PotashpluS, a new fertiliser that delivers both potash and sulphur as well as other essential plant nutrients, is available this autumn for UK farmers. PotashpluS is being produced by ICL UK at its Boulby mine in North Yorkshire where polyhalite is being mined from beneath the North Sea.
In 2011, ICL UK (formerly Cleveland Potash) began mining polyhalite, a naturally occurring evaporite rock which occurs 100-150m below traditional potash seams. Boulby is ‘the first and only mine in the world’ extracting this mineral today which will be sold and marketed under ICL’s trademark brand PolysulphateTM.
While Cleveland Potash has been the UK’s sole potash producer for over 40 years, in June 2017 the company decided to cease potash production and focus its business on polyhalite. This restructuring involved ICL making a £3.2m investment at Boulby to convert existing plant for PotashpluS production using existing infrastructure and maintaining jobs for the workforce.
ICL PotashpluS is made from potash and Polysulphate produced in the UK. It is ideally balanced for many arable, horticultural and grassland crops and provides four essential plant nutrients in a single fertiliser: potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur plus trace elements such as boron.
ICL PotashpluS delivers 37% potash (part in the form of potassium sulphate and part as potassium chloride); 3% magnesium; 24% sulphur (as sulphate) and 8% calcium.
“This is an ideal combination of nutrients,” says Scott Garnett, ICL UK’s agronomist. “Potassium aids photosynthesis and drives yields in many crops. Magnesium’s role in photosynthesis is well-known, in addition it is important for root development.
“Calcium is less well recognised, but it plays an important role in the growing tips of plants. Sulphur has become increasingly important as deposition from the atmosphere, due to industrial emissions, has reduced over the past 30 years or more.”
While the application of fertiliser sulphur is increasing across UK crops, data from the British Survey of Fertiliser Practice suggests that much more is needed, especially on grassland.
“PotashpluS and Polysulphate give farmers a different choice of applying sulphur other than nitrogen-based products which run the risk of creating ammonia emissions and acidifying soils,” says Scott. “The prolonged release rate of the sulphate in our product benefits the crop and is more aligned to its needs during growth. This makes it a very efficient fertiliser and one that reduces the risk of losses through leaching. This is a product that will suit all soil types.
“ICL PotashpluS is available now as a quality 3mm granular product that will spread accurately up to 36M and deliver nutrients accurately across the field. A product that delivers potassium and sulphate in the correct balance, it is well worth farmers giving it a try,” concludes Mr Garnett.