2014-03-13   facebook twitter rss

Maize Yields Boosted Using Microgranular Fertiliser at Drilling

The use of a starter fertiliser when drilling maize crops can boost yields of dry matter and starch. In trials carried out by Spunhill Farm Sales, applying a new type of starter fertiliser – Umostart – increased maize dry matter yield by 18% and starch yield by 21.5%.

Spunhill agronomist Mark Hancock explains: “Micro-granular fertiliser products like Umostart offer several benefits over traditional starter fertilisers like MAP and DAP when growing maize. For instance, Umostart micro-granules contain the trace elements: zinc, iron and manganese, as well as nitrogen and phosphorous. Also, Umostart is applied using a special micro-granular applicator fitted to the drill which places the fertiliser right by the seedling rooting zone. So it is more available to the seed than conventional ‘down the spout’ fertilisers.”

Maize Seedlings-Umostarttreated on left

Maize Seedlings-Umostart treated on left

Spunhill conducted replicated trials with Umostart in 2012 and 2013. Mr Hancock reports: “At the start of the growing seasons, the plants in the Umostart-treated plots had more vigour than those without any starter fertiliser – they grew quicker and were clearly taller. This was due to their increased root growth. At harvest-time, the plants in the Umostart-treated plots yielded more – averaging up to 18% more dry matter yield.”

“As a consequence of getting off to a faster start, the Umostart-treated plots also matured earlier – this boosted the starch content of the cobs, compared to those in the control plots. And this, combined with the higher DM yields, resulted in an extra 21.5% of starch in the Umostart-treated plots – that equates to an extra tonne of starch per hectare!”

Microgranular fertilisers are a very efficient way of supplying nitrogen and phosphate. “As the placement of fertiliser is so accurate and close to the seed, it allows a reduction in the overall nutrients applied to a given area of land, compared to conventional granular fertilisers,” explains Mr Hancock. “This avoids waste and loss of nutrients, and will reduce the risk of oversupply of nutrients in high index soils. It’s especially beneficial in NVZ areas.

“As well as the agronomic benefits, microgranular starter fertilisers are more convenient to handle: Umostart is supplied in 10kg bags rather than 600kg bags like conventional fertiliser. So it can just be left out for the drilling contractor along with the seed bags, without a loader being needed.”

Mr Hancock recommends that a starter fertiliser of some kind should always be used when drilling maize:
“Even crops grown in soils with a high index of nutrients can benefit from starter fertiliser. It’s akin to giving colostrum to new-born animals.”


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