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Root recovery to search out soil nutrients

Agronomy Issues
waterlogged wheat roots

Effects of the persistent rains and wet soils could have a double whammy on crop nutrition this spring.

Firstly, AHDB has warned available nutrients will have moved down through the soil profile, and secondly limited rooting could restrict plant’s ability to find it, according to Syngenta Technical Manager, Georgina Wood. 

Georgina Wood at Barton Black grass Focus Site

After the adverse effects of waterlogged soils on rooting so far this season, new roots will be shallow as soils slowly dry down, she pointed out. With a high water table in the spring there will be less natural incentive for deeper rooting.

Furthermore, with residual nutrients washed down and less availability in anaerobic conditions plants, could struggle for uptake. “That will need to be considered in timing and rates of early fertiliser applications, to ensure growing plants have adequate nutrition for initial spring growth.

“It also reinforces the importance of developing a strong root mass to reach and utilise any available nutrients,” she added.

“Not only would shallow rooting reduce the plant’s natural anchorage against lodging, but there would be less root at depth to search out moisture that will make crops more susceptible to drought conditions later in the season,” she warned.

Georgina highlighted the root enhancement of wheat crops from the early T0 application of Moddus will be an essential boost this season.

Lodging risk in compacted soils after waterlogging

“Trials and growers’ experience have repeatedly shown the early applications of Moddus are the most effective at enhancing the root structure,” she advised.

“It is the optimum application to achieve strong anchorage, along with the nutrient and moisture uptake.”

Crucially for the early applications, Moddus is taken up especially well by wheat plants in cool conditions – three times faster than chlormequat at temperatures of 7°C, reported Georgina.

Moddus uptake

In fact, trials with radio-labelled phosphor imaging had shown, when used in tank mix, the rapid uptake of Moddus also helped to get chlormequat into the plant and working faster too.

Variety traits

Syngenta research with Harper Adams University has identified important differences between varieties for natural anchorage and resistance to lodging. The work has identified certain varieties where there is a particular focus on the T0 Moddus application, such as Evolution, Graham and Gleam, for example.

“Where risk factors of establishment system, soil type and conditions are also factored into the agronomic decision, it is likely to make the T0 application of Moddus, in combination with chlormequat, a key treatment this season.”

Full details of the variety profiling and PGR calculator are available here.