Is it worth the move to liquid fertiliser?

A labour and machinery review carried out on Richard Orr’s Monitor Farm has made him stop and think when it comes to replacing his rusting fertiliser spreader. Along with benchmarking, the review allows a greater understanding of the cost/Ha and cost/hour of running each machine which has made him look at liquid fertiliser options.

Richard can either spend nearly £12,000 on a new spreader, or it would cost him £3,500 for a GPS system to be installed on the sprayer, although some would argue that he could make this money back in the savings from more accurate pesticide and fertiliser applications.

The report also found that the self-propelled sprayer on the farm was being underutilised, and when Richard reviewed the figures he found that moving to liquid fertiliser could reduce his sprayer costs by £2.42 per ha. By increasing the number of hours/year that the sprayer would be used it would probably require replacement sooner, so that would need to be taken into account in the figures.

There are both pro’s and con’s when it comes to moving to liquid fertiliser, but understanding your costs through benchmarking can help you make informed decisions, but ultimately the choice between liquid or solid fertiliser has to suit your farm, often because of existing infrastructure.

Richard’s Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s Con’s
New spreader approximately £11,500 spend For best results need GPS £3,500 spend
Liquid nearly same price as solid Sprayer may need replacing sooner
More accurate placement especially headlands Scorching of crop if applied wrong
No shed space for fertiliser Corrosive if not cleaned properly
Michelle Nuttall

Michelle Nuttall

AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager for North West and Northern Ireland