Archive Article: 1998/06/20

20 June 1998

DO we lose anything by ploughing down P and K fertiliser, rather than spreading on to a prepared seedbed?

Duncan Brightman,

South View, Green End,

Little Staughton

Bedford MK44 2BU


THE short answer is no. But then you have to consider the soil indices for both phosphorus and potassium and the depth of ploughing.

Most growers will have a soil analysis carried out every five years, or possibly three years in some cases. Most soils are soil index 2 or above for these. At index three we are talking about maintenance dressings only from time to time and I dont think it will make any difference at all how P and K are introduced.

At index one, more regular applications are needed but again there should be little difference in application methods.

However, it is important to keep the nutrient level of the top soil high so growers should not be ploughing too deeply in an index one situation. It is very rare to get a response to P & K application because the aim is to supply a maintenance dressing.

If it is a new field, or growers are not sure of the indices, then they do need to get a soil analysis.

John Williams,

soil scientist, ADAS Boxworth, Cambs.

THE grower wont lose much on the potash side as long as he isnt ploughing down below the rooting depth; it might be important to have the nutrient in the topmost layer for a shallow rooting crop such as lettuce. Top dressing may place the phosphorus in the top 4-5mm where it can be beneficial to some crops because of the even distribution.

For a sugar beet grower, however, ploughing down potash rather than incorporating wont make a difference.

With phosphorus there might be a difference. Ploughing for sugar beet is normally done in the previous autumn for spring seeding so there is a possibility of some phosphate becoming locked up over the winter.

However, the act of ploughing down doesnt cause problems as long as you dont plough below the rooting depth of the crop which can be quite extensive for crops such as wheat and sugar beet, certainly below the 30cm to which most people will plough.

Ian Richards,

Levington Agriculture, Ipswich, Suffolk.

Deliver the goods, please…

AFTER reading the reports in Crops (w/e 6 June) on agrochemical importing, I have to ask the question – when is a chemical manufacturer not a chemical supplier?

The facts are:

1 During 1998, Pulsar, Epic, Compass, Terpal and Opus have been unavailable for use by many farmers at the optimum timing.

2 Many distributors are pressured by the manufacturers before the spring spraying season to establish likely required volumes of products. This means they need almost to second guess weather patterns for the following five months.

3Prices charged to distributors are in many cases not given on order placement dates, just a vague promise that "We will supply you".

4 Most farmers with a responsible attitude would like to practice integrated crop management, benefiting both the cropping and environmental balances on the farm.

5 Because of the inability of the distributor, and therefore the farmer, to obtain sufficient supplies of the required product at the optimum time, the farmer is more likely to stock up earlier with products which he thinks he may use. This, in tight economic times, will encourage use of products in stock, which may not be ideal for the job, at the expense of considerations towards environment and integrated crop management.

6 It would appear certain agrochemical manufacturers are more interested in the bottom line of stock carry-over costs than in supplying the very market which put them where they are now. They need to understand that they work in an agricultural world which cant be governed by exact prediction and accountants.

7 Many of the aforementioned products are produced by BASF which promotes integrated crop management. In one of its own publications it is stated that: The key is forward planning and control should be achieved by an integrated strategy using all available options and later the fundamental requirement is for the most appropriate product to be applied to the target area at the correct dose, at the optimum timing.

So: Being A Sceptical Farmer…

Suggestion 1

Company manufacturers should get their act together for next season and not expect unrealistic financial pressures to work in an agricultural industry more dominated by practicalities and the climate variations.

Suggestion 2

A practical common sense explanation of 1998 and a coherent plan for 1999 by some of the major manufacturers – not financial control excuses.

Peter Gadd,

Hollygate Farm, Stragglethorpe, Notts

…we did, mostly

FORWARD planning is a pre-requisite for the efficient running of any organisation, be it manufacturer, distributor or farmer.

As a responsible supplier, we do understand the needs and vagaries of our market. It is for this precise reason that we work closely with our distributors who are best able to reflect local requirements.

With specific reference to the BASF products quoted, the following are the facts:

Terpal: Total availability of our late cereal plant growth regulators are 50% above 1997 sales; with farm sales by the end of April being 2.75 times higher than the same period last year.

Opus and Epic: Both have been under phenomenal demand when one considers that we have also introduced the new kresoxim-methyl + epoxiconazole co-formulations.

Total availability of all our epoxiconazole products will be approximately double the sales in 1997; and by the end of April farm sales of Opus and Epic were 2.4 times higher than in 1997.

Pulsar: Unfortunately production problems did mean that the product was not supplied in time meet early usage. For that BASF apologises.

Where possible we have tried to anticipate and respond to customer needs. In this context we believe it is essential to work closely with our distributors in trying to meet the needs of the UK market.

John Bedford, BASF, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire.

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