Vologda – PhosAgro ("PhosAgro" or "the Company") (Moscow Exchange, LSE: PHOR), one of the world’s leading vertically integrated phosphate-based fertilizer producers, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the Vologda region have completed a long-term international research project to intensify forage crop production in the Vologda region using PhosAgro mineral fertilizers. The results were presented as part of the business programme of the Golden Autumn 2018 Agricultural Forum.
Fodder grasses are the main element of cattle diet. In the Vologda region, which has a well-developed dairy industry, 62% of arable land is devoted to fodder crops, of which about 200 thousand hectares are perennial grasses. In this regard, new approaches aimed at increasing the profitability of milk production by optimising the cost of feed are of particular importance for the region's economy.
The research started in 2016 at the initiative of PhosAgro and the Vologda region, with methodological support provided by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), cartographic and scientific support from the Vologda Federal Budgetary Arbitration Centre and the N.V. Vereshchagin Vologda State Dairy Academy. Eurofins Agro Testing Wageningen BiV laboratory (Netherlands) performed monitoring of the quality of grass and haylage for the project. The Plemzavod Mayskiy agricultural complex, which is actively developing dairy farming, was selected as the site for testing the transition to intensive fodder growth. The project included over 4,000 head of cattle, including more than 1,700 head of dairy cows.
The new system for growing fodder grasses at Plemzavod Maysky, in accordance with the IPNI 4R Strategy*, involves application of PhosAgro-produced NPK 6:20:30 and ammonium nitrate in accordance with precise timing, quantities and application methods, as well as the use of a high-yield grass mixture consisting of clover and grain grasses – CutMax Digest by DLF (Denmark).
The efficiency of the proposed solution versus the established practice of mineral fertilizer application at the farm was studied over three-years of field testing on an area of 100 hectares. The use of an intensive mineral nutrition system increased the yield of fodder grasses at Plemzavod Maysky by 30% to 10.7 t / ha of dry matter with an increase in the number of mowings from three to four. The crude protein yield increased by 55.5% to 487 kg / ha. The use of the NPK 6:20:30, which is of particular value for crops that require high levels of phosphorus and potassium, has made it possible to optimise the costs of mineral fertilizers and field logistics. The calculation of the economic efficiency of the project shows that the intensification makes it possible to reduce the cost of silage production by 25% and reduce the cost of producing 1 kg of milk by more than 20%.
Svetlana Ivanova, the Vice-President of the International Plant Nutrition Institute for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said “an increase in dry matter yield per hectare due to the introduction of effective mineral fertilizers based on the principles of 4R Strategy increases the profitability of the dairy business. Each additional tonne of dry matter reduces the dependence of farms on concentrates, which are the most expensive components in feeding cattle, and allows farmers to feed more animals.”
“Milk production is a key activity for more than 200 agricultural organisations and farms in the Vologda region. The region has convenient access to Russia’s key markets, and undoubtedly if the target indicators for the supply of regional farms with feeds are met, this project will strengthen Vologda’s position in the domestic dairy market. At the same time, we are pleased that this project was implemented by PhosAgro in the Vologda region, because it can be the starting point for introducing new agrotechnology in the regions that aim to be leaders in both the Russian and foreign food markets,” said the Governor of the Vologda region Oleg Kuvshinnikov.
PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev said, “we are confident that this project has demonstrated the significant opportunities for the domestic agricultural industry that are presented by intensifying agricultural production with the help of mineral fertilizers. As part of the target for doubling food exports by 2024, fertilizer producers see the challenge of providing agricultural producers with effective fertilizer grades and advising on their proper use.
“We believe that the results of the intensification of fodder production in the Vologda region will allow us to extend the practice of optimised use of mineral fertilizers to dozens of Russian regions in which our distribution network PhosAgro-Region operates, providing a full range of PhosAgro products. We are likewise confident that the promotion of new approaches in crop production will contribute both to the provision of the Russian population with high-quality food products, as well as to strengthening the competitiveness of domestic products on global markets.”