Soil Sampling, The Foundation of Good Farming
15th November 2018

Pictured: David McClenaghan, Fane Valley Stores, Soil Sample Specialist.

Would you risk running an engine with low oil, low water or low quality diesel? In the short-term the engine will run, though not to its potential, long-term use will risk damage. Using this analogy, soil on your farm, can be thought about in a similar vein. However, instead of oil or diesel, soil needs Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Lime. Lime (PH) is like the oil in an engine without it, soil biochemistry grinds to a crawl and nutrient applications of slurry and fertiliser are not efficient.

While we all know the potential benefits of soil sampling, we also know how easy it is to put it off until another day. With the busy nature of farming and the long winter nights, getting time to take samples is almost impossible and it tends to slip down the to do list.

Here at Fane Valley, through our Agronomy and Forage team, we have years of experience taking soil samples. With a quad bike and automatic sampler, our sampling service takes the backache out of sampling and provides consistent samples, ensuring representative results for your farm. The soil sample result is only ever as good as the soil sample taken, and we pride ourselves on our ability to take timely, consistent and accurate samples within what is sometimes a challenging window of opportunity.

Each sample should be an individual field (10 acres max), and contain 20 individual cores to a depth of 10cm taken across the field in a random W pattern.

All we need to carry out your sampling is a farm map with the field name/number, and the current and future cropping history of the fields, our staff will do the rest.

It is important that samples are accurate, and the following parameters should be adhered to.
1. Only sample 2 years after bulk liming.
2. Allow at least 8 weeks between fertiliser applications (P & K).
3. Wait 8 weeks after slurry/manure application.
4. Failure to allow a sufficient gap after nutrient application can give results with higher PH, P and K figures than is actually the case.
Having the analysis is only the first part; the information needs to be read, understood and acted upon, in order to improve your soils fertility.

At Fane Valley, our Agronomy and Forage Specialists are BASIS and FACTS qualified and can provide crop specific advice and efficient fertiliser plans based around the soil analysis and crop requirements, on a field-by-field approach to help achieve maximum yields whether for grass or cropping.

From an agronomic and legislation basis, soil sampling should be, completed at least every 4 years, and represents a cost of less than £0.50 per acre per year for a standard soil sample. Payback in terms of efficiency and production is potentially huge, benefiting you, your farm and the environment.

For more information or to book your soil sampling contact the Agronomy and Forage office on 028 9261 0485 or your local Fane Valley Agronomy and Forage Specialist.