Creating a nutrient budget will help you to make best use of nutrients across the farm; it could save you money and reduce diffuse pollution risks.

Soil testing every three to five years can help you to better plan nutrient applications. Soil testing will indicate if some fields need work to adjust soil pH, or may need more or less nutrients than are being currently applied.

Take account of the nutrient value in farm slurry and manures. Analyses of farm slurry show that a single 10 m3 tanker of slurry can have an equivalent fertiliser value of between £30 to £50. Slurry sample at the time of spreading and factor analysis results in to your nutrient budget.

How you apply nutrients could also affect their value. For slurry application, consider alternatives to the splash plate. Spreading using a splash plate can lose around 30% of the available nitrogen as ammonia gas in just the first 3 hours, leading to up to 80% of the nitrogen being lost within 12 hours of application*

Carry out a nutrient budget. PLANET Scotland is free to use; email farmingandwater@sac.co.uk to enquire about a free PLANET Scotland training course to help you create a nutrient budget for your farm.

*Frost and Mulholland (undated). Alternative Slurry Spreading Systems Technical Note, DARD.