13 Mar 2015

The autumn N fertiliser dilemma

The mornings and evenings are starting to get a bit cooler and have that autumnal feeling about them. Much needed rain has started to arrive in some places while other parts of the country are still very dry. How much moisture is needed on your farm before using nitrogen to boost autumn pasture growth makes economic sense?

Often at this time of year pasture growth is limited by soil moisture. For pastures to respond to nitrogen the soil moisture levels must be sufficiently high for adequate plant growth. Given many places around the country have been very dry over summer your soil may still need quite a bit of rain before any nitrogen will have an effect.

Keeping your soil between just below field capacity (allowing some room for any rain) and refill point (50% of your soil’s total available water) is the optimum zone for adequate pasture growth. Applying nitrogen fertiliser when your pasture is still water stressed will have little benefit. As soil temperatures start to drop and you start moving out of optimum growing conditions, it is crucial to know when your soil moisture levels are enough to allow a reasonable nitrogen response.

Using Regen Nitrogen, farm specific soil conditions are available at your fingertips at any time. The service also includes a N calculator that gives you the likely response rate with your current soil conditions. Using this information you can then make the best decisions you can on when to apply nitrogen fertiliser.

The result? More grass for every dollar spent on N fertiliser and a reduced impact on the environment. A good outcome for all!

www.nzregen.co.nz

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