Managing soil fertility and avoiding soil compaction are
fundamental to successful tillage farming. David Wall, from
Teagasc Johnstown Castle, outlined the importance of correct soil
pH for optimum crop performance, as well as how to get the best
out of phosphorus (P) fertiliser. He also identified the strengths
and weaknesses of a range of nitrogen (N) fertiliser types.
TWO KEY OPERATIONS FOR GROWERS
Crop production and nutrient cycling are two of the key functions
that intensively farmed tillage soils must perform. Experienced
farmers will know that not all soils (or fields) have the same
production potential (or suitability for certain crop types) or
respond in terms of their soil fertility status to the nutrients that
are applied. This poses a challenge for individual farmers and
their advisers when planning nutrient and fertiliser management
strategies for their farms. A blanket fertiliser application approach,
where all fields receive and `are perceived to respond' to similar
nutrient application rates, may not be effective for attaining target
yields and margins.
Overall, a very small proportion of soil samples tested achieved
good overall soil fertility (approximately 12 per cent of tillage
Soil pH is the first area that needs attention, with about 55 per cent
of tillage soils requiring lime applications in order to reduce acidity
levels. Target a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 for most crops in the rotation, but
oats and potatoes will grow well down to pH 6.0.
Figure 1 shows the nutrient availability for crops at a range of pH
4.5 5.5 6.5 7.5
Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Al
AVAILABILITY OF NUTRIENTS
At Johnstown Castle, soil analysis levels are classified into Index
levels 1-4 (see Table 1).
Soil Index Index description
Response to fertilisers
David outlined the results of P trials with spring barley and winter
wheat as follows.
MANAGING SOILS AND FERTILISERS
FOR HIGH CROP YIELDS AND PROFIT
Attendees at the Teagasc
National Tillage Conference
on January, 31, 2018, at the
Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny.
Jim O'Mahony, IFM tillage editor,
reports from the Teagasc National
Tillage Conference 2018, which took
place in Kilkenny at the end of January