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Late nitrogen management


If you read my recent blog, you'll be fully informed of how to check the nutrition status of your crop. Attention now turns to final nitrogen applications which will need to be as efficient as possible to make up for this seasons low levels of soil nitrogen.

Your crop requires as much support as possible right now and in this blog I'll be guiding you through the techniques you could implement to ensure this.

Leached nutrients – what does it mean for your crop?

You'll know by now that nitrogen and sulphur will have likely leached from your soils over winter and this spring due to the wet weather. We won't dwell on this too much, as unfortunately we can't control the weather and need to do what we can with the situation we're facing.

For now, it's important to understand what the lack of nitrogen could mean for your farm. The soil nitrogen supply (SNS) index or available nitrogen will be negatively impacted everywhere, but the following scenarios will need careful attention:

  • Crops following pulses and vegetable crops (as these will likely already have a reduced nitrogen strategy and are at risk of a nitrogen deficiency)
  • Any lighter soils
  • Soils left bare over winter.

Nitrogen top ups

Whilst topping up your nitrogen for final applications will be a priority, you should bear in mind that it's not just about this – it's about the right amount of nutrients at the right time in the right place.

Something that can help you tick these three boxes is SOYL's variable rate nitrogen (VRN) service. You can read about the benefits and positive trial results in this blog.

Don't forget rooting will have been negatively impacted and likely reduced too. As a result, any soil-applied nutrient is likely to be less efficient, so topping up your nitrogen/sulphur where possible will increase efficiency and support lower sulphur availability.

You should avoid pulling applications together and applying high rates, consider extending applications later in some but not all crop scenarios.

Crops that have reduced rooting structure will also have reduced standing strength, so wherever possible fresh phosphorus to support and promote further rooting will be beneficial alongside potassium and calcium to support cell wall strength. 

Product options

We continue to see variable regional availability on all fertiliser products – keep in mind options that are ready in a bag to move. You can speak to your Frontier contact about what is available in your region.

An alternative that is also worth considering is liquid fertiliser - if you already have physical storage on farm, delivery can be within days of ordering and the product options available support late nutrient supply of nitrogen and sulphur.

A reminder too that urease inhibitors like Limus Perform can improve the efficiency of your liquid fertiliser applications by preventing the loss of nitrogen via volatilisation. This allows the crop a better chance of taking the maximum amount of nitrogen.

All applications must now include a urease inhibitor to comply with the urea stewardship scheme, unless liquid fertiliser is incorporated by injection or within 48 hours of application by irrigation or cultivation.

An application of 20l/ha Nutrino Pro at petal fall on oilseed rape has shown to increase yields by an average of 0.4t/ha. At the time of writing, oilseed futures for November would demonstrate a margin over input cost of £108/ha.

Efficient late nitrogen to support yield - Nutrino Pro

While Nutrino Pro should be used in addition to a full nitrogen programme, we have trials data that suggests you could drop out a proportion of soil-applied nitrogen and replace this with a later application of Nutrino Pro.

It's definitely worth considering for poorer rooted, stressed crops that are likely to be less efficient at taking up soil-applied nutrients.

This is particularly true for OSR, and during 2022, IntraCrop carried out trials work at Newcastle University. When Nutrino Pro was applied to oilseed rape alongside 100% of the intended nitrogen, there were significant yield increases.

What's really worth noting though, is that within the same trial when only 85% of nitrogen was used via a conventional soil-applied system with the addition of 20l/ha Nutrino Pro, this pushed the yield back up to the 100% nitrogen programme yield.This is reassuring given the low soil nitrogen levels, but also where less nitrogen was applied before flowering than had been planned. 

Boosting proteins with efficient foliar nitrogen 

We know how much of a yield driver nitrogen is for wheat and it's of even more importance when it comes to quality wheats – protein levels to be precise.

Let's not forget that if our soils started with 30kg/ha/N less than we would 'normally' have them, then it's vital to ensure total nitrogen rates are carefully thought about. We should also of course consider yield potential and other on-farm factors.

If we use RB209 for our nitrogen reference, the book-based recommendation for 8t/ha feed wheat crop on SNS index 1 is 220kg/ha N. How many of us are applying this kind of rate? If we then add in a milling wheat crop, this pushes requirements up to 260kg/ha N.

This is all with the assumption that 60% of your nitrogen applied is going to used by the crop- but do you know this for certain?

Once you are happy or have completed your planned total nitrogen rate but you know your grain contract dictates specific proteins, consider Multi N to boost protein production.

Over the last 12 years, Multi N has shown increases of 0.5-0.7 in grain proteins when used alongside a robust nitrogen programme. Some of the following benefits can be found below:

  • Very low scorch risk, crop safe and rain-fast in just 30 minutes
  • Very high efficiency of uptake assists with nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) compliance
  • Can be applied through conventional nozzles
  • Large area covered per sprayer tank – low application rate. 


Now is this time to really understand what your all of your different crops need and use your findings to make any necessary additions or alterations. Once you've got that right, your crop should have the best opportunity to succeed.

For more advice on any of the methods or products mentioned in this blog, you can speak to your local Frontier representative or contact the nutrition team here

Finley Hawkins 
Fertiliser Business Development Manager - South

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Monday, 24 June 2024

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