Fertiliser Recommendations for Agricultural and Horticultural Crops (RB209)
The Fertiliser Recommendations for Agricultural and Horticultural Crops (RB209) contains recommendations about the most cost-effective use of lime and major nutrients, such as:
It also provides information about nutrients from organic manures, nutrient management and protecting the environment from diffuse nutrient pollution.
You should use technical updates until a revised version becomes available, or get information from a current Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme (FACTS) qualified adviser.
For further information, see our guide on fertiliser recommendations for crops (RB209).
Principles of nutrient management and fertiliser use
To get the best crop yields, plants need the correct balance of nutrients available to them throughout their growing cycles.
You need to know the soil type for each field you plan to fertilise as this will affect how fertilisers act on crops.
For information on identifying your soil type, see our guide on soil use.
To find out how much of each type of nutrient to apply to your soil, you will need soil sampling results and analysis for the key nutrients for each field. Soil Nitrogen Supply can be done by a field assessment or by soil sampling and analysis. To find out about how to plan applications of fertiliser, see the page in this guide on nutrient management planning.
Protecting the environment from diffuse nutrient pollution
If you farm in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, you need to comply with Statutory Management Requirement 4 to avoid polluting watercourses and groundwater. See the page in this guide on nutrient management and cross compliance. For further information on avoiding diffuse water pollution from fertiliser use, see our guides on sewage sludge, slurry and silage and air, water and soil quality: the basics.
Small increases in the concentration of phosphorus in water can cause eutrophication, or nutrient enrichment. This is a serious problem you can avoid by:
- planning nutrient management carefully
- avoiding surface application of organic manures when soil and weather conditions are likely to lead to runoff
- applying small annual dressings of fertiliser, which you work into the soil surface before winter
Ammonia emissions from livestock manures and nitrogen fertilisers contribute to acid rain, and can damage nitrogen-poor habitats such as heathland. Find out about how to reduce ammonia emissions in our guides on sewage, sludge, slurry and silage and air pollution on farms.
Using inorganic nitrogen fertilisers and storing manures both create nitrous oxide - a greenhouse gas that is implicated in man-made climate change. To reduce this pollution, use fertiliser efficiently and minimise nitrogen losses. You can find out more about reducing nitrous oxide pollution in our guide on air pollution on farms.
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