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Soil nutrition crop trial boosts carrot yields by 20%

By Noli Dinkovski , 16-Feb-2016
Last updated on 16-Feb-2016 at 17:44 GMT2016-02-16T17:44:52Z

Crop trial: the carrots contained significantly higher levels of minerals and natural sugars
Crop trial: the carrots contained significantly higher levels of minerals and natural sugars

Carrot growers could boost their marketable yields by almost 20% if they adopted a more comprehensive understanding of soil nutrition, a crop trial specialist has found.

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%.

Carrot yields

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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