Sulphur shortage makes crops suffer


20 July 2001



Sulphur shortage makes crops suffer


By Andrew Swallow

SULPHUR deficiency seems set to slash the yield of some crops this year after severe winter leaching and an unprecedented drop in deposition levels.

Planning sulphur into next years fertiliser requirements is now a must, says Morley Agricultural Consultants Stephen Keach.

Some of the deficiency symptoms this year are the worst I have seen. If you are not using sulphur fertiliser then you need a very good reason, he says.

Widespread pollination problems are already being linked to sulphur shortfalls in oilseed rape. Click here to see story.

Some cereals are also showing signs of a shortage – classic symptoms are pale, stunted plants.

But growers could mistake it for soil structure problems, warns Mr Keach: It is easy to confuse and does occur in patches, tending to follow soil types.

Tissue tests during normal growing conditions, not drought, should be used to confirm suspicions.

Lighter soils tend to be most deficient, as sulphur, like nitrogen, is leached in wet weather.

“This year early sulphur applications could have been leached before crops really started to grow, so there may be a need to review timings.

On lighter soils there is considerable merit in using a lower sulphur concentration and using it more frequently.”

This year stunting on a winter barley trial where no sulphur has been applied suggests responses could exceed 0.5t/ha, says Mr Keach.

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