Best practice crop nutrition

Best practice crop nutrition

12 September 2018

Chicory & Plantain

Chicory and plantain are both useful forage crops for dairy and dry stock operations. Used as part of a pasture mix, both chicory and plantain are a useful feed source when pasture quality is poor. Chicory can also be used as a stand-alone crop. Both forage crops can be used as part of a pasture renewal program and thanks to their high-quality feed profile, they deliver good results when used for finishing stock or for milk production. Research has shown that insufficient N can decrease the leaf area of chicory shoots and that 12 days after sowing, the dry mass ratio in plants grown with low N was one third of those grown with higher N levels.

Fertiliser N applied to pure stands of plantain will promote growth, but if the plantain is part of a mixed pasture, other species may respond more rapidly, which will have the effect of suppressing plantain growth



Like many crops, maize performs best when sown into high-fertility soils. Maize is a depletive crop (i.e. it depletes the soil’s nutrient status) unless both the physical state and the nutrient status of maize paddocks are addressed before crops are sown, yields will be low. The actual fertiliser product needed and the rate to be applied will depend on soil test results.

Poor growth conditions early in the lifecycle of maize can impair root development, which means the crop will not grow to its potential. A nutrient deficiency is one of several factors that can cause poor growth conditions – using a starter fertiliser means the maize crop will not want for phosphorus (P) or nitrogen (N) during its early days.

Fodder Beet

How much a fodder beet crop yields depends on how quickly leaf area is established. Using a starter fertiliser gives seedlings easy access to essential nutrients, getting them off to a good start. Seedlings that have good vigour in their early growth phases will also be able to compete strongly with weeds. Like most crops, fodder beet needs nitrogen and phosphorus in the starter fertiliser.

Boron is an essential trace element and is needed to produce a healthy, high-yielding crop. A deficiency will cause heart rot, which results in the growing point dying and turning black. Rot then develops and spreads from the heart to the crown and shoulders. To prevent heart rot, include boron in the starter fertiliser at a rate of 2-3 kg B/ha.

New Pasture

A healthy, high-producing pasture is an extremely valuable asset on both dairy and dry stock farms. Renewing old, run-out pastures can deliver a significant economic benefit for farmers, provided that it is done carefully.

Soil fertility deficits need to be corrected, so that the new pasture species will establish and thrive. Correcting any soil nutrient deficiencies will depend on the soil test results. However, once established, light applications of nitrogen will help ryegrass produce more tillers, so plants are more likely to have 20 tillers by their first summer, which helps with persistence.

Nitrogen also helps to speed up leaf expansion, allowing plants to compete with weeds. New pasture particularly benefits from nitrogen applications during the first 18 months, as it takes this long for clover to become sufficiently established to fix appreciable amounts of atmospheric nitrogen.

To find out more contact your local TSR or Farm Source Store

Article supplied by Ballance