Improving soil fertility provides the largest cost-saving on Irish farms.
That was one of the most significant findings unearthed in the Smart Farming programme last year.
Paul O’Brien, IFA environment chair and Smart Farming leader, said:
“Farmers taking the Smart Farming challenge in 2020 identified potential savings of €1,624 or €25/ha by implementing measures to improve soil fertility,” he said.
He added, “Soil is one of the most important assets on any farm.”
“Better soil fertility can support increased production, improve farm incomes and enhance environmental performance on farms.”
He outlined that about 90% of the soils sampled in Ireland lack phosphorus, potassium, or lime, limiting their production potential.
Smart Farming has updated its soil fertility guidance to give farmers the most up-to-date information and advice on soil management measures, including:
- Testing soils regularly to establish what nutrients are present and how much extra nutrients may be needed;
- Correcting soil pH through liming to increase the availability and efficiency of applied nutrients;
- Thirdly, creating a nutrient management plan for their farm;
- Using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) to reduce ammonia losses;
- Also, using protected urea to reduce ammonia & nitrous oxide losses.
As a sustainable development goals champion, Smart Farming links practical actions, farmers can take to save costs and improve the environment to the UN sustainable development goals.
This includes, Life on Land, which aims to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable management of land.
“Improving soil fertility also benefits water quality, air quality, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emission reductions.”
“Farmers can get a free soil test, resource efficiency assessment and cost-saving study for their farm by taking the Smart Farming challenge,” he concluded.
Last year, we featured a video series from the Fertiliser Association of Ireland, focusing on the efficient use of fertilisers.
Soil sampling is the first step to establishing soil fertility levels on a field-by-field basis.
Tim Sheil of the Fertilizer Association of Ireland said:
“Using the correct procedure for taking soil samples will ensure that the results will be accurate and representative and provide a solid foundation to build both lime and fertiliser plans for the soils on your farm.”
You can find all videos in the series.