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Dec 17, 2008

Conclusion of magnesium fertiliser trials in the UK

Results of a new research program with Magnesium fertilisers

A four year research program focussed on evaluating magnesium responses in arable crops in the UK has this year come to a conclusion. Technical Manager for K+S UK & Eire Jerry McHoul explained the aims of the work “There has been precious little quality field work done in recent decades on crop responses to magnesium. The idea therefore was to generate some quality replicated response data in modern crop cultivars and to compare the main sources of magnesium fertilisers available to farmers”.
In 2004, independent research firm Armstrong-Fisher were contacted to conduct a series of replicated field trials at a range of locations throughout the UK selected to represent the major commercial growing regions and a range of soil types.


Highly profitable yield responses to Magnesium applications with advantages in the form of ESTA Kieserite

The results collated from over 14 trials were very consistent year on year. Dr Mike Armstrong from Armstrong-Fisher commented “We are now in a position where we can make some robust judgements from the findings, with a mean response to 400 kg/ha ESTA Kieserite in both potatoes and sugar beet of 3.3 t/ha, the benefit of applying adequate magnesium is clear.  Large differences between fertiliser materials were observed with the mean response from Calcined magnesite (Mg oxide) just 0.7t/ha and 0.9 t/ha in potatoes and sugar beet respectively”.
Jerry McHoul added “The results whilst surprisingly consistent were not altogether a surprise, Kieserite is naturally occurring magnesium sulphate and in this form, the Mg is water soluble and therefore available for crop uptake. In calcined magnesite and magnesium hydroxide, the Mg is insoluble in water and therefore requires lengthy acidification to release Mg to plants”.

Responses to Kieserite at some index 0 sites were approaching 5t/ha which represents a return on investment of over 500% in potatoes.

Jerry McHoul stressed that the full reports have been made available to the committee responsible for the long-awaited new edition of the book of DEFRA fertiliser recommendations, currently known as RB 209 and hoped to see more detailed guidance on magnesium recommendations as a result of this work.

For more information, please call the technical helpline on Freephone 0800 0322480. 

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