'Nitrates rules are forcing farmers to use chemical fertilisers instead of organics'
Reports on crop growth and yields over the years, and particularly last year, frequently comment on the advantages of organic manure (OM) applications.
While most commentators advise a nutrient valuation of around €25/t due to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the value is much greater.
The secret may well lie in the content of the actual organic material which:
- helps to maintain and improve soul structure;
- provides bacteria which improves the soil biology;
- provides a food source for existing soil organisms;
- provides trace elements.
Claims for manufactured bio-stimulants may well be trying to achieve what is available from slatted tanks and manure heaps in farmyards throughout the country. Likewise, the trace element content can replenish depleted soils.
Our current NPK chemical fertilisers only contain what they state and do not contain the full range of trace elements that plants require.
Findings here and in Britain suggest that there are a lot more trace elements being applied to crops than is necessary - insurance treatments. No doubt insurance is expensive but pays well when it is needed.
Tillage lands that have received slurry, farmyard manure or compost in recent years may not have the same needs as lands which have not.
You should review all field histories and prioritise older tillage soils which have not received OM applications this year. It should also be very valuable to do crop foliage analysis for trace elements this year on crops grown on fields which have received OM - and compare it to crops on similar soils which have not received OM.