– Yeah, setting the spreader up just right is very important to me. It’s time and money well spent, it’s protecting my investment, it’s protecting my environment – and it’s easy!
Like any good farmer, Rob knows that the nutrients must be spread accurately, evenly and at the right rate across the whole spreader width. This is key if you want to maximise the yield and quality you get from your crop – and return on your investments.
– You have put thought into what fertiliser to get and spent your money on quality products and tools, so don’t mess it up by skipping on the spreader settings. That is gonna cost you at harvest time!
The early morning mist softly blurs the horizon outside Scotton, the North Lincolnshire village where Rob Ramsay is the third generation running the farm his grandfather bought in 1957.
Rob is out in the field with Yara’s advisors Jez Wardman and Natalie Wood, taking soil samples. The analysis of the chemical, physical and biological status of the soil will help Rob choose the right fertiliser for this season’s crops. The next step is making sure he is setting his spreader correctly for the selected fertiliser.
– Some people wait with doing their settings until the day they are going out in the field to spread. The beauty is that you can do this outside the season, as long as the right fertiliser has arrived in your shed. Take care of the settings then, check to make sure your spreader is in good working order – and you’re set up for being a spreader pro all season.
Different kinds of fertiliser units vary in size and weight. Two granules of the same size can be thrown very different distances by the same spreader, because one may weigh more than the other – think golf ball versus ping pong ball.
– For this reason, using a compound fertiliser is best practice when it comes to even spreading. The compound has all the nutrients present in each and every piece, unlike the blend fertilisers, where the different nutrients come in different sizes, shapes and weights – making it harder to achieve a perfectly even spread of each and every nutrient, says Natalie Wood.
– But you still need to know exactly how your spreader works with the exact fertilisers you have bought, adds Rob.
– A couple of simple test procedures will sort this out and give you the settings you need, well before lunch time. A tray test, for example, will show how evenly the spreader distributes each type of fertiliser across the full width.
Rob and his brother Andy run the farm together. Each year they hire a company to test the spreader settings for three or four types of fertiliser. They set up trays along the full spreading width, drive past them with the tractor and spreader, measure the results and adjust the spreader until each type of fertiliser is evenly spread.
– Those settings are simply put down into a notebook that we always keep in the tractor. Once I have a fertiliser I want to use, I can just go to the book, find the recommended settings, set the machine up and go out to the field, knowing that every inch of my crop is getting what it needs, and nothing goes where it shouldn’t.
You can do the tray test yourself if you have a kit, but Rob prefers having experts do it for him.
– They do it all in less than half a day. Spending two or three hundred pounds on getting these settings exactly right before the start of the season, when I’m spending more than ten times as much on fertiliser through the season… well, to me, it’s a no brainer. It’s not only protecting my investment and the environment, it’s also about my pride and passion as a farmer, Rob says.
Scotton is a small and quiet village, with Rob’s farm being the only one still running. His grandfather travelled down from Scotland along with a friend who considered moving here to advise him about the farm that was put up for sale.
But the friend changed his mind and Rob’s grandfather jumped at the opportunity. He bought the farm on the spot, sold his own farm up north and started anew in Scotton with his family.
To Rob, being a farmer just like his dad was the only plan all along.
– Oh yeah, I was always gonna be a farmer. I’ve been driving tractors since I was six years old. I learned the ropes from my father, watching him work in the fields. I’m proud to be a farmer because I’m out in the soil and the fields every day. I’m proud to be a farmer because I’m providing food for people. I’m proud to be a farmer because I look after the environment in the best possible way I can. Yeah, I’m just proud to be a farmer!
These short stories will show you why and how choosing the right fertiliser and ensuring the nutrients are spread accurately and evenly pay off. Here is our advice on how to protect your investments as well as the environment:
Improving nitrogen fertiliser efficiency is one way your farm can become more productive, profitable and sustainable. Try our quiz to find out how you can improve your farm's nitrogen fertiliser efficiency.
Yara supply our solid and liquid fertilisers and micronutrients through a network of local suppliers Use our interactive map to locate your nearest suppliers.
To spread fertiliser accurately over wide bout widths it is important to use a quality fertiliser. All Yara fertilisers have excellent spreading characteristics but the following fertilisers are some of the most popular and are particularly recommended.