Nutrition check list

  1. Good crop nutrition will help to achieve maximum crop productivity for maximum profits with minimal impact on the environment while adhering to all legislation. Some basic principles should be followed to achieve these goals:

  2. Identify the soil type in order to understand nutrient requirements.

  3. Analyse soil for nutrient content every 3-5 years and adapt nutrient inputs to maintain values of:

    pH 6.5 (5.8 peat soils)
    P Index 2
    K Index 2-
    Mg Index 2
  4. Determine the Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS) either by Field Assessment Method or by sampling and analysis for Soil Mineral Nitrogen.

  5. Determine nutrient supply from organic sources and deduct available nutrient sources from total crop requirement.

  6. Apply Phosphorus and Potassium to maintain nutrients from crop removal and apply additional quantities if soil indices low.

  7. Apply nutrients at the correct timing to match plant demand.

  8. Check that the fertiliser spreader or sprayer is calibrated to deliver nutrient accurately.

  9. Record all fertilisers and organic materials used.


N max limit

In NVZ zones, the average nitrogen application rate (from manufactured fertiliser and crop-available nitrogen from any organic manure) must not exceed the N Max limit. It is also good practice to follow these guidelines for land outside of NVZ zones. The N Max limit applies to the average across the farm.

For full details of N Max limits please refer to the DEFRA document; Guidance on complying with the rules for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in England for 2013 to 2016.

The table below highlights the N Max limits.

Crop Expected yield N max limits*
Grass n/a 300

Where grass is grown to achieve at least 16% protein, nitrogen may be applied to a level recommended by a FACTS advisor: Grass irrigated = up to 700kg N/ha, No irrigation = up to 500kg N/ha

In addition, for 2nd and subsequent years, the FACTS advisor must be supplied with soil analyses from autumn soil samples (1 Sept - 31 Oct) to be used in the calculation of N demand. An additional 40 kg N/ha is permitted to grass cut at least 3 times in a year.

Crop nutrient removal

Significant nutrients are removed from the field during crop removal. The levels of these nutrients that are removed from the system will vary significantly depending on yield. In order to maintain soil nutrient levels the nutrients that are removed with the crop need to be replaced by either fertiliser applications and/or organic  additions.

The table below highlights the nutrients required for soils at target Index 2 at different crop yields and to maintain the soil at the target Index.

      Nutrient requirement (kg/ha)
Crop Straw management Yield (t/ha) P2O5 K2O
Grass Silage (25% DM) 23 (1st cut) 40 80
15 (2nd cut) 25 90
9 (3rd cut) 15 80
7 (4th cut) 10 70