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Blog - The CLA view of Tried & Tested

Last updated: 08 Jul 2014

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Here at the CLA, we are all systems go for our annual CLA Game Fair - the most exciting show in the country calendar – which takes place at Blenheim Palace on 18-20 July.

The CLA Game Fair was first held in 1958 at Stetchworth, Newmarket, when 8,500 visitors came to celebrate life in the countryside. The event provides an opportunity for country people of varying interests and backgrounds to get together to chew the fat, exchange skills, wisdom and experience and to do business together. While the shows of today are vastly different from those the originally envisaged by the founders, the same fundamental driving forces still exist: the fellowship, the sense of community and the deep love of countryside activities.

I have the pleasure of being on the CLA Advisory stand at the show. Many other organisations will also be represented including Tried &Tested, whose steering committee I sit on. 

With many farmers either busy or soon to be busy with this year’s harvest – let’s hope the rain doesn’t intervene – the CLA Game Fair provides an excellent opportunity to obtain advice on nutrient management, securing the best yield from your crop and improving the quality of your soil. Whether you are a seasoned farmer or a new entrant, or are in need of a simple step-by-step guide to ease you through the process of creating a nutrient management plan, come and talk to Tried &Tested.

Nutrient Management with Tried & Tested

The Tried & Tested short guide, created by the industry for the industry, explains the four key steps to nutrient management planning, and best of all, is free.

What’s in it for you, I hear you ask? Well, simply put, good nutrient management is an essential part of efficient farming and can deliver many benefits to growers that improve farm profitability while protecting the environment. These include:

  • Best value from fertilisers and organic manures used
  • Enhanced crop yield and quality
  • Reduced environmental risks due to field losses of excess nutrients
  • Potential cost savings when all nutrient inputs are accounted for
  • Improved crop and livestock performance from a balanced supply of nutrients.

Like all good management you need to start with a plan and ask yourself some questions to focus the plan on the right things. Below is a basic guide to the questions you should cover:

  • What is a field nutrient management plan?

It’s always good to know the purpose of what you are doing so you don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve. In essence, the plan aims to match nutrient inputs (fertilisers and organic manures) to crop demand so yield is optimised, nutrient use is minimised and there are minimum losses of nutrients to the environment.

  • What am I getting from the soil?

The soil can provide part of the nutrient supply for the crop. More nutrients in the soil mean less fertiliser is needed, saving you £££s.

  • What does the crop need?

Nutrient requirement varies with type of crop, expected yield and market. Once you know the existing levels in the soil you can look up the crop nutrient requirements. If you are applying nitrogen, don’t forget to check you comply with the NVZ legislation.

If you will be applying organic manures (FYM, slurry, sewage sludge, compost, paper waste etc) to the field, your next question should be

  • What am I getting from organic manures?

Organic manures contain fertiliser nutrients and their value to the crop and your pocket must be considered. The nutrients in a 120t heap of FYM could be worth around £900. You will need to calculate the useful nutrients applied in organic manures, so you can deduct these from the total crop requirement. The more nutrients you can get from organic manures, the less you are likely to need from fertilisers. You will need to determine total nutrients and then calculate the crop-available nutrients applied. There are published tables for the typical total and available nutrient contents of organic manures.

With all the hard work done, here comes the science!

  • Calculate the fertiliser needed after deducting nutrients from organic manures

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A final word from me – remember that yield is limited by the nutrient in shortest supply.

Hope to meet you at the CLA Game Fair and have a fruitful harvest!

 

Damian Testa

CLA – Chief Land Use Policy Adviser