February 1, 2018
Spring barley profits from copper and zinc seed dressings
Specialist copper and zinc seed treatments can substantially improve the performance of spring barley, according to three years of Agrii trials across a number of UK sites.
Average yield improvements of nearly 10% and margins over treatment costs of more than £70/ha have been recorded in each case from the company’s combination of small plot and iFarm trials, underlining the valuable alternative seed treatments can offer to foliar applications.
“Spring barley suffers more copper problems than many people appreciate,” pointed out R&D manager, Jim Carswell. “Adequate copper is especially important in the first few weeks of the crop’s life; especially in dry springs where initial root growth is sub-optimal. But the classic deficiency symptoms of distorted leaves and poor grain formation only become apparent later on in the season.
“On sites where broad spectrum soil analyses show the nutrient to be on the low side – although not deficient – our works shows that providing copper with the seed, rather than as a foliar spray at three true leaves or stem extension, can be very valuable in bridging an early hungry gap. It also saves on any tank-mixing problems.
“We’ve typically seen increases of around a third of a tonne and up to half a tonne per hectare from a specialist copper seed treatment that tissue testing 30 days after sowing shows is definitely getting into the crop.
“We’ve found similar, if not better, responses from a specialist zinc seed, although in this case only on soils with a clear deficiency of the nutrient,” Jim Carswell added.
“The value of manganese seed treatment for spring barley has been well-recognised in recent years. And our research continues to underline the benefits of using Take-Off alongside to boost root and shoot mass.
On sites where there is a danger of deficiency we’re seeing to copper and zinc seed treatments giving even greater responses. So I would urge growers to seriously consider them this season wherever broad-spectrum soil analyses suggest any doubt over their status.
“Apart from anything else, including these micro-nutrients with the seed means we know they will be there precisely when the young crop needs them most, regardless of the weather which can easily get in the way of the most-timely foliar applications and uptake.
This will guard against both the sort of dry and cold, wet conditions we’ve seen over the past two springs.”