ESR 9, Olha Khomenka, presents her recent experience of beginning field trials to investigate effects of novel REFLOW fertilisers on soil health and crop yield.
In 2020 REFLOW ESR9 and ESR10, Wenxuan Shi, conducted controlled plant growth experiments with REFLOW fertilizers in growth room facilities at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle. In the experiments we investigated the effect of REFLOW fertilisers on soil P dynamics and crop yield. And now it is time to take the results and go to field scale. Our field experiment is using fertilizers produced from recycled dairy processing waste and examine their effect on soil phosphorus, crop yield and the environment. We will conduct field trial under natural conditions and using our rain out shelter set-up to cover plots to simulate rainfall events and collect runoff from the experimental plots.
The first step in the field trial was assessment of the site to measure soil phosphorus and pH. Then we added lime to bring the soil pH to an optimal value to maximize phosphorus availability for crops.
In parallel laboratory testing of the REFLOW fertilizers was carried out in Teagasc laboratory facilities to determine nutrient content in the products. Based on the laboratory analysis of the products and results obtained in the earlier plant growth experiments we will determine the recycled fertilizers application for the experimental plots.
The field trial will run for two growing seasons with crop, soil and runoff sampling. Collected samples will be analysed in the laboratory facilities using both conventional agronomic tests such as Morgan’s P and Mehlich3 extractions, and novel isotope techniques. At the end of the field trial we expect to calculate the fertilizer equivalency value of the novel REFLOW fertilizers, assess P losses into the environment, heavy metal accumulation, and changes in soil P dynamics.