Sulfur is an essential nutrient, but how much do we need?

Canola is often regarded as having a high requirement for sulfur (S), but does it? 

Analysis of plant tissue samples and a lack of response in most CSBP canola trials indicates that deficiencies are rare. And analysis of canola grain from many trials shows that S removal rates are not as high as often thought.

CSBP has tested for S responses in thirteen canola trials since 2008 (Figure 1). Of these, only two have produced yield responses (Manypeaks, 2010 and Cunderdin, 2017). Both sites had very low levels of S in the top 30 cm of soil (2 mg/kg), and plant testing confirmed deficiencies.

 

Figure 1. Canola yields with and without sulfur applications in CSBP trials 2008 – 2018. Trials marked * denote a significant response.


High yields (3.5 t/ha) were grown at Condingup (2008) and Mount Barker (2018) without any S applied!

Analysis of seed also indicates that many Growers are over-applying S with only about 4 kg of S being removed in every tonne of yield.

Sulfur is known to be important for seed oil formation in canola, but interestingly, S supply did not affect oil concentrations in the ten trials which were analysed.

 

Sulfur is an essential nutrient, but applications are often excessive and an unnecessary cost.

 
James Easton
By James Easton
- Senior Agronomist
James joined CSBP in 1988 and has over 30 years’ experience in agriculture.

James has been involved in Field Research through various roles as an Agricultural Officer, Area Manager, Regional Agronomist and Field Research Manager and is now Senior Agronomist. As Senior Agronomist he works with the CSBP Research and Agronomy teams to further our understanding of crop and pasture fertiliser requirements under constantly evolving farming systems and practices.

James is passionate about plant nutrition and sharing this knowledge with work colleagues and farmers as well as with the broader industry. 

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