Let potash replenish the soil

4:08pm Thursday 20th February 2014

By Anne Perks

GROWERS who ignore the potash status of their soils could be placing greater pressure on the nitrogen they are about to apply, according to Frontier fertiliser manager Chris Tye, who suggests that, while there’s been great effort taken to get a soil’s physical structure right, fertility is perhaps being compromised.

He said: “Fertiliser statistics for 2012, from the British Survey of Fertiliser Practice, just released by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, show that average use of potash across arable and grassland stands at just 23kg K2O/ha.

“That’s another drop on the previous year and onethird lower than the level of potash fertiliser applied ten years ago. And our own analysis data confirm that the potash status in UK soils is far from ideal, with the number of those with soils in Indices 0 and 1 rising again in 2013. Nitrogen use efficiency can only be maintained if potassium in plants is at optimum levels and the ratios, based on current use, suggest otherwise.

“With the unprecedented winter rain and a record January rainfall figure, potash, which is normally effectively held in soils, is likely to have been redistributed more deeply in the soil profile.”

While potash prices have strengthened in recent weeks, they remain at low levels compared to where they have been in recent years and currently represent good value set against commodity prices, particularly for oil seed rape.

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