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Soil Results

In 2017 Teagasc analysed a total 45,227 soil samples comprising of dairy, drystock and tillage enterprises. 41,869 soil samples were from grassland farms with 25,729 from drystock enterprises (Beef & Sheep), 16,140 soil samples from dairy enterprises and 3,358 from tillage enterprises.  The following is a summary of the main changes for soil pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in 2017.

Dairy

  • 37% of soils with a soil pH <6.2 (20% decrease)
  • 60%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (1% Increase)
  • 59% of soils at K Index 1 & 2 (6% Increase)

Drystock

  • 53% of soils with a soil pH <6.2 (15% decrease)
  • 67%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (3% Increase)
  • 62% of soils at K Index 1 & 2(5% Increase)

Tillage

  • 70% of soils with a soil pH <6.2 (17% decrease)
  • 56%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (No Change)
  • 44% of soils at K Index 1 & 2(No Change)

Soil pH levels have improved on both dairy and drystock farms in 2017 which is a reflection of the increase in the average lime usage in the last 5 years.  Since 2013 the average lime applications nationally was 930,000 which is a 25% increase on the previous 10 years (2003 to 2012) of an average of 740,000 tonnes.

Soil P levels continue to decline and the percentage of soils at index 1 are increasing which is quite a concern as soil fertility declines productivity levels will also be reduced over time.  Soils at K index 1 and 2 have increased by 9% and 7% on dairy and drystock farms, respectively.  This may be due to surplus grass cut as bale silage on the grazing areas and sufficient K levels not returned to replenish soil K levels.

Overall grassland soil samples tested show that only 12% (2% improvement) of soils have optimum pH, P and K to maximise grass production despite the improvement in soil pH levels.  The continued decline of soil P levels and now the rapid increase in soils at K Index 1 halt the improvement in soil fertility.  88% of soil samples tested in 2017 are sub optimal and have a requirement for lime, P or K or a combination of all 3. 

For tillage soil samples there has been a very good improvement in soil pH levels with 70% of soils now with a soil pH >6.5.  Soil P and K levels have remained stable in 2017 (no change), possibly indicating that maintenance levels of P and K are applied for tillage cropping.

Soil Fertility Data 2017


Soil Fertility Data 2016


Soil Fertility Data 2015


Soil Fertility Data 2014