04 March 2015 | Online since 2003



20 March 2014|Arable,Cereal,Crops,News,Produce

Nutrient management can improve farm profitability, research says


Large increases in the price of fertiliser and pressure on the agricultural industry to reduce its contribution to water pollution mean that making best use of nutrients has never been more important.

This was the focus of research conducted on farms across Conwy by scientists from the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography at Bangor University. The findings have just been published in a leading academic journal, “Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment”.

The ‘CEFN Conwy’ project gathered data on soil quality, farm productivity and nutrient management on 50 farms over a twelve month period. This allowed the researchers to estimate accurately the nutrient requirements for those farms and whether changes could be adopted without reducing farm productivity.

Soil tests showed that many farms in Conwy had soils too acid for optimum grass growth (88% of the farms had a soil pH value of less than 6). This makes fertiliser applications less effective as nutrient uptake by grass is reduced. The results indicated that grass growth would be increased by applying lime which would allow farmers to reduce the amount of fertiliser used. Modelling of the results also showed that this would also reduce loss of nutrients to streams and rivers.

There is a potential down-side to application of lime, however. Carbon footprint calculations showed that liming soils to reduce acidity would result in increased emissions of greenhouse gases which cause climate change.

This is because of emissions from processing and transport of lime and its impact on the soil. The study therefore revealed an important policy dilemma: whilst it may be beneficial at the local level to lime soils (for increased farm profitability and reduced loss of nutrients), this may cause some negative environmental impacts at a wider scale.

The research also showed that none of the farmers were choosing to use any of the software tools that are freely available (e.g. MANNER-NPK) to help them plan their nutrient management. Reasons included a lack of awareness, competing advice from elsewhere, and the belief that adopting the same fertiliser regime every year seemed to work best.

However, the researchers recommend that farmers do start to use these software tools because, combined with regular testing of soil nutrient status, they can greatly increase the efficiency of nutrient use on farms, and so improve profitability.

Professor John Healey, who led the research, commented “making optimum use of manures and slurries, with the right environmental safeguards, so that there’s less need to apply bagged fertiliser can be a real win-win scenario where both the farm business and the environment benefit. The study showed that farmers in Conwy generally aren’t over-applying nutrients, but that productivity could be improved by liming, provided its environmental costs are carefully considered.”

Download



Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


12 February 2015
Graduate Farm Business Management
A degree or equivalent preferably in a Science subject (especially but not exclusively Environmental Sciences, Applied Biolog...

18 February 2015
Senior Project Manager - Solar PV
Technical expertise in solar farm engineering and design. Strong understanding of large-scale (5MW+) ground-mount solar farm ...

11 February 2015
Grants and KEC Support Officer
Agriculture, Food and Veterinary. Knowledge of agriculture and agricultural research drivers. Established in 1843, Rothamsted...

12 February 2015
Sunday Class 1 Driver £17 - £18/hr
Starting between 0400 and 0530, you will be delivering dairy products to leading supermarkets and RDCs. We are increasing our...

3 March 2015
Trainee / Graduate Rural Surveyor - Manchester
This will include being involved in elements of property management rent reviews/lease renewals budgeting single farm payment...




Top stories you may have missed
2 February 2015 | Arable
Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Membership of the EU is damaging the British farming industry, according to...


29 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

BASIS has launched an accreditation for pilots of Unmanned Aerial Systems (...


23 January 2015 | Arable
UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have theoretical potential to more than double over the nex...


23 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Britain’s farmers flocked to Peterborough for the first day of LAMMA’15 to ...


22 January 2015 | Cattle
Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

The crisis in the dairy industry is not the fault of supermarkets, accordin...


16 January 2015 | CLA
Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer visited three rural businesses in Cheshi...


16 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

Spearheading the John Deere range of mid-size tractors from Mannheim, the n...


14 January 2015 | Animal Health
Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Regular testing for bovine TB could significantly reduce the number of infe...


12 January 2015 | News
Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Single-issue policy-making threatens to hamper, not help, the progress of U...


8 January 2015 | Cattle
2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2014 has been a “rocky old year” for the beef industry but better prices ar...