NRM Laboratories, part of the Cawood Scientific Group, has launched a new grain nutrient content testing service, Grain-Check, to help growers identify the next season’s crop nutrition needs. The service, covering cereal, oilseed and pulse crops, compares nutrient levels against ADAS target and benchmark values.

The company says that grain analysis at harvest to assess the performance of farm crop nutrition policies provides a vital source of data to evaluate fertility. The latest version of the industry standard crop nutrition guide RB209 also recommends routine grain analysis.

“We have been analysing grain for nutrient content for over a decade, but sample numbers have grown dramatically in the last 2 years,” notes NRM business development manager Rory Geldard. “Many growers see grain analysis as an opportunity to review the season’s crop nutrition policy and fine-tune for the coming season.”

NRM has been working with ADAS to provide grain analysis for the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) project since 2016. Data from the YEN suggests that nearly 3 out of 4 grain samples are deficient in at least one plant nutrient. “There’s still lots to learn, but 10 years of research on phosphorus, plus growers’ experience with benchmarking their results in the YEN, show clearly how grain analysis can immediately help to guide farms towards better crop nutrient management,” explains ADAS head of crop performance Roger Sylvester-Bradley.

Submitted samples are tested for nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, boron and molybdenum contents. The results are presented comparing the sample’s nutrient contents alongside the target for each element, and with N:S ratios. Growers and their advisers can use this data to identify nutrition shortfalls. Results, expressed graphically, can be sent in PDF format or as data files for use in digital field management and decision support systems.

“A shortfall doesn’t necessarily mean a soil fertility problem – it could be poor soil structure, shallow rooting or another nutrient deficiency which is impacting nutrient availability,” explains Mr Geldard. “Interpretation alongside soil samples and plant tissue analysis by a FACTS qualified advisor is vital.”

In addition, the company says the analysis can help identify grain suitability for use as home-saved seed – ADAS research has identified a linkage between zinc content and germination potential.

More information from Mr Geldard on rory.geldard@nrm.uk.com or 07917 064591.