Calibrating spreaders has never been more important – that's the message from Origin Fertilisers and Spreader and Sprayer Testing (SCS).

Recent headlines have focused on UK and European nitrogen producers reducing or turning off production facilities after record gas cost increases. Coupled with strong global demand for all fertilisers plus spiralling shipping costs, the whole fertiliser supply chain is under considerable strain.

Each year, British farmers typically use 4m tonnes – 25% of which is manufactured in GB, 60% imported from Europe and 15% from the rest of the world. Even if farmers reduce their nitrogen application in line with RB209’s economic optimum, more imported product will likely be needed compared to a normal year.

Read more: Fertiliser costs rocket

To help farmers, Origin Fertilisers is working alongside calibration experts, SCS, to help gain a better understanding of the characteristics of different sources of imported nitrogen and has produced a four-part tray test:

1, An MOT-style test involving a thorough examination of the machine and all its working parts to make sure it is working correctly before the tray test;

2, A check of the fertiliser characteristics – including bulk density, crush strength and size – which determine how the product spreads and can identify variation between batches;

3, A full-width tray test with material being collected and a coefficient of variation calculated, tray testing until an acceptable spread pattern is achieved ensuring the application is as even as possible across the crop;

4, A detailed report of the findings.