Trials carried out by agricultural contractor NDSM compared standard best practice fertiliser inputs with OptiYield – a software package that provided tailored nutrition and bio-stimulant recommendations for different soils and crops.
In 2014, the combined programme produced a 19.41% increase in marketable yield, due to higher gross yields and fewer small roots. In 2015, that increase was 16.19%, leading to a two-year average of 17.8%.
In contrast, carrot yields have generally plateaued over the past 20 years.
The crops also contained significantly higher levels of minerals and natural sugars, improving human nutrition, while showing a 50% decline in cavity spot.
In addition, OptiYield delivered significantly higher yield gains than either nutrition or bio-stimulation alone, according to NDSM.
“Over the past couple of decades, significant gains have been made in breeding and precision farming – yet yields have remained largely unchanged,” said Simon Fox, director of Emerald Crop Science, OptiYield's maker.
Three main fertilisers
“Crops need a balance of up to 14 nutrients, yet the industry still focuses on the three main fertilisers – nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. By running a detailed soil analysis through the computer programme, we can pull together a unique, bespoke mix of nutrients and bio-stimulants to meet the crop needs.”
The randomised trials were replicated across five 10m plots – each with four rows – in 2014 and 2015, hosted by a North Yorkshire carrot producer.
OptiYield covers more than 30 crops including wheat, oilseed rape, potatoes, sugar beet, crucifers, legumes, brassicae and alliums, as well as a number of sub-tropical crops.
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