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Precise Application of Fertilisers

Dr Frank O’Mara, Director of Research at Teagasc, said: “Fertilisers are a big cost and a big investment on Irish farms. It is important to get the right fertiliser, spread at the right rate, in the right places, and at the right time.

A large crowd of farmers and fertiliser industry representatives were in Teagasc, Kildalton Agricultural College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny, today Thursday, 4th May for the Fertiliser Association of Ireland (FAI) – Spring Field Meeting. The event was focused on promoting good soil fertility management through precise application of fertilisers. Results from a survey of fertiliser use on Irish farms from 2005 to 2015 were also presented. The Fertiliser Association of Ireland Technical Bulletin Series (No. 3) on precise application of fertilisers was launched at the event.

Opening the event, Director of Research at Teagasc, Dr Frank O’Mara said: “Fertilisers are a big cost and a big investment on Irish farms. It is important to get the right fertiliser, spread at the right rate, in the right places, and at the right time. Today's event demonstrates the latest technologies to help do this, but the 'old' technologies of calibrating the spreader ad having an even spread pattern are still vital to getting value from fertiliser.”

On the launch of the technical bulletin, President of the Fertiliser Association of Ireland, P.J. Browne outlined the industry contribution to promoting good soil fertility and said: “The FAI always endeavours to bring the best information to enable Irish farmers to get the most output from the least inputs necessary, in an environmentally sustainable manner."

Describing the need for accurate and even fertiliser spreading , Dermot Forristal, Researcher on Crops and Mechanisation at Teagasc Oak Park, showed the importance of machine choice, good quality fertiliser and precise adjustment of the spreader to achieve even application.   Mark Plunkett, Teagasc Soil and Plant Nutrition Specialist said: “Precise application of fertilisers will increase the potential of our soils to grow higher crop yields of sufficient quality.”

Dr. Emma Dillon, Economist with the Rural Economy Development Programme, Teagasc Athenry, described forthcoming data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey on fertiliser use in Ireland over the period 2005-2015, and the factors affecting demand; indicating that “Fertiliser price and weather were two of the main influences on demand, with farmers quick to react to these stimuli.”  According to Dr David Wall, leader of the Soil Fertility Research Programme at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle; “Trends in nitrogen fertiliser use have remained somewhat steady over the last decade, while there was a large decline in P and K use on farms from 2006 to 2012 with some recovery in recent years. This has led to a massive decline in soil fertility levels nationally.”

Technical Bulletin Series No. 3 on Precise Application of Fertilisers is available at http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/ and http://www.fertilizer-assoc.ie/publications/technical-bulletins/