Sulphur is an essential plant nutrient for the growth and development of crops. Sulphur can be considered as the second most important nutrient after nitrogen. In the past, crop sulphur requirements have been met through deposition of sulphur dioxide emissions from industrial processes and the burning of coal. The implementation of environmental regulations in recent years and the switch to using fuels with a low sulphur content has significantly reduced sulphur emissions resulting in minimal deposition on to land from the atmosphere.
Nitrogen and sulphur are both critical nutrients required in amino acid and protein synthesis, if either element is limiting then protein production and plant growth will be limited. This not only reduces yield but also wastes nitrogen, as plants cannot utilise one without the other. Apart from its role in protein production, sulphur also contributes to crop hardiness through reducing the impact of stresses such as late frosts.
Crops with a short vegetation period need high amounts of sulphur in a short period but crops with a longer vegetative period require lower amounts of sulphur as they have more time to recover sulphur from the soil. Soil sampling and analysis can be carried out to quantify the actual amount of sulphur available in the soil, however due to the mobile nature of sulphur a plant tissue test is the most accurate test to determine the requirement for sulphur fertiliser.
Mineral fertilisers contain sulphur in the sulphate form, leaving it immediately available as a nutrient and easily absorbed for plant uptake. Sulphur is highly mobile in soils and reaches plant roots quickly, but this also causes leaching of sulphur and therefore applications of sulphur should be made little and often.
Fane Valley stock a wide range of fertilisers containing sulphur and our FACTS qualified agronomists can offer tailored advice and products to suit your requirements, ensuring the need for sulphur is met at farm level. For any further information on these products and our service please contact your local store, Fane Valley representative or Agronomy and Forage office.