Applying traditional foliar nitrogen at full rate to milling wheat crops has been shown in replicated trials to increase grain protein by as much as 2%, which equates to a potential boost to gross margins of 260/ha.
The 2014 harvest has widely seen high yields in both feed and milling varieties and highlighted the value of conventional protein-enhancing treatments, versus alternative, lower application rate products.
In a replicated plot trial carried out this year by Omex Agriculture at Castor, near Peterborough, harvested on 4th August, its foliar nitrogen product Protein Plus increased grain protein by 1.6% more than the lower application rate alternatives, which were increased by only 0.4% protein.
The results support the principle that the low-rate products simply do not apply enough nitrogen to the crop, says Omex agronomist Andy Eccles. A number of products are now on the market for application at 33-50 l/ha and offering growers the promise of simpler handling, compared to applying 200 l/ha foliar urea.
The results from this work show that they only provide a small protein increase, roughly in proportion to the amount of nitrogen applied and significantly greater increases are available following application of full rates of foliar urea, he says. This trial demonstrated that the increase in protein was five times higher with conventional foliar urea application, compared to the low application rate alternatives.
In recent years, a number of foliar-applied products have become available as an alternative to the traditional application of foliar urea, says Mr Eccles, which forms part of the HGCA guidance on growing milling wheat. The new products are applied at relatively low rates, making them appear an attractive option but they are largely untested.