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Fertiliser prices have come back over recent weeks but still remains relatively high with indications that fertiliser N prices may ease with fertiliser blends (N-P-K's) remaining relatively high. With nitrogen prices still remaining high recommendations for all cereal crops based a recent review of the nitrogen response curves for each individual crop will need to be adjusted based on N costs and grain value. Different cereal crops have a maximum recommended rate (Economic N optimum) of nitrogen above which it is generally not economic to apply any further nitrogen as the yield response will not cover the cost of the extra nitrogen applied, this is called the Break even Ratio (BER). With the large cost differential between CAN & Protected Urea of up to 30% now offers a real production cost saving and will help protect crop margins in 2023. Fertiliser rates have been calculated depending on N types and grain valued and are show below.
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New for 2023 under the new nitrates directive all arable lands need to be soil sampled in the last 4 years alternatively in the absence of recent soil analysis assume soil P Index 4 for P fertiliser applications.
In 2022 on tillage farms 4,325 soil samples were taken, which represents a 14% increase in soil samples in 2022. This increase is primarily driven by the significant increase in the cost of N, P and K fertilisers, in addition changes to soil sample requirements as per nitrates directive.
Soil test results indicate the following:-
Figure 1:- Percentage of soils in pH ranges, soil P and K index and soils with optimum fertility.
In 2023 take fresh soil samples where samples where P and K applications have been reduced or omitted in 2022. This will allow to pick up soil fertility changes and adjust nutrient applications in 2023. The database shows that soil K levels have fallen for the first time in 11 years, omit K on Index 4 soils for 1 year and revert to Index 3 advice until the next soil test.
Soil pH & liming
Soil test results indicate no change in soil pH levels in 2022 with 39% of tillage soils with a lime requirement. Aim to correct soil pH levels based on lime advice as per recent soil test report.
It is recommended to apply lime for spring crops over the coming days and weeks (were ground conditions allow) to correct soil pH levels to maximise soils and applied fertilisers (organic & chemical) efficiency.