There’s plenty going on at harvest time to keep everyone busy but spending 10 minutes sending off a grain sample for analysis could save you money in the long run.
“Grain analysis has been available in the UK for a long time, but it’s not something that farmers tend to carry out as part of their on-farm routine, in the way soil or tissue analysis would be,” says Natalie Wood, Agronomist – Arable Specialist at Yara, one of the UK’s leading providers of crop nutrition products and services.
“Grain analysis is important because it shows what nutrients the grain contains and therefore whether the crop has had sufficient levels of each nutrient in the growing season. Other tests show the middle parts of the growth process, whereas grain analysis is to better understand the final result.
y knowing the nutrient levels within the grain, it’s possible to better understand whether your crop nutrition strategy was ultimately successful – did the crop have everything it needed to achieve optimum growth? Having this information then allows you to change your fertiliser plans for the next season. For example, if the grain results are coming back as low in potash then this could indicate you need to review the amount or timing of application next season.
“Analysing your grain reveals exactly what has been in the plant right up until the point of harvest, which is a good indicator of what’s occurred during the season. If there’s a deficiency in the grain, then the likelihood is that your nutrient levels aren’t sufficient throughout the season.”
A good example of how to utilise the result is looking at the sulphur level within the grain. You want an N:S ratio of below 17:1 in wheat – if the ratio exceeds this then it is an indication that there wasn’t enough sulphur available to the crop. For sufficient supply through the season, it’s recommended that you apply 50kg SO3/ha for wheat and 75kg SO3/ha for oilseed, little and often, to ensure the nutrients are readily accessible consistently.
“This is a way to make sure what you’re doing is right,” adds Natalie. “Grain analysis is another tool in your toolbox to fine-tune nutrition and ensure that the crop is getting what it needs, when it needs it – ultimately helping towards that optimum yield.
For more information and advice on crop nutrition products and options, visit www.yara.co.uk/crop-nutrition/fertiliser
Natalie Wood, Yara’s Country Arable Agronomist.