Making Best Use of Soil Analysis Results
John O’Connell farms in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, alongside his wife Amanda and their three children. The O’Connell’s operate a mid-season lambing flock alongside a dairy heifer contract rearing enterprise. A key part of John’s farm plan and his plan to increase the sustainability of his farm has been to improve the soil fertility on the farm. All the farm was soil sampled again this year and based on these results the fertiliser programme for the farm has been updated which John has done with his Teagasc team - local advisor Tom Coll, Sheep specialist Ciaran Lynch and researcher Frank Campion.
A lot of effort has been put into addressing low soil pH’s across the farm in recent years and John has been spreading lime in response to his soil analysis results. ‘’One of the first things I have had to do to improve my soil fertility and grow more grass has been to spread lime as a lot of the farm was below pH 6.2. It can be challenging to get lime spread here as my land can be very wet for long periods of the year but it pays to be organised and get it spread when the conditions are right’’ explains John. Just over 64% of the farm area is now at the target pH of 6.2 or higher which will help to improve the P & K indexes across the farm and the response to fertiliser.
John has been measuring grass for a number of years now and sees big benefits from it even from monitoring the effects of improving his soil fertility; ‘’I grew 13.7 tonnes of grass DM/ha in 2021 and 14.4 tonnes of grass DM/ha in 2022 without increasing the level of chemical N I am spreading and using the soil analysis to make better use of the fertiliser I do spread’’.