Balanced Soil Nutrition: Getting the Nutrients Right
Amplifying Nitrogen Effects With Higher Sulphur Inputs.
Like all good nutrition, balanced soil nutrition is about getting the nutrients right. In this post, we look at the greater efficiencies of using Ammonium Sulphate and Sulphur to provide Nitrogen.
It is essential for any applied fertiliser that all nutrients be in BALANCE to achieve efficiencies and thus greater return on fertiliser expenditure.
Mineral nutrients have synergies and antagonisms. Minerals which are synergistic enhance each other’s uptake by plant roots whereas mineral antagonism retards their uptake. Minerals are either positively or negatively charged to varying strengths.
Our Goal: Balanced Soil Nutrition
When mineral nutrients are in BALANCE in the soil, and preferably in a biologically available form, the plant roots will receive their nutrients in BALANCE. The preferred method plant roots take up nutrients is by their synergistic relationship with soil biology. Root exudates feed and excite biology in the rhizosphere and in turn the biology mineralises nutrient availability to the roots. In a phrase, balanced soil nutrition.
Sulphur is synergistic with nitrogen, enhancing plant uptake and efficiency of utilisation. In short, the more nitrogen required for production, the more sulphur required for BALANCE.
Soil biology has a high requirement for sulphur encouraging much more biological activity which in turn mineralises and releases more nitrogen from the soil organic matter.
The majority of soil test only regard sulphur adequacy for sufficient plant needs, however biological processes in the soil require much higher levels for their functions.
Grain protein and oil content are enhanced with balanced ratio of N:S.
Nitrogen : Sulphur
Numerous trials report the importance of N:S rations in the soil. GRDC recently reported another trial once again confirming this:
Under field trials in Western Australia’s wheatbelt region sulphur was found to beneficially impact nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and grain yield. Strikingly, in sulphur deficient conditions, adding more nitrogen to a crop does not result in higher NUE, but this levelling of NUE can be reversed by providing nitrogen in combination with sulphur, due to the stimulation of nitrogen uptake.”
This article then continues to explain:
Wheat is not able to reach its full yield potential and make efficient use of nitrogen for grain protein synthesis without adequate sulphur availability’, Professor Ma says. ‘Furthermore, it is sulphur metabolism that provides grain with the chemistry that makes protein aggregation possible. Sulphur deficiency is an emerging issue,’ Professor Ma says. ‘in part, a possible cause is the purity of modern nitrogen fertilisers, since in previous years the formulations did contain plant available sulphur.”
It pays to be skeptical of your soil test if the comments show adequate levels. How much nitrogen are you applying to your crops or pastures? Do you want your soil biological life to be stimulated and work for you? Are you wasting hard earned money on misdirected fertiliser applications? The right nutrients are essential for balanced soil nutrition.
Answers can be found with Independent Comprehensive Soil Analysis by APAL Agricultural Laboratory. Contact Soil Management Systems for answers from an independent Soil Scientist.