Nutrient management reviewed
A £98,000 project to review the current Fertiliser Manual RB209 was overseen by the AHDB-led UK Partnership for Crop Nutrient Management and delivered by an ADAS-led consortium of experts from across the UK research community. It was supported by £200,000-worth of in-kind funding by industry.
The 2016 review, which took account of the latest research developments since 2009, was split into six distinct themed work packages: principles of crop nutrient management; organic materials; grass and forage; cereals and oilseeds; potatoes and horticulture.
Farmers, growers, agronomists, breeders, researchers, fertiliser companies and other industry experts were among those consulted on how existing RB209 recommendations could be updated to incorporate the latest scientific advances.
Paul Newell Price of ADAS said, “RB209 provides the industry standard in the management of nutrients in organic materials and manufactured fertilisers. It forms an essential component of sustainable food production and environmental protection, and helps farmers and growers develop viable farming systems. ADAS is very supportive of AHDB’s initiative in creating the Crop Nutrient Management Partnership and ensuring that the Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) is updated on a regular basis as new research findings become available.”
RB209 offers best practice guidance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on application of mineral fertilisers, manures and slurries to crops and grassland. The most recent edition was published by Defra in 2010.
The updated edition will be split into seven colour-coded sections, so users can cherry-pick relevant information and individual sections can be updated more easily to reflect the latest research.
Key changes for farmers growing grass and forage crops
- Nutrient recommendations for grass and forage crops are now presented in a single Section 3
- Grassland nitrogen recommendations have been revised to focus on target yield of grass production without linking to particular animal production systems (dairy, beef or sheep), milk yield, stocking rate or concentrate use.
- The number of tables have been significantly reduced and are simpler to use
- Whole season nitrogen requirements and nitrogen application sequences are provided separately for cutting and grazing situations
- No changes have been made to phosphate and potash recommendations for grazing, silage or hay systems
- The recommendations for nitrogen use in autumn grass establishment have increased
- Minimum changes have been made to nutrient recommendations for maize and wholecrop silages
- The nutrient recommendations for swedes, turnips, rape and kale have been altered to reflect grazing in-situ
- The nutrient recommendations for fodder beet (roots lifted) have been increased as higher yields are being achieved
Key changes for farmers using organic materials
- Nutrient values for organic materials are now presented in Section 2
- Nutrient content figures have been added for goat farmyard manure and farm-sourced and food-based anaerobic digestate, while digested liquid biosolids have been removed
- Nutrient content figures have been updated for horse, cattle, sheep and duck farmyard manure, cattle and pig slurry, biosolids and compost
- Sulphur availability from organic materials have been updated
- Nutrient content of poultry manure is presented according to dry matter content
- These changes mean that calculations for organic materials are becoming more accurate
For the latest information on RB209, visit ahdb.org.uk/rb209
Dr Paul Newell Price, a soils and nutrients specialist at ADAS, will be leading a practical talk on how to assess soil structure. With the help of demonstration soil pits, Paul will show you what to look out for and how to choose the right management options from compaction alleviation to reseeding to maximise profit from grass.“Compaction can reduce grass yields by up to 40%, so it is an important problem to address,” says Paul. A selection of compaction alleviation machines, will be on display as part of the feature, click here to find out more. You can hear Paul’s talk in the Muck trade stand area at 10:30, 12:30 and 14:30 both days. Paul will also be available in the ADAS Soil Advice Clinic on the ADAS stand, number 906.
Paul has over twenty years of experience working on soil and nutrient management issues in the UK and overseas. He has undertaken applied research and consultancy for AHDB, Defra, WRAP, devolved administrations, corporate bodies, farmers and growers; and has led a number of key soil and nutrient management projects including the recent AHDB review and revision of RB209 (Fertiliser Recommendations); and Defra/Natural England project BD5001 on soil compaction in grasslands. He helped co-produce the “Healthy Grassland Soils” guidance for ‘AHDB Dairy’ and ‘AHDB Beef & Lamb’ along with SRUC and Newcastle University. Paul is also a BASIS accredited trainer with the FACTS and BASIS Nutrient Management Planning qualifications.