fertiliser spreader from old RB209

ADAS are planning a Nutrition Challenge to compare the effect of different nutrition programmes on winter feed wheat yield, N uptake and gross margin, in the 2022/23 season. This is particularly timely following the recent dramatic rise in nitrogen fertiliser prices, which has forced the industry to re-examine nutrition strategies.

Objectives of the project are to showcase good nutrition products and practices so that farmers are equipped and encouraged to use fertiliser better, for the benefit of the environment and their own gross margins.

The format will be similar to the successful winter wheat ‘Fungicide Margin Challenge’ which has been run by ADAS since 2019, in partnership with AHDB for the first three years and independently in 2022. Farmers, agronomists and industry sponsors compete to devise the most cost-effective fungicide programme, with each entry included in replicated small plot trials by ADAS. The target is to achieve the highest margin over fungicide cost and the results have received considerable interest from farmers, agronomists and the media.

In a similar way, entrants in the Nutrition Challenge will compete to devise nutrition programmes which maximise gross margin.

How will it work?

  • We hope to fund two small plot trials for harvest 2023, with contrasting soil types and locations.
  • All inputs except nutrition will follow standard farm practice and be applied by the host grower.
  • Entrants will each design a bespoke spring nutrition programme, to be applied by ADAS; this may include any major and minor nutrients, not just nitrogen, and up to six application timings.
  • A range of standard nutrition products will be provided by ADAS for entrants to choose from; any products outside this range will need to be supplied by the entrant.
  • Entrants may adjust their programmes during the season in response to crop or weather conditions
  • ADAS will include three control input strategies for comparison:
    1. Untreated (with plots flanked by guards to prevent N robbing from neighbouring treatments)
    2. Industry Standard
    3. ADAS Experts’ entry
  • For statistical validity, four replicates of each programme will be included, in a randomised block design. Treatment order will be randomly allocated within each block.
  • All entrants will receive baseline soil and tissue test results and in-season updates on crop progress.
  • Additional tissue sampling during the season, for the refinement of the nutrition programme, is available as an optional extra, but this will be counted as a cost in the calculation of gross margin.
  • Biomass and N partitioning will be measured on all treatments, allowing calculation of N use efficiency, N uptake efficiency and N utilisation efficiency.
  • Yield and grain nutrient content (YEN Nutrition) will be measured on all plots and statistically analysed.
  • All entrants will receive the trial results along with their ranking against all other entrants.
  • To encourage innovation without recrimination, strategies and entrants’ names will not be shared without permission

Project funding, and how to enter

Companies working in fertiliser and agronomy are invited to sponsor the trials. To register your interest or for more information, please contact one of:

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ADAS provides ideas, specialist knowledge and solutions to secure our food and enhance the environment. We understand food production and the challenges and opportunities faced by organisations operating in the natural environment

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