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Fertilisation – precision saves yield

In the past decades, a lot of factors called for major changes in the fertilisation sector.

But the changed approach of the fertilisation topic is not only marked by the political framework conditions like the nitrate guideline and its implementation in the Fertiliser Ordinance, especially with regard to nitrogen fertilisation. Weeds, too, require a change regarding the timing of cereal seeding while the crop still has to be competitive in autumn and winter.  
To strengthen the competitive power of the cereals, it is important to ensure a fast youth development even in somewhat cooler conditions. Technologies that place micronutrients and other nutrients close to the seed can support this. The required nutrient quantities are low and sometimes even limited. HORSCH provides two solutions for placing nutrients close to the seed: The nutrients are placed in the seed furrow together with the seed (ill. 1). This is a very efficient way to ensure an adequate supply of the crop, especially at a very early stage.

The second option where slightly higher amounts of nutrients can be placed in the soil while seeding is underground fertilisation (ill. 2). In this case, the nutrients are placed between two seed rows. Due to the spacing between the seed and the nutrient salt, slightly larger quantities can be applied. The larger spacing, however, also means a slightly delayed effect on the plants.


Challenges with regard to fertilisation:

  • Weed topic
  • Increasing weather extremes
  • Basic fertilisation during tillage
  • Fertiliser Ordinance
  • Nutrient prices

Adapt the fertiliser strategy

In addition, weather conditions have changed noticeably – with long dry resp. wet periods. This influences seeding and moreover complicates the decision-making regarding the population management in spring. The wet, cool as well as the dry, warm springs of the past years again and again call for an adaption of the fertiliser strategy. One challenge for example is to supply the population with sufficient nutrients beyond the dry periods, but still prevent that it is developing too many shoots in spring to keep an eye on water consumption. However, in a cool and possibly wet spring, it may make sense to compensate for a delayed mineralisation in the soil with fertilisation to establish a satisfactory population. This requires a technology that can distribute the nutrients evenly across the whole working width.

At the Agritechnica, we presented our new pneumatic fertiliser spreader HORSCH Leeb Xeric. The focus of the development was on the requirement of the customers “very small amounts like for example 10 kg N/ha but also a basic fertilisation in the kg/ha sector with a good work rate”. An on-time application of the fertiliser facilitates the control of the development of the population and, thus, can contribute to the optimisation of the water consumption. 
In addition to the range of the application rate, the working width of the plant protection sprayers and thus of the fertiliser spreader, too, increase gradually in practice. With the increasing working width, the requirements with the regard to cross distribution of the fertiliser and also regarding the topic of wind increase, too. A pneumatic spreader can excellently cope with these challenges.

In the future, a holistic approach to arable and crop farming will be required to an increasing extent - from tillage to seeding to fertilisation and crop care.