SULPHUR and phosphorus could be the focus of greater attention in the future and IGER researchers are warning producers to consider methods of cutting pollution risks.
Increasing sulphur deficiency due to reductions in industry emissions could mean sulphur applications will have to be increased to maximise grass growth.
But this increases pollution risks both directly and indirectly, according to IGER researcher David Scholefield.
"A major problem is surface run-off on heavier soils and the extra sulphur applied could enter water courses easily if no precautions are taken," says Dr Scholefield.
In addition when sulphur is deficient, nitrogen uptake is lower, leaving more nitrates in the soil which are then prone to leaching, he explains.
At IGERs North Wyke research centre, buffer zones between farm land and waterways have been established to limit leaching.
"The effectiveness of various widths of buffer zones comprising rough grass, trees and shrubs have been studied.
Water run-off was slowed by the zone and the plants removed much of the nutrients before they reached the watercourse.
The most effective width was about 25m (85ft) where run off levels containing nitrate at 10-15ppm before the zone were cut to 1ppm and from 50ppm pre-buffer zone to 10ppm. *