Advice for dairy farmers: Plan for environment friendly farming

A fertiliser and slurry plan for your entire farm is the first step in making the best use of nutrients on your farm.

October or November is the ideal time to start preparing a fertiliser plan.

Discuss your soil testing requirements with your advisor as soon as possible so that test results will be back in time for preparing fertiliser / slurry programme.

Nutrient Management Plans

A good fertiliser/slurry plan, when combined with a farmyard assessment and recommendations, forms a complete Nutrient Management Plan. These plans are part of efficient farming in harmony with the environment, and should be an important element of all Food Quality Assurance Schemes in the future.

It is easy to take short cuts when putting a Nutrient Management Plan in place but these short cuts could be very costly.

Plans should be simple and not very time consuming.

They should help farmers to save money and comply with all the Codes of Practice for EU supports.

Once a Nutrient Management Plan has been made out for a farm, it should need little adjustment for about five years.

This plan should involve using a map of your farm (such as the Area Aid map), showing where recent soil samples have been tested.

Any areas that haven’t been tested in the past few years can be identified and tested, so that an overall farm nutrient status can be established.

Testing different parts of your farm every few years is unsatisfactory, as it is unlikely to ever give you sufficient information for a complete fertiliser plan for your farm. Proper soil sampling is essential.

As this exercise is the basis of efficient and environmentally friendly farming in the future, you should make every effort to get it right.

Make sure the selection of your soil sampling areas is correct and well identified on the map.

Advisors can help you with these tasks and give you your recommendations in an informative and easy to follow format. If good records are kept, the plan will normally need little adjustment for five years.

Soil tests will not show how much nitrogen should be used. This will depend on farm output, crop history, soil type etc.


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