In this article, That’s Farming, looks at the fifth Nitrates Action Programme. We focus on green cover – tillage, organic matter, and soil testing.
Green Cover – Tillage
You must complete shallow cultivation of harvested crops within seven days of baling straw. This is to reduce the loss of nutrients post-harvesting and build on current requirements to generate a green cover within six weeks post-harvest.
If you have chopped straw, shallow cultivation or sowing a crop must follow within seven days of harvest.
Shallow cultivation or sowing of a crop must take place within fourteen days of harvesting.
If you have to plough land between July 1st and November 30th, shallow cultivation or sowing of a crop must take place within fourteen days.
The following measures are required for late-harvested crops and spring cereal crops, such as potatoes and forage maize:
- Putting in place 6-metre buffers;
- Identifying critical source areas.
Determination of organic matter
Any farmer in an area where soils have an organic matter content of 20% and above should ensure that a soil test includes this organic matter content.
Phosphorus fertiliser application for soils with more than 20% organic matter shall not exceed amounts permitted for Index 3 soils.
Therefore, from 2022, all soils in the indicative layer for > 20% OM are required to be soil tested for organic matter.
A soil test is to obtain an analysis of a soil sample carried out by a soil-testing laboratory.
- From March 11th, 2022, all farmers above 170kg N/ha must take soil samples.
- From January 1st, 2023, all farmers above 130kg N/ha must take soil samples.
All arable land soil from January 1st, 2023, must take soil samples.
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