Agronomy Advice

How better nutrition can improve oilseed establishment

Nutrition has always been important for good establishment of oilseed rape. Despite the continued decline in oilseed rape in recent years, there is still a significant area sown around the UK so autumn nutrition still has an important part to play.

How better nutrition can improve oilseed establishment
How better nutrition can improve oilseed establishment
Seed treatment gets a crop off to a good start

When getting a crop established nutrition can help get it off to a good start. If we start with a seed treatment then there are a couple of nutrients that are particularly helpful to a newly germinated seed.

Phosphorus is important for protein synthesis, root and shoot development and energy transfer within the plant, however, its mobility within the soil is very poor. Having a seed treatment that contains phosphorus means that it is in the correct place, near the seed, so that the newly developing roots can access it quickly and efficiently to give it enough phosphorus to get it growing.

Manganese is a major contributor to various biological systems including chlorophyll production and oxidation and reduction processes in plants (electron transport in photosynthesis). Manganese has a metabolic role in nitrate-reducing enzyme activity and activation of enzymes which play roles in carbohydrate metabolism, thus photosynthesis efficiency decreases with manganese deficiency. Therefore having it within a seed treatment will ensure the seedling has sufficient supply to kick-start growth.

A trial looking at YaraVita GLYTREL MnP, which contains both manganese and phosphorus, showed that plant numbers doubled and root weights were over 4.5 times more in the treated side of the field than the untreated. Therefore the plants with more roots are better able to access resources and therefore established far better than the plants without the seed treatment.

Starter fertiliser placed at drilling ensures nutrient availability

The next stage of nutrition that will help establish the crop is by placing an NPKS fertiliser at drilling. Oilseed rape is allowed 30kgN/ha in the autumn if you’re in an NVZ, however, if you’re placing your fertiliser you can reduce this to 25kgN/ha due to it being more precise.

Phosphorus tends to be immobile and doesn’t travel very far in the soil (less than 1mm) therefore placing the fertiliser at drilling will ensure that the nutrients are close to the seed so that they can access them quickly upon germination. This also means that less fertiliser is wasted by being spread in between the rows; phosphorus that lands interrow will soon become ‘locked-up’ (either by iron, aluminium or calcium ions) and therefore become plant-unavailable. When looking for a starter fertiliser for oilseed rape a good fit for a solid product would be YaraMila ACTYVA S (16-15-15+6.5% SO3).

Foliar micronutrients help maximise early biomass

Once the crop is up and has reached the 2-4 leaf stage we need to maximise its growth before the end of December to ensure there’s a decent amount of biomass to go into the winter with. This can be helped with micronutrient applications. 

Manganese, boron and molybdenum are the main micronutrients for oilseed rape and are important for early plant establishment and maintenance of healthy green leaves.

  • Manganese is necessary for photosynthesis and protein synthesis whilst also regulating the activity of nitrate reductase. As such deficiency leads to an accumulation of nitrate in plant tissue which can encourage diseases as well as reducing the plant's tolerance to cold temperatures over winter.
  • Boron has several key roles in plants and is required for both cell division and cell elongation, boron is particularly important for root development, during stem extension and at flowering.
  • Molybdenum is needed by plants to utilise nitrogen and similar to manganese a deficiency can lead to high levels of nitrates in plant tissues.
A crop specific micronutrient mixture is the simplest option

YaraVita BRASSITREL PRO is a crop-specific combination of several nutrients that are important for oilseed both in the autumn and spring. This product is a precaution for potential micronutrient deficiencies before they start to show symptoms; as once this occurs then yield is already being lost.

An autumn application can reduce the susceptibility of oilseed rape to disease and help to increase establishment. A healthier plant is better able to cope with disease pressure and some of these nutrients have been shown to decrease the incidence of disease significantly.

Yara conducts independent trials each year and over the past 6 years the data has shown an average yield response of 0.3t/ha from an application of Brassitrel Pro both in the autumn and followed up in the spring. This means it is well worth applying as the return on investment is several times the cost of the product.

So, in summary, there are many ways that nutrition can help improve the establishment of oilseed rape this autumn to help it get off to the best start possible and keep its momentum going up to winter dormancy.

Latest advice background
Latest advice background
Grow the future | Nitrogen and sulphur Grow the future | Nitrogen and sulphur

Applying nitrogen and sulphur together just makes sense

Combining nitrogen and sulphur together increases nitrogen use efficiency so means more for your money with less wastage

Find out more

Read about improving nutrient efficiency