Root implications in wet soils

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08 February 2024
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The Potash Development Association gives some timely advice.

ALTHOUGH there appears to be something of a north south divide this year, most places in the UK have experienced higher than average rainfall, meaning that crops, especially where later drilling is practised, are not looking as good as planned. 

Even earlier drilled and therefore better-established crops may not perform the same this year because of the level of rainfall experienced and the generally wet soil conditions.

The implications for nutrition on soils is twofold.

Firstly, the availability of nutrients may be reduced (particularly the mobile nutrients) which may have been leached. This will particularly affect nitrogen, but also sulphur and on light soils, potassium. Further to leaching, where soil erosion has occurred, this will also have removed nutrients from the field that are adsorbed onto the soil particles, such as phosphate.

Secondly, the crop’s ability to explore the soil for nutrients is diminished where the root system is restricted. For phosphate and potash nutrition, the principle has always been to maintain an adequate level of nutrients in the top of the soil profile. 

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Although crops with a lower yield potential will not require so much phosphate and potash, these crops could still be limited by the roots' ability to access sufficient levels of nutrition from the soil.

Maintaining soil indices is the best remedy for these situations, however, most soils, especially those that are below the target index, are likely to benefit from fresh applications this spring. 

Source: PDA

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