The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice is an annual nationally representative survey based on the selection each year of a sample of farms from mainland Britain. The main purpose of the survey is to estimate average application rates of nitrogen, phosphate and potash used for agricultural crops and grassland. Information is also collected on applications of sulphur fertilisers, organic manures and lime.
You can download the survey here.
- Nitrogen Total nitrogen (N) applied increased by 1 kg/ha on tillage crops and reduced by 6 kg/ha on grassland between 2010 and 2011 to 150 and 57 kg/ha respectively. The total nitrogen rate on all crops and grassland reduced by 1 kg/ha to 101 kg/ha. The reduction in the application rate on grassland is consistent with the declining long term trend. The rate on all tillage has remained relatively constant for the last 25 years within the range 145-150 kg/ha
- Phosphate Overall phosphate (P2O5) use on tillage crops and grassland in 2011 was unchanged compared to last year at 19 kg/ha but the proportion of land receiving a phosphate dressing decreased for both tillage crops and grassland. Overall phosphate use on tillage crops has gradually declined since 1983.
- Potash The proportion of the area of tillage crops receiving a potash (K2O) dressing was unchanged from 2010 at 50%. This combined with slightly increased average field rate of potash in 2011 (78 kg/ha) meant the overall rate increased by 1 kg/ha compared to last year to 39 kg/ha. The overall rate on grassland fell by 2 kg/ha to 12 kg/ha as a result of lower average rates and a decrease in the area receiving a dressing. Overall potash use on tillage crops has declined since 1983 as has the overall potash use on grassland.
- Sulphur In 2011, 23% of all crops and grass received a dressing of sulphur, this figure was 42% for tillage crops.On tillage crops the overall application rate for sulphur was 26 kg/ha, an increase of 2 kg in comparison to last year. Applications on grass were consistent with 2010 at 2 kg/ha, this low overall rate is caused by the low dressing cover, with only 6% of grass receiving a sulphur dressing. In 2011 cereals sulphur dressing covers were in the 40%-46% range. The 71% dressing cover for oilseed rape was a 6% increase from 2010.
- Manrues and slurries Cattle manure from beef and dairy farms is by far the largest volume of manure type generated in Great Britain. The percentage of farms using cattle FYM has declined by 3% since 2007, with the use of cattle slurry as consistent over the period and used on 17% of farms in 2011. The amount of imported non-farm manures increased each year between 2003 and 2009 to 5.7 million tonnes. In 2011 this volume of imported non farm manures is lower at 4.4 million tonnes. However, care should be taken with the interpretation of these figures given the small number of farms involved. Cattle FYM and poultry manure continued to be the farm produced manures most likely to be imported. The percentage of farms importing composted green manure doubled over the last year to 1.2% - the highest figure for the five year period that the survey has been gathering this data.
- Slurry spreading Broadcast application of both pig and cattle slurry is by far the most widespread method used with 85% of farms surveyed using this method. However, The data do not account for the proportion of each farm s total cultivatable area receiving slurry, or any variation in the rate at which
slurry may have been applied using different application methods.
- Spreader precision In 2011, 39% of farmers, who were using a spreader, indicated they check the accuracy of mineral fertiliser spreaders by using catch trays on an annual basis, 6% check at each change of fertiliser. Twenty six percent of farmers never check their spreaders for accuracy.
- Contractors Between 2007 and 2011 they use of contractors for spreading has increased from 6% of farms to 11% of farms.
- Record keeping Farm diaries continue to be the most common method for recording both fertiliser and manure use. Computers were used for recording fertiliser applications on 22% of farms but is less common for organic manures at 17% of farms. No records were kept on 6% of farms.
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