Sulphur deficiency hits barley yields by up to 1t/ha

Sulphur deficiency on susceptible soils can result in barley yield losses of up to one tonne per hectare, according to latest research.

In five out of eight Home Grown Cereals Authority-funded trials, significant yield responses were found when sulphur was applied as gypsum at varying rates to Pearl and Optic barley.

Yield increases ranged from 0.2 to 1.2 tonnes/ha, with the rate of sulphur producing maximum yield typically ranging from 10 to 20kg S/ha, the results showed.

“Sulphur deficiency has become more widespread and affects an increasing range of crops which now includes malting barley,” said HGCA director of research, Graham Jellis.

“Growers should locate their farm on a sulphur deficiency risk map to determine the likely risk of sulphur deficiency by location and soil type. In a medium or high risk area, test soil in spring for soil extractable S.”

If extractable S is below 5mg/kg soil, a sulphate-containing fertiliser should be applied at 10-20kg S/ha with the main nitrogen or top-dressing in mid-March to mid-April, he advised.

More information can be found in HGCA Topic Sheet no.90 ‘Sulphur for yield and quality in malting barley’, available at