A range of updates to CF Fertilisers’ nitrogen management services is being introduced for 2021 to help growers use fertilisers as effectively as possible in light of new production and environmental challenges.

Improvements will include a new nationwide network of testers to make sampling simpler, the introduction of a ‘protein prediction’ test for milling wheat producers and greater online support for growers.

“Accurate and timely analysis of soil N content is becoming an increasingly important element of on-farm risk management planning as climatologists agree growers can expect more variable growing conditions in the future,” explained the company’s Ross Leadbeater.

“The UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology has recently said that whilst 2020 was the worst production year of the last 25, the extreme conditions that caused it are likely to become more commonplace in the UK in the years ahead.

“Soil N content varies widely year on year depending on the weather and accurate analysis of this is a vital starting point in planning fertiliser applications accurately so N utilisation and cost efficiency of production are maximised and potential environmental impacts minimised.

“This is also of growing importance in light of the use of organic materials and manures now being used in arable production systems which throw another variable into the crop production mix.”

CF Fertilisers said that simple assays of soil mineral nitrogen (SMN) are insufficient to provide the accuracy needed for future fertiliser planning, so total soil nitrogen supply (SNS) will be the foundation of an updated N-Min service moving forward, he added.

“SNS takes into account N that will be mineralised and made available to plants as the season develops whereas SMN is just a snapshot of N in the soil at the time of the test.

“Without taking into account this extra soil N, growers risk applying too much fertiliser and in the modern world of responsible crop production and fertiliser use this is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Improvement to the N-Min service for 2021 will come from a new nationwide network of samplers to make the process simpler. There will also be a ‘protein prediction’ test for milling wheat producers available.