Preparing a farm fertiliser plan through regular soil sampling is a key part of ensuring that fertiliser is being used to its maximum potential, according to the Fertiliser Association of Ireland (FAI).

In the second of its short video series based on the efficient use of fertiliser, the association focuses on using soil samples to form a farm fertiliser plan.

In the latest video, Teagasc research officer Dr. David Wall spoke to Wexford farmer Michael Doran as he was taking samples.

Asked why he does this, Doran said: “We soil sample here every one to three years to ensure that we’re maintaining optimum soil fertility. We’re trying to target Index 3 for P and K and a pH of about 6.5.

“We’re a grass farm; we’re trying to maximise the amount of grass we can grow and we need to have soil fertility at optimum nutrition to help us to do that.”

“It’s about trying to get every paddock to that optimum soil fertility of index 3,” the farmer said.

“When I’m soil testing, the most important thing is that I will give the person testing a map of the farm with all the paddocks numbered from one to 30. That corresponds to my paddock numbers on Pasturebase as well.

For me the three things that I’m going to look for are the soil pH, phosphorous and potassium readings for each paddock.

“That’s going to give me an indication then of how successful I’ve been in trying to increase the soil fertility where it needs to be increased and how we’re going to maintain it for the paddocks that are already at Index 3 to keep it there,” Doran added.

“It’s to give us an overview of where the farm is and what has happened in the last 12 months or 24 months since we soil sampled previously.”