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Stackyard News Feb 07

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Surge in demand for Nitrogen Testing

Just three weeks into the mineral nitrogen testing season and Kemira GrowHow is reporting a surge in demand for its N-Min service.

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“We’ve already analysed more samples than we did in the whole of the 2006 season,” says company Agronomist Allison Grundy. “Testing can continue up to the end of March provided the fields have not received any top dressing when they are sampled,” she adds.

Ms Grundy believes there are two reasons for the dramatic increase. First of all she suggests that farmers and growers are really getting to grips with their environmental responsibilities. “They are also looking to use fertiliser more strategically than they have in the past. They are looking to get more out of their crops by applying optimum rates and in many cases are finding that can mean a saving on fertiliser.” she explains.

The commercial results now coming through confirm the findings from GrowHow’s own comprehensive deep core sampling programme completed in early February. That showed that soil residual Nitrogen levels are around 45% lower than in 2006. The Nitrogen has either been taken up by the crop and so needs to be accounted for when fertiliser application rates are being calculated or it has been lost following heavy winter rainfall.

“We are also finding some significant differences between what accepted wisdom suggests will be present and what actually is. This is particularly marked in fields after set-aside where the RB209 standard SNS index is suggesting much higher levels of residual N will be available than we are in fact measuring.”

As an example after set-aside on medium soils (SNS 3, moderate rainfall) RB209 states that 121kg/N/ha will be available. On one site near York, now down to a 1st wheat after set-aside, N-Min measured just 21kg/N/ha available. At another ‘after set-aside’ site near Morpeth; this time with a deep clay soil which would be expected to hold onto its Nitrogen, N-Min measured 43kg/N/ha. “These are significant differences which are likely to impact on both yield and quality,” she warns.

Kemira GrowHow UK is part of Kemira GrowHow Oyj, one of the leading companies in the European fertiliser and feed phosphate industry. Kemira GrowHow develops and markets high quality fertilisers, animal feed supplements and chemicals required in various industries. Kemira GrowHow has some 2,700 employees worldwide and in 2005 the company's net sales were EUR 1.3 billion. Kemira GrowHow Oyj is listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

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