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Soil Fertility Week: Growing Farm Profit

A series of events organised by Teagasc are taking place across the country this week as part National Soil Fertility week. Speaking at the annual conference of the Fertilizer Association of Ireland today, Teagasc researcher Stan Lalor said that low soil fertility could lead to lower farm incomes if farmers do not effectively manage their soil fertility. Teagasc has observed substantial drops in soil nutrient levels over the last 5 years. If this trend continues there is concern that grass and cereal output levels will fall. Research has shown that the grass yields on fields low in Phosphorus (P) soils can be 1.5 tonne dry matter per hectare lower than where there are optimum P levels. Sixty percent of soils analysed by Teagasc in 2012 were below the recommended Index 3 for Phosphorus.

As part of National Soil Fertility Week Teagasc are hosting a series of public seminars across the country. These commenced yesterday and continue until Friday, 8 February. The two hour seminars will provide farmers with the essential steps to measuring and managing soil fertility accurately.
The seminars will focus on:

  • Best practice in taking and interpreting a soil sample
  • Applying lime to achieve the best growing conditions
  • Managing slurry to optimise nutrient value and improve environmental outcomes
  • Designing a fertiliser plan to meet your crop requirement
  • Developing strategies to maintain and improve soil fertility

Pat Murphy, Head of the Teagasc Environment Knowledge Transfer programme, said that “The experience of our advisers is that falling nutrient status on farms is beginning to have an impact on production. We are advising farmers that it is essential to have soil samples analysed, to use the results to draw up a nutrient management plan and to follow that plan during the production year. Following a fertiliser plan means that farmers can target nutrients to where they are needed and avoid over application where they are not. We believe that there are enormous benefits to be gained by farmers if they take a small amount of time now to look at their soil fertility situation.”

Details of all events are available in national press and on www.teagasc.ie/events