Crop Nutrition

Hybrid barley nitrogen application

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21 January 2022UK: With spring fast approaching it is important to prioritise crops of hybrid barley for their first application of nitrogen fertiliser. This article covers:

  • When to apply nitrogen
  • How much to apply
  • Tips on calculation and application

Syngenta research has shown that an early dose of nitrogen is critical as it supports the vigorous spring growth of hybrid barley.  The first dose of nitrogen will drive grass weed suppression and promote tillering, which may be of particular importance if crops are thin or BYDV symptoms are visible.

Aim to apply the first split of nitrogen in the Spring at approximately GS25, usually in mid-late February, as soon as conditions allow.

Syngenta trials indicate that applying Nitrogen in a 30:50:20 split delivers optimum performance from hybrid barley varieties.  A 50:50:0 split may also be appropriate especially if farm workloads are high.

Focus on applying the right amount of nitrogen at the right time and the right place to optimise nitrogen use efficiency and minimise losses.  Calculate how much fertiliser is required by the crop, and check compliance with local regulations (e.g. NVZ if applicable). 

It is important to calibrate the fertiliser spreader to ensure that both dose and placement are correct.  Avoid application of fertiliser to soils which are water-logged, frozen or snow covered and where high wind speeds will degrade the spread pattern.

This season, with high nitrogen fertiliser prices it may be appropriate to consider reducing total nitrogen dose to cereal crops. 

The AHDB nitrogen fertiliser adjustment calculator takes into account the price of nitrogen fertiliser and the expected grain price to calculate the economic optimum application.  This is the point at which the cost of applying more nitrogen is not met by the value of the higher grain yields it produces.  

Click here to access AHDB calculator

If you are considering a reduction in total nitrogen dose for crops of hybrid barley, it is important to keep the ratios the same (30:50:20 or 50:50:0) and to ensure that the first split is applied in a timely fashion.

Your specific local situation should be discussed with a FACTs qualified advisor.

Also Read: Australia: GRDC Farm Business Updates set to improve profitability

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