Teagasc’s soils database shows that only one in 10 grassland soil samples analysed from 2007 to 2013 have the optimum balance of the major soil nutrients to maximise grass production according to Teagasc’s Mark Plunkett.

He says soil analysis is the most cost effective tool for optimising fertiliser and manure applications. An up-to-date soil test report will provide a sound footing to tailoring fertiliser requirements on a field-by-field basis and ensures maximum potential return from the spend on fertiliser.

Plunkett highlights that now is the best time to take soil samples and plan lime/fertiliser/ manure programmes for 2015. For grassland soils request an S1 test to check the soils lime status, and P and K levels.

To make sure that fields are sampled correctly Teagasc ask farmers to take note of the following:

  • for sampling purposes divide the farm into fields or areas of between 2-4ha;
  • take separate samples from areas that differ in soil type, previous cropping history, slope, drainage or persistent poor yields;
  • avoid any unusual spots such as old fences, ditches etc.;
  • do not sample a field for P and K until three-to-six months after last application of fertiliser P and K (now is a good time to soil sample). Where lime has been applied allow a time lag of two years before sampling for lime requirements; and,
  • follow a ‘W’ soil sampling pattern to ensure that the sample is representative of the entire field. Ensure that all soil cores are taken to the full 10cm depth.

Soil analysis costs €0.50c/ac/year for an S1 test which will ensure cost-effective crop nutrition.