Deficiency prevention is better than cure

By: Mark Tucker

When it comes to micronutrients, prevention of a deficiency before crop losses occur is always better than correction after the damage has been done. This is the principal behind our crop specific micronutrient strategy which combines knowledge of the key nutrients required by a crop with an understanding of the nutrients that are often found deficient.

Micronutrients - Prevention of a deficiency is better than cure
Micronutrients - Prevention of a deficiency is better than cure

A statement that best describes the YaraVita Crop Specific approach is “prevention is better than cure”. This of course is not new, having been quoted back in the 15th century, and is well accepted in the health care world as being the most effective method to adopt.

The ‘Crop Specific’ approach first and foremost uses knowledge associated with the key nutrients required by the crop, but also an understanding of the nutrients that are often found deficient.  

Taking the crop requirement component first then this knowledge comes from the Yara glasshouse screening trials that identifies which out of all the nutrients (macro and micro) have the greatest impact on the crop plants growth and development. The macro nutrients always show how critical they are and these can be addressed through a fertiliser plan.

Key foliar applied micronutrient in wheat and oilseed

When it comes to nutrients that can be managed via applications to the leaf (mainly micronutrients), a correct formulation can be developed such that it contains an adequate amount of each of the key nutrients identified to maintain a healthy plant.

A myth often attached to multi nutrient products is that “they contain something of everything, but not enough of anything”. This is of course true for some of these types of products which really fall into more of a ‘crop tonic’ category. The true ‘Crop Specific’ products do contain robust levels of nutrient provided they are applied at the appropriate application rate. 

The application timing of these products is also of critical importance as having developed a product that contains the key nutrient ratios for optimal growth and development, they must be applied in advance of deficiencies having an impact, and just prior to key growth and development phases. Examples of such growth phases would be autumn establishment and stem extension in oilseed and wheat crops.

The appropriateness of the Crop Specific products can also be assessed against nutrient deficiency data. If historical, individual farm / field data is available then this can be used. Alternatively, large data sets from national analytical services can be valuable sources of information. Yara Analytical Services deficiency data shows the following:

By considering both the crops requirement and expected deficiency, a ‘crop specific’ approach is a very compelling approach to de-risk your crop nutrition strategy. Such an approach has been trialled now since 2015 with very positive results showing a long term average Return on Investment of 4:1.

Wheat agronomy and fertiliser advice
Wheat agronomy and fertiliser advice

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