest up to two weeks ahead of its competitors – a characteristic that is very appealing to northern growers.

There is nothing more frustrating than having to rustle up a harvest team to combine beans when we are flat out sowing winter cereals.

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