Sustainability is a word that has become commonly used and maybe even over-complicated in farming. But what does it mean? According to Teagasc sustainable farming is a farming approach that can be sustained for the foreseeable future. It is a way of farming that will be even more efficient and productive in ten or twenty years, than it is today, all while maintaining the landscape and natural beauty of our countryside.
Soil is the medium for plant growth. For sustainable plant and animal production this medium must be supplied with adequate nutrients that are essential for plant and animal growth. To support plant and animal production soil nutrient levels must be maintained. Assuming pH is optimal, the common limiting nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and sometimes Sulphur (S).
All these nutrients play a key role within the plant and a deficiency in anyone will limit plant growth, whether it be grass for animal consumption or root and cereal crops for both human and animal consumption.
N, P and K are naturally occurring elements, which are processed into forms which are readily available for crop growth.
To ensure chemical fertiliser is used in an efficient and sustainable way keep in mind the following:
Always check the weather when you intend to spread chemical fertiliser. Avoid spreading in heavy rainfall, as it can lead to leaching or run off into a nearby water supply. Assess the wind speed, if its too windy to spray then it is too windy to spread. Wind can not only affect the spread of your fertiliser but the pattern of the spread.
When spreading fertiliser always drive at the speed recommended particularly with machines that rely on power take-off (PTO) or ground drive. The speed you drive affects the rate your fertiliser goes out and the spread pattern.
Over fertilising can cause lodging or even slow down plant growth. On the other hand, under fertilising will cause a reduction in yield and result in a crop that doesn’t meet its potential, ultimately resulting in financial losses.
Considering all the above factors and getting them right, gives your crops the best possible chance of optimum performance.
Fertilisers are used most sustainably and effectively when your crops need them most. Trial data has shown that crops benefit from a spring application of N, P, K and S, as that is when their demand for these major nutrients is at its highest, getting your crops off to a great start for the year ahead. By giving your crops the nutrients, they need when they need them, we are farming in a sustainable manner. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and assess the environmental factors, such as the weather and the landscape before spreading chemical fertiliser.
For more information on sustainable fertiliser use contact member of the sales team, click here
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