When Should I Apply Fertilisers?

Fertilisers are used to support plant growth by providing necessary nutrients to the soil. These nutrients help cereal crops maintain optimum health and promote stronger development and yield.

The most important nutrients to supplement crop growth are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK). These are the most common nutrients included in fertilisers; however, they often contain a mix of other necessary nutrients to help sustain growth. Calcium, magnesium, and sulphur are among these, along with several micronutrients.

Benefits of Fertilisers

Fertilisers hold many benefits including:

  • Increased Yields: Healthy plants generate higher yields – fertilisers provide essential nutrients to the soil that it may be lacking. This ensures the crops are getting the right nutrient balance they need to maintain health. Balanced nutrition from fertilisers also strengthens plants’ resistance to pests and diseases, resulting in higher yields.
  • Enhanced Crop Quality: Increasing soil nutrients through fertilisation can improve the quality of your cereal crops. Good nutrient levels encourage stronger growth and help form better developed grains, with improved size, weight, nutritional composition, and market value.
  • Improved Soil Fertility and Health: By adding scarce nutrients back into the soil, fertilisers help improve its overall health and fertility. This improved fertility helps the soil increase long-term productivity and sustain a healthy environment for cereal crop growth over time.

Important Nutrients for Cereal Crops

Primary Nutrients:

  • Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is one of the key elements used to encourage plant growth. This nutrient is essential to support plant development and growth, chlorophyll productions and plant health. It is most important to apply N in the time between stalk development and flowering to strengthen the plant growth.
  • Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus is important to be given to plants during the planting stage to encourage early root development and increase root area. P is vital for seedlings and young plants as it helps transfer energy from sunlight to plants, stimulating early root and plant growth and speeding up maturity.
  • Potassium (K): Applying potassium to the soil should ideally be done before or during planting, ensuring its availability throughout the growing season. K is vital in increasing vigour and disease resistance in plants. It also helps form and move starches, sugars and oils in plants.

Secondary Nutrients:

  • Calcium (Ca): Calcium contributes to plant cell wall structure and stability. It is best to apply before or during planting to help develop strong roots. Ca is also helpful for plant nutrient uptake and overall plant vigour.
  • Magnesium (Mg): Magnesium is vital for photosynthesis and is a key component in chlorophyll. As Mg is vital in converting energy to food, it is important that it is applied to the soil before or during planting to allow it to help in plant development and growth.
  • Sulphur (S): Applying Sulphur to your soil before and during planting can assist in plant formation and root development. S is an essential nutrient in protein formation that reacts with enzymes in the plant cells to help develop a healthycrop.

Alongside these essential macronutrients are several micronutrients which are needed to ensure your crop gets the best yield and quality possible. These nutrients are only used in small amounts and include boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn).


Fertilisers play a crucial role in supporting cereal crop growth by providing essential nutrients to the soil. They offer several benefits by contributing to increased yields, enhanced crop quality and improved soil fertility and health.

Primary nutrients, such as, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with secondary nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulphur, are vital for plant development. Micronutrients also play a crucial role in maximising crop yield and quality. Fertilisers provide these nutrients in precise amounts, allowing farmers to adjust the nutrient supply to meet the specific needs of their crop and soil.


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