Seeing the benefits of sulphur fertilizer

7 April 2016

Grassland farmers are advised to be aware of the benefits of using sulphur fertilizer, particularly for silage crops. A recent report from one of the most important grass-growing areas in Europe is highlighting that an application of sulphur-containing fertilizer early in the season provides the crop with what it needs to complete high performance growth.

Sulphur needed by high performance grass crops
With the arrival of spring, and increased temperatures and day length, grass crops respond with vigorous growth which needs to be sustained throughout the growing season.

The grass for silage crops has to be capable of super-performance in order to be cut as many as six times a year to be stored for winter forage. The quality of growth required is not possible without the correct use of balanced nutrition, including sulphur fertilizer.

Seeing the need for sulphur fertilizer
Unfortunately, according to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) of Northern Ireland, very few grassland farmers soil-test. “Most farmers are completely in the dark regarding the nutrient status of their soils.”

Even worse, signs of nutritional problems in the crop are wrongly interpreted. “Farmers often assume that yellowing of swards is symptomatic of phosphate deficiency, when in fact it is almost certainly the result of sulphur deficiency.” Swards acutely deficient in sulphur are pale green to yellow.

The need for sulphur fertilizer is widespread
The evidence collated by AFBI is compelling. “In the past, sulphur deficiency was primarily confined to sandy soils, and typically occurred during summer. Today, however, it is widespread on both sandy and clay textured soils, and is now most prevalent in spring.”

Furthermore they have issued sulphur fertilizer recommendations for farmers. “AFBI recommends applying between 25 and 35 kg SO3/ha, routinely, as sulphur-containing fertilizer (NS or NKS) to all silage swards in spring, even to those where slurry has been applied.”

Treating the crop and sulphur fertilizer with respect
There are numerous initiatives steering farmers towards a better understanding of their grass swards. Choice of variety, timing of cut, the treatment of the crop post harvest and feeding are all helping to maximise quality and productivity and feed performance in livestock.

At ICL, we want to help farmers to understand the soil beneath their sward and the role of sulphur in soil and the plant. Combining this knowledge with the use of our sulphur-containing fertilizer Polysulphate - they can simply, economically and effectively achieve better crop and business results.