Sulfur for Breadmaking Quality

Correct sulfur fertilization minimizes formation of acrylamide, a processing contaminant in wheat baked products

August 11, 2021
2 mins

Thinking about fertilizer use for yield may not be enough. Now farmers growing wheat destined for human consumption are being encouraged to realize how their choice and use of fertilizer affects the product derived from the grain they grow, particularly the flour destined for making bread.

For a generation, sulfur deposits from the atmosphere, from industrial pollution, have been decreasing. This began in Europe and now that clean air policies have been put in place elsewhere in the world, soil sulfur levels in many fields are in decline. As a result, correct fertilizer application – with a sulfur containing fertilizer such as Polysulphate – has never been more important.


Quality – Not Just Yield – Must be the Focus

It seems the full impact on the crop of having the right levels of sulfur at the right time is becoming evident. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Cereals & Oilseeds trials in the UK have shown that correct sulfur fertilization minimizes formation of acrylamide, a processing contaminant, in wheat baked products.

Acrylamide can form during high-temperature cooking and processing of wheat. According to AHDB if wheat is grown under conditions of sulfur deficiency or if the N:S ratio in grain exceeds 16:1, then acrylamide is likely to form, and bread-making quality can be reduced.


Farming for the Food Chain

Processors have modified their methods to minimize the formation of acrylamide during preparation for bread-making. But while there’s a solution in fields, growers can continue to expect to be encouraged to minimize acrylamide formation by applying sulfur. If applied when sulfur deficiency is likely during the wheat plant’s growth, the use of a sulfur balanced fertilizer such as Polysulphate can achieve this.


Getting Sulfur Levels Back on Track

Knowing why soil sulfur levels are important is one step, knowing precisely how to get them where they need to be is the next step. The UK’s AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds team put together recommendations for oilseed rape, wheat, and barley to get soil sulfur levels back on track.

This kind of detailed, practical guidance is to be welcomed. From fertilizer to field, from farm productivity to factory, and then to food for us all to eat and enjoy – this shows how in the supply chain everything we do is connected.