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The importance of having a nutrient plan on your farm in 2022

The importance of having a nutrient plan on your farm in 2022

Now more than ever the efficient use of all organic and chemical fertilisers is vital to supply fertiliser requirements and control costs on farm. Tom Deane, Teagasc Advisor, Enniscorthy looks at importing slurry to minimise fertiliser cost but advises on completing a Nutrient Management Plan first

For centuries the importance of the main nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and Sulphur have been realised, and applied to farm land in order to produce greater grass and crop yields.

Fertiliser usage globally has been increasing by about 4% annually. This along with increased gas prices as well as transportation costs and the war in Ukraine has led to record prices being paid in 2022.

The CSO recently announced that fertiliser prices have increased by 149% since 2021. Due to the intensive nature of farming in this region, most farmers have no choice but to purchase this important input as crop yields and livestock cannot be sustained without it.

Now more than ever the efficient use of all organic and chemical fertilisers is vital to supplying farm fertiliser requirements and controlling production costs at farm level.

Ground limestone is excellent value due to its cost to benefit ratio of between €4-7 for every €1 invested.  With a pH lower than 6.3, utilisation of fertilisers applied as well as nutrients within the soil is sub optimal.

NMP Online and importing slurry

Teagasc  has a tool we use called NMP Online. Information relating to soil sample results, concentrate usage, stock numbers, area being farmed as well as crops etc. are put into the tool and it generates a report with the recommended and maximum amounts that can be applied to each field and crop type.

With the increased interest in importing of slurry and farmyard manure, this presents a good opportunity to decrease fertiliser input costs. There is no shortage of intensive farms looking to export slurry and FYM typically to lower stocked farms.

It is important that farmers have an idea of the maximum amounts they can import, in order to avoid potential cross compliance breaches as well as environmental concerns. This applies to the purchases of concentrates, fertiliser, as well as organic manure imported to the holding in each calendar year.

Cattle slurry is valued at €56 per thousand gallons and farmyard manure €19 per tonne. Where this saving is realised is in the reduction in chemical fertiliser required.  A nutrient plan will outline the quantities that can be imported onto each holding as well as quantities to be applied in each field.  

A common misconception is that all farms with little or no livestock can import nutrients, but this is not necessarily the case, depending upon stocking rate and fertiliser N and P purchased within the calendar year.   

Low Emission Slurry Spreading and TAMS

Low emission slurry spreading is to be encouraged due to the lower losses of Nitrogen from this system. There are currently TAMS grant aids available for Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) equipment. However, these are being phased out as LESS becomes mandatory-it is currently mandatory for derogation farmers as well as those stocked over 170kg N/Ha. I would encourage farmers considering this to look at placing an order and applying for TAMS grant aid sooner rather than later as the waiting times on machines ordered is currently 6-12 months plus.

Read more here about Soil & Soil Fertility

Teagasc Advisors are regular contrbutors of articles on topics of interest to farmers here on Teagasc Daily Contact your local Teagasc advisor for more advice on Nutrient Management Planning.