Foliar feeds

The Farming For a Better Climate Soil Regenerative Agriculture group have been pushing more on farm trials, this time in relation to the foliar application of fertiliser.

Foliar feeds aim to supply small amounts of nutrient in a targeted manner to potentially increase fertiliser use efficiency and tailor crop nutrition to growth within a season.  It may also have the added benefit of reducing a farms carbon footprint by using less fertiliser, but does it really work?  If so, just how much can we reduce fertiliser use by?

Following on from the positive trials results from the group in 2020, where 100kg/ha nitrogen (N) was applied to range of arable crops, followed by a number of 5kg/ha applications of foliar N, SAC Consulting has secured funding from the Mains of Loirston Charitable Trust to test the effectiveness of this approach in replicated trials.  Ian Bingham, who is leading the project states “the design of the trials will allow us to quantify how much of the N supplied through the soil and leaf is captured by the crop and contributes to yield”.

The trials are at three sites across Scotland; one spring barley and two winter wheat.  Six base rates of fertiliser have been applied to the crops to produce a full fertiliser N response curve. At two rates (100kg/ha and 150kg/ha for winter wheat, but lower for barley) will receive up to three applications of foliar N at 5kg/ha.  Fertiliser uptake will be calculated by measuring the crops nitrogen content at harvest.  This will allow the efficiency of fertiliser use to be compared between treatments.

By Zach Reilly, Agricultural Consultant, SAC Consulting

This article from Farming for a Better Climate was funded by the Scottish Government as part of Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service and first published in the Farming Scotland Magazine in May 2021.

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