Offering up to 8% higher yields, and a wealth of additional operational benefits; using a controlled released fertilizer (CRF) in preference to a standard nitrogen programme is paying off for the Jersey Royal Company.
The trials were managed independently by Ryan Stone, the firm’s technical manager across a six hectare area of the famous Jersey Royal variety of early cropping potatoes.
It demonstrates significant opportunity for the company, that’s responsible for 65% (1,400 hectares) of the island’s total potato area, with 20,000 tonnes of the early variety exported to the UK mainland annually.
“Last year we applied Agromaster CRF - manufactured by ICL Specialty Fertilizers - to half of the field trial area. The other half received a standard fertilizer, with both being applied two days before planting,” says Ryan.
The CRF was applied from mid-March until the end of April 2016 at a rate of 180 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare. “When we monitored the crop, the earlier digs didn’t show much of a difference between the untreated control and the CRF treated potatoes, but after 12 weeks, the difference was clear and we saw up to 8% yield increase in some fields,” he says.
The benefits of CRF are numerous according to Ryan, as they also tackle the issue of leaching. “From an environmental perspective, Agromaster helps to minimise leaching and this is extremely important for our farming practices. Reducing chemical residues is a very hot topic on our island,” he adds.
Controlled release fertilizers are the being increasingly employed to support potato crops, according to Scott Garnett from Agromaster manufacturer, ICL Specialty Fertilizers. “They play an important role in improving yield, reducing nutrient losses and simplifying fertilizer application.
“It limits the need for top dressings and the fact that the fertilizer remains available to the plant over a longer period, offers vital nutritional support to the crop throughout the whole of the growing cycle.” he says.
“The way the technology works is simple, but highly effective. The fertilizer granules have an E-max coating’ which is essentially a semi-permeable layer that controls the release of the fertilizer to the growing plant. This works in conjunction with the soil temperature and moisture content, with more fertiliser being made available as the soils warm-up. If the temperature then drops, the coating condenses and stops the flow of nutrients.
“When the nutrients are fully released, the E-max coating disintegrates harmlessly into the soil,” adds Scott.