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To devise new methods of fertiliser application to reduce nutrient use and pollution (Previously NT0805) - NT1204

A need has been identified for developing new practices to improve the efficiency of fertiliser use by crops whose roots do not always exploit the inter-row areas effectively. This study will aim to test methods for optimising the use of starter fertiliser and supplementary N dressings, in order to develop practices for commercial growing of vegetables and other widely spaced arable crops with reduced inputs of N; this would avoid unnecessary accumulation of nitrate residues in soil. The study will be composed of 2 objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Development of practical methods for optimising the use of starter fertiliser and supplementary N dressings in order to develop commercially acceptable reduced input systems for vegetable crops. Field experiments will be conducted with onions and lettuce to compare the effects of conventional broadcast applications of N with starter fertiliser used in combination with various rates of either seedbed N or top dressings applied at the start of the grand period of growth. Responses to treatments will be assessed by measuring fresh and dry weights and total N contents at both the early seedling stage and at maturity, and comparisons will be made of apparent recoveries of applied N; and 2. Examination of the feasibility of extending starter fertiliser techniques to widely spaced arable crops. Tests will be carried out to determine the suitability of existing injection equipment on forage maize, with the aim of establishing the appropriate rate and injection position of the starter fertiliser. Results of these studies will be used to develop strategies for optimising the benefits of starter N for use in commercial practice and to provide recommendations for using starter fertiliser to grow commercial yields of both forage maize and sugar beet with reduced inputs of N.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1998

Cost: £222,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Horticulture Research International
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution