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HomeBeefVIDEO: How to calibrate your fertiliser spreader
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VIDEO: How to calibrate your fertiliser spreader

Calibrating a fertiliser spreader

The Fertiliser Association of Ireland has released the fifth segment of its video series on the efficient use of fertilisers.

In its most recent clip, the association looks at the importance of setting up and calibrating the fertiliser spreader correctly to apply fertilisers as accurately as possible.

A spokesperson said the role of the fertiliser spreader is often underestimated in the delivery of fertilisers (N, P & K) as evenly and as accurately as possible.

“Fertilisers are a significant cost in grassland and tillage farming systems, representing between 20 to 30% of total production costs for either a cereal or grass silage crop.”

“There are many steps involved in determining the actual rate of fertiliser from soil sampling to preparing a fertiliser plan. To profit from fertiliser planning, it is essential that fertilisers are applied precisely and accurately.

Too little or too much fertiliser

When spreading fertilisers, two common problems that can occur on-farm are applying the incorrect rate and uneven application leading to crop stripping.

Applying the incorrect rate may result in under or overcrop fertilisation. Where too much is applied, it can result in extra fertiliser costs and an increased risk of nutrient losses.

Uneven fertiliser application, for example, in a grass silage crop, may result in a crop with over and under fertiliser application.

Over application increases the risk of crop lodging resulting in poorer quality silage, while under application results in lower grass yields at harvest time.

Setting up a fertiliser spreader

In this video, Francis Quigley, Teagasc, Machinery Specialist, Kildalton College, discusses the main steps to take when setting up the fertiliser spreader to deliver fertilisers as accurately as possible.

Firstly, he highlights the importance of setting the spreader up correctly on the tractor. For example, ensuring the fertiliser spreader is set level, stable and evenly from side to side to ensure even application.

Calibrating the fertiliser spreader is the next step to ensure the correct rate of fertiliser application.

The setting for the shutter opening will differ even for the same application rate depending on fertiliser type and its density and flowability in the spreader.

Francis practically demonstrates how to calibrate a fertiliser spreader to determine the application rate and adjust the application rate regulator.

“It is important to set the spreader to the correct height when you get to the field. The fertiliser spreader should be set 75cm above the crop.”

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