The need to drive down costs was one of the main findings of a review carried out by Maurice Crouch (Growers) last year.
The crop is grown mainly for the flower trade and accounts for 320ha/year of the 400ha the company farms in a triangle from Lands End to Falmouth up to mid Cornwall, from its base at Roscarnick Farm, Truro.
Bulbs are grown in beds with two ridges per bed. Planting is on a three-year cycle, ideally in August-September, when a starter potash/phosphate compound is applied at the same time.
In the review, the fertiliser application method was particularly scrutinised. Farm manager James Walkers said: "We were broadcasting it on the surface and turning it in with the bed tillers.
"Fertilising all the areas we don't plant created a lot of waste. It also fed the weeds.
A review of the different spreading systems available indicated that the Horstine Airstream offered the potential to save money - directly on product and through the elimination of an operation."
The Airstream is capable of delivering solid fertiliser to any rear-mounted implement. It has a 1,600 or 2,200-litre hopper, front linkage mounted on a heavy-duty frame. A single tractor spool drives the positive displacement metering unit.