Top tips when switching from solid to liquid fertiliser

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Machinery dealers are reporting increasing interest in using liquid rather than solid fertilisers, so what should farmers bear in mind when considering the switch?

Farm infrastructure will play a part in whether to go for solid or liquid fertiliser as well as labour considerations, says Darren Glegg, Yara business manager, liquid and foliar products.

“It is about efficiency. Machinery has got bigger. When farmers are making such a major capital investment, they want to get the most out of it and be able to apply liquid fertiliser as well as ag chem. With a sprayer just one person is needed whereas with solid fertiliser an additional person is needed to bring bags to the field.”

While some farms may have shed space for a fertiliser spreader, liquid fertiliser tanks may be more convenient for others, he adds. “It is about weighing up the best system for your farm.”

A key benefit of using liquid fertilisers is being able to apply fertiliser more accurately at field edges, says Mr Glegg. “This can be up to 20% of the field in some cases.”

With some fertiliser manufacturers finding it difficult to source product currently, Mr Glegg says Yara is carrying on as normal. “Our fertiliser is produced in Holland and Germany. We are also well placed to advise customers on application equipment, rates, timings and agronomy.”

Visitors to the Midlands Machinery Show in November will be able to see a wide range of sprayers and nozzle options on show and speak to experts about the best choice for their farm.

Applying liquid fertiliser is not like applying plant protection products. It is applied with a spray nozzle producing a much larger droplet size, which is less affected by wind and weather conditions,” says Chandlers managing director Gavin Pell.

“This means it can be applied in a wider range of weather conditions than would be possible with granular fertiliser.”

“If soil is bone dry, with solid fertiliser you have to wait until it rains before it is taken up. You can also dose more accurately with liquid fertiliser and there is less likelihood of leaching, meaning less fertiliser is potentially wasted.”

Even those farmers planning to continue using solid fertilisers but who are buying a new crop sprayer want it to have the ability to apply liquid fertiliser, says Cliff Buck, technical sales manager at Knight Farm Machinery. “This means that somewhere in the back of their mind they are thinking about liquid fertiliser as an option for the future.”

Most crop sprayers can apply liquid fertilisers; however, growers should be aware that the liquid is abrasive and, if not cared for, the sprayer will deteriorate faster than when only used for ag chem, says Mr Buck.

“It needs to be thoroughly washed down, ideally every time fertiliser is applied, paying particular attention to boom joints, hydraulic cylinders and areas where liquid fertiliser can sit. It is also important to fit the correct nozzles. Either multi stream nozzles or dribble bars are popular choices,” he explains.

“Another consideration is the density of the liquid fertiliser when using an auto application rate control system on the sprayer. If the fertiliser density is anything other than one (water) the control system needs to be adjusted.”

Many growers are considering a fast fill pump to increase the speed of filling the sprayer, he says. “It is also important to have the ability to pump out any remaining sprayer contents into the storage tank.”

For farmers switching to liquid fertilisers, application accuracy is essential, and Billericay Farm Services, which specialises in applicators can help farmers choose the right one. “Our liquid fertiliser applicator selection allows for consistency, accuracy and enables you to achieve professional and productive results, no matter what the task,” says director Simon Nichols.

So what equipment will visitors to the Midlands Machinery Show be able to see? Chandlers will be showcasing broadcasters from KRM Bogballe, mounted sprayers from Berthoud, trailed sprayers from Chafer and self-propelled sprayers from Fendt, including the Rogator 655, says Mr Pell. There will also be a considerable line-up of other equipment from a wide variety of manufacturers, with over 210 trade stands already booked, an increase of 20% on previous years.

Visitors can claim two NRosO points and two BASIS points for attendance at the show.

They can either fill in their membership number and name / address details when they register for the show using the following link or visit the NRoSO/BASIS point stand at the show in the GSEH and register membership number and address.

About the show

The Midlands Machinery Show is organised by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society (NNAS) and is a platform for agricultural businesses to showcase their latest range of tractors, machinery, services and technology to farmers, machinery operators, contractors and landowners.

NNAS is an agricultural charity; its objectives include promoting and organising the show, as well as supporting young people with careers in agriculture, through its annual Education Awards and Midlands Agricultural Engineering Apprenticeship awards.

Contact for further information

Elizabeth Halsall

Events, Show and Development Manager

Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society

Organiser of Midlands Machinery Show T: 01636 705 796 E: [email protected]