ARCHIVE: Fertiliser Manual (RB209)
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Introduction


This Manual has been produced for use by agricultural consultants, farmers and their agents and all other individuals and organisations concerned with developing and maintaining a sustainable agricultural industry in England and Wales. The principles of crop nutrition and soil fertility are presented briefly as background to the recommendations for the use of fertilisers, organic manures, including biosolids and composts, and lime for field crops, grassland, vegetables, fruit and bioenergy crops. It is an essential source of reference and advice for farmers, FACTS Qualified Advisers and those seeking qualification.

Achieving on-farm optimum economic crop yields of marketable quality with minimum adverse environmental impact requires close attention to detail. The recommendations given in this Manual seek to do this by ensuring that the available supply of plant nutrients in soil is judiciously supplemented by additions of nutrients in fertilisers and those sources of organic amendments that are available on the farm. Crops must have an adequate supply of nutrients, and many crops show large and very profitable increases in yield from the correct use of fertilisers to supply nutrients, and liming to correct any soil acidity. The recommendations in this Manual support Defra's aims to ensure good agricultural practice for the supply of nutrients to support economically viable crop production in environmentally acceptable ways. It is particularly directed to the use of fertilisers and the recommended amounts are those that typically will give the best financial return for each given set of circumstances.

The fertiliser recommendations for grassland adopt a new systems-based approach which is based on the economic need to produce the amount of home grown forage necessary to maintain a target intensity of production, rather than the optimal amount relative to the cost of fertiliser. This enables farmers who may be operating at widely different stocking rates and feeding different levels of concentrates to obtain relevant recommendations for fertiliser nitrogen application.

This Manual is an authoritative source of advice in a book format that provides a national standard for England and Wales. Other systems, including computerised systems that are already available or being developed, may give equally good recommendations but the extra complexity to achieve a very similar recommendation may not be necessary.

The recommendations accord with Integrated Farm Management where the aim is to optimise the benefit from all inputs to achieve an efficient and profitable production system with minimum adverse environmental impact. Integrated nutrient management seeks to optimise the use of all available plant nutrients on the farm. This includes those in the soil and those that can be recycled by the return of organic manures, including sewage sludge (biosolids) and composts, and fertilisers that are used to supplement these sources. The recommendations in this Manual for the use of fertilisers are not appropriate for organic farming systems, where the use of soluble manufactured fertilisers is, with few exceptions, prohibited. Further information
can be obtained from the appropriate organic sector body.

The principles of nutrient management and the basis of the recommendations are explained in Section 1. Section 2 gives detailed guidance on how to calculate the nutrients supplied from a specific manure application and how to maximise the value of the nutrients in a range of organic manures. Instructions on how to use the recommendation tables are in Section 3 and are based on the nutrient Index system. Sections 4 to 8 give detailed recommendations for all major field crops, grassland, vegetables, fruit/vines and hops and bioenergy crops. Section 9 gives references to other sources of authoritative and detailed information. Appendices cover a range of topics including a description of different soil types, sampling methods for soil and organic manures and the soil classification system currently in use.

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