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Soil Sampling and Analysis Factsheet

Soil Sampling and Analysis Factsheet

Teagasc recently published a compendium of 20 factsheets providing the latest technical advice on soils, nutrients and fertiliser. The first of these is about Soil Sampling and Analysis and can be read here. All 20 will be published here on Teagasc Daily

Farmers are urged to focus on Nutrient management planning, optimisation of soil fertility, using organic manures strategically and increasing clover in swards, all balanced with prudent fertiliser usage.

Soil sampling and analysis establishes the requirement for major soil nutrients such as lime, Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). Knowing the farm soil fertility, field by field, is the starting point to controlling fertiliser costs.

Where soil samples have not been taken for several years consider soil sampling now.

The cost is modest at about €1.50/ha/year, €0.60/ac/year Do you want to have soil samples taken? Contact your local Teagasc advisor

Taking soil samples yourself:

  • Soil sample areas 2 – 4 ha
  • Use a suitable soil corer
  • Sample top 10 cm of soil
  • Wait 3 – 6 months after P & K applications
  • Take approximately 20 cores
  • Leave a gap of two years after a lime application

Tasks arising from soil test results

  1. Identify areas of the farm that require lime
  2. Identify fields with high and low P & K soil fertility
  3. Target organic manures to fields with low soil P & K fertility (Index 1 & 2)
  4. Soils with good fertility (Index 3) – apply maintenance levels of P and K
  5. Ensure that demanding crops (e.g. silage fields) receive sufficient nutrients to drive growth and replace offtakes
  6. Index 4 soils should not require additional fertiliser

Soil results and the soil P & K index system

Where soils are extensively grazed (low stocking rate) and, in particular species rich pastures, lower target fertility and nutrient application rates are appropriate

Soil analysis & planning nutrient applications

  1. Develop a farm liming plan for the next three to four years based on up-to-date soil test results and select the most suitable type of lime to build/maintain soil pH levels
  2. Prepare a plan to utilise valuable organic fertilisers such as cattle slurry
  3. Develop a field by field fertiliser programme to select the most suitable fertiliser types and tailor application rates based on soil analysis

NMP Online

Enter soil sample results into NMP (Nutrient Management Plan) Online with the help of your Teagasc advisor

Putting your soil fertility results into NMP Online can give you:

A fertiliser plan

  •  Split by split, based on the soil fertility of each field

A lime plan for the farm

  •  Targeting fields where lime will have the best impact

A plan to make the best use of slurry and FYM

  • Targetted at the fields that need it
  •  At the right time of year

Ask your Teagasc advisor for NMP online maps

  • Colour coded maps help to focus the mind
  • See at a glance where you need lime
  • See at a glance where you will get the best value from slurry this year

Deirdre Hennessy, Seamus Kearney, Mark Plunkett, David Wall, Mark Moore (Editor), Pat Murphy, Stan Lalor, were the main contributors to this series of leaflets. Numerous colleagues from Teagasc AGRIP, CELUP, REDP, Signpost, PR dept. and advisory service also participated.

To access the entire compendium of 20 factsheets see Soils, Nutrients and Fertiliser Factsheets

Find more information on this topic in Soil & Soil Fertility