Development of an in-field diagnostic tool to measure available nitrogen accurately to mitigate losses to the environment

Project Detail

Development of an in-field diagnostic tool to measure available nitrogen accurately to mitigate losses to the environment

Currently the state of intensively-cultivated arable land in much of the UK is poor. The use of organic amendments such as compost, farm yard manure and other agricultural residues can provide soil organic matter required to restore soil health. In addition, the nutrients in organic amendments can supplement mineral fertilizers to meet crop demands. However current use of organic amendments disregards the complexity of factors (e.g. soil texture, pH, carbon: nitrogen ratio) that influences nutrient availability in soil. To tackle this, an in-field diagnostic tool is needed to determine nutrient supply from organic amendments in an accurate and precise way. We propose to adapt for this purpose an existing diagnostic tool widely used in the water industry. Existing trials at Rothamsted Research (RR) as part of a NERC SARIC project provide an opportunity to evaluate this in-field diagnostic tool. The trials involve 220 plots, two blocks, four rotations, four amendments (compost, farm yard manure (FYM), straw, anaerobic digestate (AD)) at five rates of application including zero. Four years of data are available (fifth year in progress) where amendments have been withheld from one half of the field. The crop rotations include winter wheat, spring barley, winter oats, winter oil seed rape. Results from trials at RR show that within two years' crop yield increased compared to the start (in some cases higher than when mineral fertilisers were applied) and appear to persist even when amendments are withheld

People

Site

  • Rothamsted Research

Scientific Theme

Collaborators