With the rising cost of nitrogen fertilisers, increasingly frequent severe weather due to climate change, environmentally friendly standards for reducing pollution from excess nitrates and societies demand for sustainable agriculture have prompted Ecoculture to develop fertiliser products that address these issues.
For over a decade, Ecoculture has been implementing technologies to maximise food production in the most sustainable manner possible. This involves enhancing crop yields and quality while minimising irrigation water consumption and reducing fertiliser inputs, particularly nitrates, a major challenge in agriculture.
During the 2022-23 campaign, two scientific trials were conducted on wheat in the provinces of Seville and Cadiz, which represent 60% of the cereal cultivation area in the Andalusian community.
The objective of these trials was to observe whether there were any differences in terms of yields and quality between farmer standard and Ecoculture fertiliser programmes.:
- Farmer standard treatment: Base dressing with high-phosphorus fertiliser + urea top dressing.
- Ecoculture treatment: Base dressing with high-phosphorus fertiliser, urea top dressing reduced by 20% + Ecoculture programme of NHDeltaCa + XStress.
The Ecoculture programme included NHDeltaCa, a stabilised amide-form nitrogen that can be applied to both roots and leaves. Uptake increases cytokinin synthesis resulting in increased production of root mass and secondary root hairs. This enhances soil nutrient and water absorption, making the plant more efficient. The plant also produces a greater number of tillers and increases green leaf area, positively impacting the final yield from more photosynthesis.
XStress is also used, a product that supplies micro-nutrients in a unique formulation that prevents plant stress , such as sudden temperature changes or water deficits. Applying XStress ensures the plant continues to grow even under stress.
Summary of trial results:
- The plots treated with the Ecoculture programme produced 9.4% more stems than the standard plots.
- The plots treated with the Ecoculture programme had 11.1% more grains per ear than the standard plots.
- The grains from the plots treated with the Ecoculture programme were 25% heavier than those from the standard plots.
- The plots treated with the Ecoculture programme showed a yield increase of 31.2% higher than that of the standard plots.
- The amount of nitrogen needed to produce 1 tonne of grain was 32.6% less in the farmer Ecoculture programme than with the standard programme.
- The profitability of the Ecoculture programme per hectare is €50 compared to a loss of -€6 from the standard programme.
In a year with very damaging hot weather and extreme drought in the area, farm yields were very low. However, significant differences were observed between the plots treated with the Ecoculture programme and the standard plots, proving that wheat can be successfully grown with lower nitrogen inputs and in high stress conditions.