Crops could need N soon

19 February 1999

Crops could need N soon

WITH an average of nearly 16% of soil nitrogen lost over winter, many crops will need N soon, says Terra Nitrogen.

But monitoring at 18 English sites on behalf of the company by Levington Agriculture shows wide variations, with N levels on some sandy loams even rising since November.

Heavy rain in places means much of the nitrogen is concentrated below 60cm (24in), says Terras Richard Martin. That means some crops which have poor root development, notably those drilled late or into poor seed-beds, could benefit from early top dressing, he maintains.

But for crops on heavy clay and in relatively dry pockets there may be less urgency, says Levingtons Ian Richards. "The feeling is that losses this year are above average and recommended levels may need to be higher. But it is not uniform, and my personal view is that this can often go on in later dressings."

Ignoring two anomalous results, the average N remaining from 73kg/ha (58 units/acre) in November was 59kg/ha (47 units/acre).

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