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Sulphur deficiency – the downside of a cleaner environment

23rd April 2021

Cutting industrial emissions has helped to reduce pollution and improve the environment but has left some crops short of a key nutrient, sulphur, which used to be deposited on farmland in the form of acid rain. Sulphur is an important nutrient for building proteins, amino acids, Coenzyme A and vitamins such as biotin. It also helps plants to synthesise oils and encourages photosynthesis, energy metabolism and carbohydrate production.

Oilseed rape, silage grass, legumes, such as peas, beans and lucerne, and some cereals are particularly sensitive to sulphur deficiency as evidenced by yellowing of young leaves (similar to nitrogen deficiency), low chlorophyll production, and reduced and stunted growth. In oilseed rape, the leaves are also very pale and distorted. Sulphur deficiency is exacerbated by conditions such as light and sandy soils, low organic matter and poor soil aeration as well as high rainfall and cold wet soils.

Combining the right ratio of sulphur with every application of nitrogen in the spring optimises crops' uptake. For example a 10:1 ratio of N:S works well for cereals while oilseed rape and silage require a larger amount of sulphur to achieve good yields, for example an N:S ratio of 5:1.

BFS Fertiliser Services has formulated NitroSulph, a liquid fertiliser combining nitrogen and high potency sulphur in the form of sulphate which is readily available for plant uptake. It contains a urease inhibitor which reduces the loss of nitrogen from leaching or as ammonia in the atmosphere and improves the absorption rate of other nutrients throughout the plants' growth. Importantly, it can be tailor-made to suit the exact requirements of each crop.