The goal for fertilisation in rye cultivation is balanced nutrition that promotes rapid growth and good quality and at the same time protects the environment. Aided by good soil analysis and an adjusted fertiliser programme, an over-or under nourished soil can be brought back to proper balance.
Rye was previously grouped with wheat in fertiliser recommendations, but it has unique nutrient requirements that separate it from other grains. Nitrogen requirements are not as high, even though yield may be comparable to wheat. There is a high risk of lodging in rye, and too heavy nitrogen applications should be avoided.
Soil tests gives the best indications of fertiliser rates. Phosphorus and potash should be applied in autumn or spring. Improved efficiency can be achieved by banding phosphate directly below the seed at planting, especially on high pH soils. The nitrogen application should be split, especially on lighter soils with one part applied at planting, one part in spring when growth starts, and a top dressing later if needed. Autumn application of nitrogen and phosphorus increases autumn growth, which improves winter ground cover. A spring top-dressing with nitrogen is desirable where rye is pastured.
In many cases, depending on the soil, micronutrients should also be added together with the fertiliser. Rye is often cultivated on sandy soils with low content of Copper (Cu), this can be corrected with a copper spray that gives good results.
Where heavy liming has lifted the pH, deficiencies in Manganese (Mn) might occur as Mn will oxidize to the insoluble MnO2. To ensure good pollination, Boron (B) availability must be monitored on very sandy soils. With low numbers, Boron fertilisation at the flag leaf stage until flowering is advisable.
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