Improving Nitrogen fertiliser Use Efficiency (NfUE) will be one of the most important ways in which UK growers can improve their business productivity in the future.
The single most important decision you can make to maximise your NfUE lies in the type of fertiliser you choose in the first place, says CF Fertilisers’ head agronomy Dr. Sajjad Awan. Whilst good management can help finetune the effectiveness of your applications, start with the wrong Nitrogen source and you’ll be locked into lower levels of NfUE with little you can do to lift it, he says.
“NfUE is essentially a measure of how much of the Nitrogen applied ends up in the crop. “In simple terms, if you apply 100kg N/ha and only 50kg N/ha is taken up by your crop, you will have an NfUE of 50% and half of the N you have paid for has gone somewhere other than into your crops as intended “Improving NfUE benefits your crop, your pocket and the wider environment.
Whether you are looking at it from the perspective of clean air, reducing your carbon footprint or increasing production efficiency, loss of N from the cropping system is a major problem.”
Farm trails prove Nitram to be the best choice
Nitram (34.5%N) has proved itself time and time again to be the best choice for achieving optimum NfUEs in the UK’s maritime climate, he says.
“NfUE gains achieved by AN over other forms of solid and liquid Nitrogen used on farm today are typically 10 – 15%.”
But across UK national trials and our own farm trials, fertiliser systems based around Nitram and our AN-based True Granular Compounds can achieve NfUEs of 80% and above compared to the 50 - 60% of many other systems.
“Nitram has half the carbon footprint of other sources of AN and, being British made, it has a shorter and simpler supply chain with significantly less ‘fertiliser miles’ involved as well."
“Another key advantage is that it can be spread reliably and accurately to 36m with recent trials carried out by fertiliser spreader and calibration specialists SCS confirming this across a range of the most popular spreaders.”
Getting more out of every Kg of fertiliser you apply will be essential in maximising your margins and meeting your environmental obligations in the future, Sajjad Awan adds.
“Maximising NfUE can help you produce the highest yields at the best quality whilst minimising the potential environmental impact of your production.”
5 ways you can maximise NfUE
1. Set realistic yield expectations
Start by thinking about what yields you can realistically achieve and the markets you are aiming for.
2. Measure to manage Nitrogen
Soil Mineral Nitrogen testing (SMN) is only a snapshot in time whereas a CF N-Min test
includes vital Additionally Available Nitrogen (AAN) which will indicate all the N available
to your crop as the season develops.
3. Use only what you need
Use N-Min to set a baseline for calculating precise N requirements. Too much N will reduce your NfUE as will too little as your crop’s full potential will not have been reached.
4. Balance crop nutrient demand
Other key nutrients help drive efficient N utilisation, so make sure you also test for Potash, Phosphate, Magnesium and Sulphur.
CF Fertilisers UK Ltd assumes no liability for reliance on, or any errors or omissions in, the information provided in this document. For a precise farm
specific recommendation please contact your FACTS Qualified Adviser.
Don’t forget Sulphur
Sulphur is also essential in driving N utilisation plus it’s an important component in the proteins needed for achieving the highest milling specifications, Sajjad Awan says. “There’s much less in the atmosphere than there used to be so supplementing N fertilisers with Sulphur is important. “True granular compounds such as CF DoubleTop (27N + 30SO3), SingleTop (27N + 12SO3) and our NPKS products provide a range of options to suit all situations.”