ADAS launches “global first” grain analysis initiative to improve crop nutrition

YEN Nutrition
  • In time for harvest 2020, ADAS has launched a new YEN initiative called ‘YEN Nutrition’ – to support those seeking to improve the nutrition of arable crops.
  • Available to anyone in the UK or abroad, YEN Nutrition provides comprehensive grain analysis on all 12 essential crop nutrients and allows participants to benchmark their crops’ nutritional performance against other growers.
  • Used in conjunction with soil and leaf analysis, YEN Nutrition reveals the final status of the crop, giving members oversight of their crop’s ultimate nutritional achievements, and empowering them to make the right choices to enhance their future crop yields, field by field.

Grain analysis – the final piece of the puzzle?

The need for routine grain analysis has grown increasingly evident over recent years. Grain testing of over 900 samples from YEN farmers through the last four years revealed that 74% of cereal crops were deficient of at least one nutrient. This indicates that despite the best efforts of many growers, nutrition was commonly inhibiting the full potential of their crops.

While soil analysis can identify availabilities of P, K & Mg, and leaf analysis can reveal immediate nutrient shortages, grain analysis tells whether a crop actually captured enough of each essential nutrient throughout its entire life.

It is for this reason that, from this year on, the AHDB’s Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) recommends routine analysis of grain and other harvested materials alongside routine analysis of nutrients in soil. This makes the UK the first country to realise that grain analysis not only provides an accurate estimate of nutrient offtakes, but that it also provides a full and final post-mortem of the crop’s levels of all 12 essential nutrients.

Equipped with a better understanding of their crop’s nutritional uptake abilities, experts believe that farmers and agronomists could soon apply nutrients (especially P & K) more accurately, and the resulting accuracy of nutrient applications will minimise costs and environmental impacts.

Benchmarking performance for shared learning

By benchmarking their grain analyses against analyses from all other concurrent and similar crops, farmers and advisors will immediately see how well their crops’ nutrition ranked, and will identify where attention to crop nutrition should best be focussed. As more farms become involved in grain nutrient benchmarking, and more data are collected, farmers and advisors will be able to understand the nutrition of their crops with ever-increasing precision.

Engagement in YEN Nutrition will begin in 2020 with monitoring and sharing the nutrient status of many crops through grain nutrient benchmarking. This will lead in future seasons to shared nutrition testing, better identification of critical thresholds and aberrant nutrient ratios, and a web-platform enabling wider use of the ‘share-to-learn’ approach.

Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley, Head of Crop Performance at ADAS, said: “This is a world first – after ten years of research, initially on phosphorus (P), and more recently on all 12 crop nutrients, we believe that, with minimal extra effort, farmers can now be much more confident in achieving full crop nutrition by measuring all the nutrients that they harvest, and then sharing their results.”

Anyone interested can register and enter their field details via the YEN Nutrition