ABP Ireland has launched a new soil sampling service, which is open to all of its farmer suppliers. From the beginning of 2023, soil sampling is now compulsory for farms with a grassland stocking rate above 130kg nitrogen per hectare and all arable farms.
This innovative new programme is being managed as part of ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme but is open to both members and non-members of the programme.
Soil core samplers are now available for our farmer suppliers to borrow from ABP’s plants across the country.
Research from ABP’s Demonstration Farm in Clonegal, Co. Carlow has shown the benefits of soil sampling in optimising soil fertility and soil health. Soil samples provide valuable information on what fields require lime and what fields require additional phosphorus and potassium fertiliser.
Amie Coonan, Advantage Beef Team Leader, said “Now is the time to consider soil sampling your farm. The ideal time to soil sample is from October to February, and samples should be taken three months after the last application of slurry, chemical phosphorus or potassium.
The information obtained from a soil analysis can help farmers to lower their fertiliser inputs, target slurry at the fields which need it most, and increase grass growth, which will improve the carbon sequestration of your soil.
Recent Teagasc figures indicate that only 16% of soils are at the optimum pH, phosphorus and potassium levels. Therefore, it is very important to start by taking soil samples of your farm, to baseline your farm and put a plan in place. If you don’t measure, you can’t manage.”
ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison officers are available to offer specialised fertiliser and lime advice to users of the new service, based on a farmers’ soil-sample results.
ABP has also provided a number of helpful tips on how to take an accurate soil sample:
- Aim to take one sample for every 5-10 acres of the farm. The maximum area for a soil sample should be no greater than 20 acres.
- Fields and paddocks that have received the same treatment should be kept together for sampling.
- Each sample should be taken from an area that has the same slurry/fertiliser applications; has been reseeded at same time; has received lime at same time; and was cut for silage together.
- The sample should be taken from the field or paddock by walking the area in a ‘W’ shape across a field. This ensures a representative sample is taken.
- Avoid sampling around gates, water troughs, machinery lines, ditches or where a trough was placed in the field, as these areas could distort the sample.
- Each sample should be a full box of the soil corer or 20 cores. Ensure the sampler is taking full 10cm cores to ensure an accurate analysis is achieved.
- If the ground is too wet, the soil sampler may not take full samples. In this case, farmers should wait for ground to dry out before sampling.
- A freezer bag can be used to store the collected soil samples. Each bag should be labelled with the field name and the name of the farmer in permanent marker.
Farmer suppliers that are interested in taking part in the programme should contact their local ABP site.