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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carry out a nutrient budget. PLANET Scotland is free to use; email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about a free PLANET Scotland training course to work out a nutrient budget for your farm.
- Visit Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) to learn more about the Soil and Nutrient Network farms attend a Soil and Nutrient Network event near you.
- Download the CREW Valuing Your Soils brochure.
- Visit Farming for a Better Climate for other practical ideas to improve farm efficiency and benefit the business.