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Soil testing requirements in 2023

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.

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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.

Soil testing

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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