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Nitrogen and sulphur fertiliser management to achieve grain protein quality targets of high-yielding winter milling wheat

Project number: 21140040

Lead partner: NIAB 

Other partners: SRUC, Masstock Arable (UK) Ltd (trading as Agrii), Omex Agriculture Limited, RAGT Seeds, KWS UK Ltd, Allied Technical Centre Ltd (ATC)

Start date: 1 July 2018

End date: 31 March 2022

AHDB funding: £179,548 (AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds)

Total funding: £230,999 (includes in-kind contributions)

The challenge 

With the introduction of high-yielding winter milling wheat varieties, robust recommendations on nitrogen (N) management strategies are required, if optimum protein quality, under various soil and environmental conditions, is to be achieved.

There is some uncertainty associated with the current N recommendations. There is also a need to establish optimal sulphur (S) fertiliser inputs in relation to N fertiliser, as the N:S ratio can impact upon grain protein quality, the production of asparagine and baking performance.

The project

The aim of this research is to update guidance on N and S fertiliser use for winter milling wheat. The work will help farmers achieve optimum grain quality and meet milling specifications for a range of varieties grown in different soil types and environments.

The project will:

1. Consult with industry to identify information, knowledge gaps and requirements relating to N and S management for winter milling wheat. The findings will inform and refine the focus of the field trials being conducted as part of the project

2. Compare grain quality (primarily grain protein and specific weight) responses to N fertiliser application rate and timing, including foliar applications at the milky-ripe stage, for a range of soil types, growing environments and Group 1 winter milling wheat varieties on the AHDB Recommended List (2017–18)

3. Evaluate grain quality (primarily grain protein and specific weight) response to S fertiliser application rate and timing, including foliar applications at the milky-ripe stage, for a range of soil types, growing environments and Group 1 winter milling wheat varieties on the AHDB Recommended List (2017–18)

4. Assess the impact of N and S fertiliser rate and timing on dough rheology and baking performance (protein quality), including (for S) the production of asparagine

5. Develop the basis of new recommendations for N and S fertiliser applications for winter milling wheat quality, applicable to England/Wales and Scotland 

The benefits

The research will provide a better understanding on how N rates, N timings and S rate should be managed to meet the milling specifications (quantified by nabim) for modern Group 1 milling wheat varieties.

The outputs from this project will inform future revisions of the AHDB Nutrient Management Guide and other relevant guidance documents or systems.

Improved recommendations will help farmers meet grain specifications and secure premiums. It will also help to reduce dependency on imported high-protein wheat and increase exports.

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