Waiting for the OK from Sarah.
Do you put soil health at the top of your agenda? Are you on top of your nutrient management and planning on your farm for the generations to come, as well as achieving top yields for high value end markets?
If the answer is yes, then we’re looking for you to enter the Nitram® award, a special category within the Food and Farming awards for 2015, and part of the 50 year celebration of this quality, British-manufactured product.
The award centres around best practice, cherishing soil to get the best possible yields, whether that encompasses meat, dairy or any arable crop. In today’s volatile market place, growing for the end user is key to maximising returns, so we want to be sure you’re following trends, looking for new opportunities, or adding value to your produce.
Ammonium Nitrate is the most efficient and predictable form of nitrogen for UK growers, with government-commissioned trials demonstrating that, compared to alternate sources, AN loses just three per cent of its value into the atmosphere. And that’s compared to average losses from urea of 24 per cent, which were as high as 58 per cent in some circumstances.
While the Nitram® story began back in 1965, at ICI’s plant, it’s built significantly over the years, to a position today where the iconic blue bag is recognised by farmers across the country, manufactured to ISO 9001:2000 standards, available in 600kg or 1000kg bags, and is incredibly consistent – meaning the product you buy today will be identical to the one you bought last year, or the year before.
When production got underway of the 34.5 % N product, the 1000 tonne/day output made the plant the largest in the world. New plants at Portrack, Billingham, on Teeside followed in 1967 and 1977, and not only was Nitram® the first UK-produced AN product on the market, it quickly gathered traction among farmers, and soon became market leader – a position it still holds today.
Then came a new form of fertiliser, the prill, a term for the small spheres that ensure each granule is the same size, within a clearly defined spec, that guarantee it’s both predicable and efficient, and easy-to-spread accurately whatever spreader is used.
And, as the business has continued to grow, CF Fertilisers’s R&D support has become the backbone of the business, funding trials work as well as developing precision tools that help farmers to manage and improve farming practice and returns.
An example is the N-Min service, which allows an improved assessment of N mineralisation. “While standard figures provide a reasonable estimate in most circumstances, where organic manures are used, or where land has recently been taken on, N-Min results can make a big difference to applications needed and eventual crop performance,” says CF Fertilisers’s Alison Grundy. “The unique aspect is that it also calculates the Additionally Available Nitrogen (AAN), which is the N that’ll be released through mineralisation between spring and harvest.”
Detailed application advice and environmental compliance is provided through CF Fertilisers’s EnCompass software, used by FACTS-qualified advisers. Then there’s the nitrogen-calculation tool, N-Calc, that offers really straightforward advice on optimum application rates and timings.
Attracting a lot of interest is the company’s three year precision farming research project that got underway last September, and is assessing the potential of a new ‘intelligent’ tractor-mounted sensor called ISARIA. It scans the crop throughout the season, and builds up a picture of crop health, learning as it goes.
“CF Fertilisers is continually building on its technical knowledge, and aims to help farmers across the UK produce quality crops that meet and exceed top-end market performance,” says commercial marketing manager Sam Bell. “Farmers going for quality wheats, for example, need to know they can reach milling protein levels, especially now world prices are so volatile. Our aim is to support our growers throughout the process, ensuring they can access all the tools available to guarantee the best returns.
“In a year when Nitram is celebrating its 50th golden anniversary, we wanted to work with Farm Business to promote a special award that would highlight best practice and soil health. Our soil is one of the most important assets we have, and looking after it for the future is key to maintaining yield and profit.”
When you order a full load of Nitram, look out for a delivery in specially-branded gold bags, rather than the iconic blue bag. Farmers who get the special bags will also receive a CF Fertilisers goody bag worth over £50 and a £150 voucher to be redeemed via an approved distributor on the next full load ordered before the end of May 2016.
NFU President Meurig Raymond cut the celebratory cake at Cereals last month, and said he saw the iconic blue Nitram® bags on farms as he travelled the country, emphasising how important security of supply was to British farmers, now that CF Fertilisers is the only British fertiliser business. He also described the product as ‘first class’.