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Spring barley inputs in Scotland

Agronomy Issues
07.04.2020

Laureate Spring Barley

Fertiliser inputs for your spring barley crop will depend on a range of factors including your previous cropping, soil type, winter rainfall and yield potential.  We are all aware of the very wet autumn and consequently soils being depleted of leachable nutrients, namely nitrogen and sulphur.

The most important factor when deciding your nutrition programme is the end market, especially if growing spring malting barley. 

If growing the grain distilling variety Fairing, aim for grain N above 1.85%.  High nitrogen is key for grain distilling use in order to break down the starches of non-malted cereal grains into sugars. A three split programme has proved effective with roughly 40% in the seedbed, 40% at GS13 and the final 20% to be applied between GS30-49 to boost grain N, dependent on soil moisture. 

Laureate is a non-GN variety from Syngenta which is approved for brewing as well as malt distilling. When growing Laureate for brewing, aim for 1.6-1.8% grain N. A limited number of growers will need to aim over this for export contracts. Generally, a 50/50 split of half the total nitrogen dose in the seedbed and half by GS13 has delivered the right grain N for brewing specification in our trials.

Spring barley nutrition goes far beyond just nitrogen. Always aim to keep soils at target indices for the key macro-nutrients and consider other yield and quality limiting deficiencies. Getting spring crops off to a good start will be critical. Ensuring crops have available phosphorus will aid with root development.

Sulphur should also be applied to many crops either separately or in conjunction with nitrogen, depending on which source type is being used, to ensure the correct N:S balance is maintained.

In some situations, other micronutrients may require addressing, especially manganese but also copper.

Attention to detail with spring barley nutrition is critical for achieving contract specification for sale in the target end market.