Nitrogen is the most used and least understood of all agricultural inputs. It is well known that typically only a third of applied N taken up by crops. However the effect form of N has on how and where crops grow is less well understood, and offers great potential to increase yields.
Nitrogen can be taken up as amine (NH2), Ammonium (NH4) or nitrate (NO3), but due to conversion by bacteria the vast majority of N applied to crops is taken up as nitrate.
“Growing Tubers Not Leaves”
It is nitrogen uptake that dictates how fast and where crops grow, with nitrogen form being the main contributor to growth hormone synthesis in crops. Nitrates encourage auxin production, favouring vegetative growth (top growth of shoots), whilst amine nitrogen encourages cytokinin production, favouring reproductive growth (the growth we harvest).
When we feed crops N, they mostly take it up as nitrate (no matter what form it is applied in), which means plants mostly use their N to put on top growth. In crops like potato, farmers must manage conflict between applying the N their crop needs, and the crops natural propensity to use that N to grow foliage rather than tubers. This leads to a reduction in tuber setting and bulking.
Levity Crop Science have developed Lono for Potato, a foliar applied product that exposes the crop to bursts of amine N, which helps to direct growth towards tuber development. Research shows that exposure at key growth stages have an effect on where the crop puts its resource, Lono for Potato exploits this, encouraging better tuber setting and development.
David Marks of Levity Crop Science says “Levity’s research shows that exposure to the stabilised N contained in Lono for Potato resets the crops growth habit, encouraging the crop to push it’s energy into tubers. Used at tuber initiation Lono for Potato encourages increased tuber numbers, whilst when used during bulking Lono for Potato encourages increased tuber size”
By applying 3-5 5lt per ha applications at tuber initiation and through bulking, the crop is made to focus growth where it counts… on tubers. The product keeps the plant green, reduces effects of drought, and ensures adequate tuber numbers and bulking.
“Safeguarding yield from stress”
David adds “in our trials in the Netherlands in 2015 it was a drought year. Our plots were greener all season, and you could see obvious green squares in pictures taken by drones. This ability to grow through stress really showed up in yield”.
Independent trials in the Netherlands during 2015 on the variety Innovator showed an increase in tuber numbers just short of 63,000, with 6.1 MT extra marketable yield. Last season further independent trials in the UK and Ireland have shown a similar increase on Rooster (5.5MT) and Sassy (6.2 MT).
Levity is using knowledge of how plants grow, to create inputs which make the most out of crops like potato. By properly understanding how potatoes divvy up their resource we have developed Lono for Potato, a product that ensures the crop focuses on developing tubers not leaf. The product is used by growers across Europe and North and South America to maximise yield and quality.
You can find out more about potatoes, Nitrogen, and how Lono can help improve crops at our upcoming Levity Breakfast Club meeting on April the 4th. Click Here for Info on the upcoming Potato & Root Veg Surgery.
Register on the Potato & Root Veg Surgery Seminar (April 4th)
Levity Breakfast Club is the new forum where you can meet Levity’s team of crop scientists and agronomists. Breakfast Club meetings cover a wide range of interesting topics on agronomy, always with an eye on practical advice that can make a difference to growers.