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Everything you need is in the blue bag

Nitram blue bag fertiliser produces 15% more silage than urea

A three-year research project at Reaseheath College in Cheshire has shown that using an Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser can have significant advantages over urea. As well as creating an average of 15% more grass over first and second cut silage, it created an 8% lift in production in grazed grass.

The Silage Trial

In the silage trial, Nitrogen was applied in the same quantity, at the same time, to neighbouring plots. An Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser – Nitram – was used in one, and a urea fertiliser in the other. For example, in 2017 the team applied 210kg of Nitrogen per hectare to both plots, 120kg at the first cut and 90kg at the second.

The results were clear. The Ammonium Nitrate plots produced 10.2 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, versus just 8.9 tonnes on the urea plots. While there was some variation over the three years, Nitram always out performed urea, on average producing 15% more per year.

“Interestingly, the three years represented a range of growing conditions, from the very dry conditions of 2017 to the relatively cold, wet spring of 2015 and the mild, wet spring of 2016,” says James Holloway, Western Regional Manager of CF Fertilisers, which produces Nitram. “So the Ammonium Nitrate advantage wasn’t just tied to one particular set of conditions.”

The grazing trial

Over the same period, the team also conducted a grazing trial, applying 50kg of Nitrogen per hectare in the first and second grazing rounds, then 40kg in the third and fourth rounds. On average, the yield for the Nitram treated plots was 6.4 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, versus 5.9 tonnes from the urea treated plots. An 8% difference.

The trial highlights the risk livestock producers are taking with urea. As James explains: “Farmers often think they’re saving money by choosing urea, because per unit of nitrogen it can appear cheaper. But if you look at the trials, while an 80 hectare system costs £3,000 less to fertilise with urea, it could cost £13,500 more in concentrate energy to replace the grass yield Nitram would have created.”

Click here for more information about our trial results

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