Potassium is an important macro-nutrient for plant growth

Read about Potassium (potash or K) on the PDA's website at https://www.pda.org.uk/what-is-potash/

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Plants need around 12 essential mineral nutrients to grow: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). Crop requirements differ hugely between elements, from 100s kg/ha of N & K, 10s kg/ha P, S, & Ca, 100s g/ha Fe, Mn, Zn & Cu, to 1s g/ha B & Mo.  Crops also differ inherently in these requirements due both to their genetics and their growing conditions.  Crops need these nutrients primarily to form and operate the photosynthetic tissues that convert solar energy and water into edible (or otherwise useful) energy.  Subsequently crops redistribute some nutrients from their leaves and stems to their generative organs, according to the nutritional requirements of crop re-establishment e.g. the nutrient needs of seedlings.  Depending on which crop components are harvested and removed, crop nutrients are either exported and used in feeds or foods, or are returned to the soil to form soil organic matter.   

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for both plants and animals, playing a key role in energy transfer as a major component of ATP. It is also vital in DNA. For full capture & conversion of solar energy, crop canopies need 30-40 kg/ha P. Crop species redistribute most of this P (~85%; more than for any other nutrient) to their seeds during canopy senescence, where it is stored as phytate. Plants appear to do this because, until their roots proliferate, plant seedlings are highly sensitive to P shortages.

Analysing grain for all 12 nutrients can be an effective tool to improve nutrient management, providing information on crop nutrient status and nutrient offtakes.  It can indicate whether your crops are getting hold of the nutrients they need, or whether you can save on future fertiliser use.

YEN Nutrition brings together those wanting to achieve more precise crop nutrition.  High fertiliser prices now make this vital.  Assuming that 'crops know best' engagement in YEN Nutrition starts by benchmarking grain nutrients to show those that were limiting (or excessive) for each crop.

Share your ideas and experience of how to improve nutrient efficiency and reduce dependence on artificial fertilisers

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Within our Farm-PEP Innovate UK project we are looking to develop 'patch testing' as an approach

One of the defining memories of the 2018 cereal harvest must be the colour of the straw. Social m

Managing nutrients effectively is crucial for our soils, crops, livestock and environment. There are many resources and initiatives available to help. 

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