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Pick up the AHDB Nutrient Management Guide at Grassland & Muck 2017

Visitors to Grassland & Muck 2017 will be the first to get access to the AHDB Nutrient Management Guide (RB209).  The publication that is being launched at the event will be available at the AHDB stand (323).

Nutrient management reviewed

A £98,000 project to review the current Fertiliser Manual RB209 was overseen by the AHDB-led UK Partnership for Crop Nutrient Management and delivered by an ADAS-led consortium of experts from across the UK research community. It was supported by £200,000-worth of in-kind funding by industry.

The 2016 review, which took account of the latest research developments since 2009, was split into six distinct themed work packages: principles of crop nutrient management; organic materials; grass and forage; cereals and oilseeds; potatoes and horticulture.

Farmers, growers, agronomists, breeders, researchers, fertiliser companies and other industry experts were among those consulted on how existing RB209 recommendations could be improved to incorporate the latest scientific advances.

Paul Westaway, who chairs the livestock technical working group, said: “We are particular proud of the changes to the nitrogen recommendations for grass as we have made them simpler to use and focused on what yield farmers need to produce to maximise home grown grass and forage in diets.

“For farmers and growers producing and using organic materials, the updated figures in the organic materials section will be very useful when calculating their nutrient and financial values.”

New format

RB209 offers best practice guidance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on application of mineral fertilisers, manures and slurries to crops and grassland. The most recent edition was published by Defra in 2010.

The updated edition will be split into seven colour-coded sections, so users can cherry-pick relevant information and individual sections can be updated more easily to reflect the latest research.

Key changes for farmers growing grass and forage crops

  • Nutrient recommendations for grass and forage crops are now presented in Section 3 with the inclusion of guidance on how to use the field assessment method to calculate Soil Nitrogen Supply
  • Grassland nitrogen recommendations have been revised to focus on target yield of grass production without linking to particular animal production systems (dairy, beef or sheep), milk yield, stocking rate or concentrate use.
    • The number of tables have been significantly reduced and simpler to use
    • Whole season nitrogen requirements and nitrogen application sequences are provided separately for cutting and grazing situations
    • total nitrogen recommendations can be adjusted according to Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS), Grass Growth Class (GGC) and seasonal rainfall
  • No changes have been made to phosphate and potash recommendations for grazing, silage or hay systems
  • The recommendations for nitrogen use in autumn grass establishment has been increased
  • Minimum changes have been made to nutrient recommendations for maize and wholecrop silages
  • The nutrient recommendations for swedes, turnips, rape and kale have been altered to reflect more grazing in-situ, so fewer nutrients are being removed off the field
  • The nutrient recommendations for fodder beet have been increased as higher yields are being targeted

Key changes for farmers using organic materials

  • Nutrient values for organic materials are now presented in Section 2
  • Nutrient content figures have been added for goat farmyard manure and farm-sourced and food-based anaerobic digestate, while digested liquid biosolids have been removed
  • Nutrient content figures have been updated for horse, cattle, sheep and duck farmyard manure, cattle and pig slurry, biosolids and compost
  • Sulphur availability from organic materials have been updated
  • Nutrient content of poultry manure is presented according to dry matter content
  • These changes mean that calculations for organic materials are becoming more accurate

For the latest information on RB209, visit ahdb.org.uk/rb209