Top tips from farmers

The FAS Soil and Nutrient Network farms, started originally as a collaboration between Farming for a Better Climate and Farming and Water Scotland, are taking a ‘before and after’ look at how to protect and improve farm soils and make best use of both organic and inorganic fertilisers, saving money, benefitting yields and improving farm efficiency and resilience.

Farmers participating in the Soil and Nutrient Network identified five steps to improve farm soils and nutrient use that all farmers could benefit from:

  1. Know your soils. Poor soil structure can go unseen and lead to a host of problems. Dig a soil pit and assess your soil structure.
  2. Establish and correct soil pH. Below target pH makes it harder for crops to access nutrients in the soil. Soil testing and using precision farming techniques could help to even out pH across farm fields.
  3. Establish soil nutrient status. Soil testing is key; without knowing current nutrient status you can’t accurately plan future applications. You may already be at high status for P and K, therefore may not need to apply these nutrients to all fields next year.
  4. Establish nutrients in slurry and manures. Slurry sample at time of spreading and factor this in to your nutrient budget. Making use of the nutrients in slurry and FYM could reduce your fertiliser bill.
  5. 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 work out a nutrient budget for your farm.

Even technically efficient farms can find small changes to current soil and nutrient management practices that could make a big difference.

Host farms in this round of the Soil and Nutrient Network so far:

Previous Soil and Nutrient Network farms:

Improved soil and nutrient use could make your business more profitable, lower the farm carbon footprint and reduce diffuse pollution risks.

For more information: