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Mild and moist weather conditions promote green cover growth

Over the last number of weeks rainfall amounts have certainly made up for relatively dry year up until September very much an indicator of climate change with more drier and wetter spells, writes Mark Plunkett, Teagasc Soil & Plant Nutrition Specialist.

In addition, weather conditions over the last month have been milder than normal with temperatures of 15 to 16˚C and the forecast remains similar for the coming weeks.

The mild and damp conditions have certainly promoted the growth of cereal stubble green covers which will help reduce N losses plus the addition of valuable soil organic matter.  Over winter green cover bring many benefits to tillage soils from protection to over winter rainfall to slowing down water movement through soils thus reducing nutrient losses.  They bring benefits to improving soil crumb / aggregate formation, which enhances soil structure, and increase soils resilience to the effects of climate change.

Time for Fertiliser Planning

Over the coming weeks and months it’s a great time to take out the fertiliser plan and update records for 2022 and plan for 2023.  With fertiliser prices at higher levels compared to this time last year, preparing a fertiliser plan will be very important to make fertiliser decisions for the coming year.  Prepare your fertiliser-shopping list for the coming years crops.  A new fertiliser database will be in place from the 1st January to record national fertiliser usage at point of sale. 

Indications are that there will be more urea fertilisers available in the market place in 2023 due to the higher potential production costs and supply associated with CAN (27% N).

New Soil Sample Requirements

In 2023 up to date soil analysis will be required to apply fertiliser P.  Where soil samples are greater than 4 years old plan to have fresh soil samples taken over the coming weeks to plan and tailor crop fertiliser requirements.


Maintaining optimum soil pH is essential for healthy soils and the availability of major and minor nutrients (Esp. N & P).  Where possible apply lime to correct soil pH levels based on lime advice as per a recent soil test report. Optimum soil pH improves soil function from better soil structure to improving nutrient recycling and availability.

Organic Manures

Use organic fertiliser where available to reduce fertiliser bills in 2023 and add organic matter to tillage soils.  For example, consider cattle or pig slurry, poultry manures, composts or dairy sludge’s from the milk processing industry.  Now is a good time to identify possible sources and plan for application in springtime to supply a proportion of the crops nutrient requirements. 

Get more information and advice from the Teagasc Crops team here
Find your local Teagasc office here