Current Farm Advice:
Read the latest farm advice and current actions farmers should consider taking
Climate Actions for December
- Order your protected urea for 2023
- Organise your soil sampling now
- Weigh finishing animals and heifers to ensure they are hitting ADG targets
- Plant new hedgerows and trees
- Look at options to import organic manures on tillage farms
In comparing the cost of protected urea, compared to other sources of straight nitrogen. It is important that you calculate the cost of protected urea on the basis of cost per unit of nitrogen.
|Protected Urea Cost €||
Cost per Unit of
Cost per Unit of
The results of a soil analysis are only as good as the sample on which it is based. To give reliable advice, a soil sample must be representative of the area sampled and be taken to a uniform depth (10cm).
The principle of soil analysis is to determine the average nutrient status of an area and to give a measure of the available nutrients in the soil. A sample normally consists of 0.25 – 0.5 kg of soil and this is taken to represent the entire sampling area or field.
- To take a soil sample it is essential to have a suitable soil corer
- Ensure soil cores are taken to the correct sampling depth of 100 mm (4”)
- Take a soil sample every 2 to 4 ha. (5-10 acres)
- Take separate samples from areas that are different in soil type, previous cropping history, slope, drainage or persistent poor yields
- Avoid any unusual spots such as old fences, ditches, drinking troughs, dung or urine patches or where fertiliser / manures or lime has been heaped or spilled in the past.
- Do not sample a field until 3 to 6 months after the last application of P and K and 2 years where lime was applied.
- Take a minimum of 20 soil cores, mix them together, and take a representative sub-sample for analysis, making sure the soil sample box is full.
- Take a representative soil sample by walking in a W shaped pattern across the sampling area.
- Sample fields at the same time of the year to aid comparisons of soil sample results and avoid sampling under extremes of soil conditions e.g. waterlogged or very dry soils.
- Place the soil sample in a soil box to avoid contamination and write the field number and advisor code on the soil box with a black permanent marker.
Soil Sampling Pattern
Weigh finishing animals over the winter to ensure they are on target for finishing.
Invest in a weighing scales. A weighing scales is an important decision support tool, helping farmers to make decisions around performance management.
- Make sure the scales is correctly calibrated
- Weigh finishing animals at housing and again midway through the housing period
- Weigh animals at the same time every time you weigh them. Pick a time and stick to it. Gut fill can have a significant impact on weights so always do the weighing when they are either full or empty.
- Don’t put too much emphasis on weights taken close together e.g. every month. Weighings 2-3 months apart can give a more accurate picture.
- Don’t put too much emphasis on the weight of individual animals. There will be significant variation in a group but the overall trend needs to be right.
- Take action based on the weights. Things to watch for:
- Silage quality
- Silage intake
- Supplementation rate
- Supplementation quality
- Housing – space allowance, feeding space and ventilation
- Fluke and worm dosing programme
Best practice hedge planting
- Mark out the line of the new hedge using wire, twine or lime
- Cultivate with a digger or mini-digger - to make it easier to plant and give plants a great start
- Protect roots from drying out during planting by keeping plants in the bag until needed
- Plant in a double staggered row – with 330mm (just over a foot) between the rows and the same between the plants within the rows – often the length of a boot
- Plant to the same depth as was previously planted. Don’t bury the stem or expose the roots
- Firm in
- Identify a few whitethorn (maybe 5 / 100 m) to be retained as trees and protect with tree guards or shelters
- Prune all other plants except holly down to an inch or so above ground level with a sloping cut to leave a sharp point
- Push a 4 foot or 1.2m wide strip of compostable film or used silage plastic down neatly over the cut stumps.
- Press the edges of the plastic into the ground to hold it down
- Protect from livestock including rabbits if The aim is to remove that wire in a few years
For more information click here Planting Hedges
Organic manures are a valuable and cost effective source of N, P & K especially with the large increase in fertiliser prices. To maximise the recovery of N from high N manures (pig & poultry) it is important to apply and incorporate within 3 to 6 hrs. Ideally test manures in advance of application to know there nutrient values and adjust application rates to supply ~ 50% of the crops P & K requirements. For example an application of 25mᶾ/ha of pig slurry (2,200gals/ac) can supply 52kg N, 20kg P & 50kg K/ha which is ~30% of N and ~50% of P & K requirements for a crop of spring barley. Now is a good time to look at local sources of organic fertilisers and plan for spring crop utilisation.