Correct timing and placement of fertiliser applications to potatoes is important to achieve the highest level of nutrient use efficiency, which also minimises any environmental impact whilst maximising crop productivity.
Nutrients need to be applied as accurately as possible to the zone of uptake, before or at the time that the crop needs them. Failure to ensure that each plant gets the right balance of nutrients can spoil crop quality and reduce yield.
Pre-planting fertilisers are either broadcast or banded. Generally, banded fertilisers give the best results.
When broadcasting fertiliser it is essential to ensure that it is evenly distributed. Small variations in distribution of plus or minus 10% will result in yield losses of up to 1.3t/ac.
Nutrients need to be accurately timed to coincide with critical growth stages; for example calcium at tuber initiation. Because different varieties initiate tubers at different times, it is important to visually check when the first tubers are being formed in order to ensure maximum nutrient efficiency.