Farmers are being reminded that it is still not too late to take a soil sample on land that has not received an application of slurry or chemical phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) fertiliser in the past three months.

Soil samples can be taken using a soil sampler, which can be bought from most agri-stores or borrowed from your agri-advisor or a neighbouring farmer.

Anyone can take a soil sample from a field and the results will give farmers a clear indication as to what the field or paddock needs in order to improve soil fertility and hence, grass growth.

When soil sampling a field or paddock, the farmer should walk in a ‘W’ pattern, placing the soil core in the ground every 5-6m as they walk.

The aim, when soil sampling a field or paddock, is to get a sample that is reflective of the overall paddock. Areas such as around drinkers or troughs should be avoided when soil sampling, to improve the accuracy of the result.

Fields that have received slurry, or have received chemical P or K in the past three months should not be sampled. Also, fields that have received lime in the past two years can result in a distorted pH result.

A soil test will show farmers a paddock’s pH status and will also show if the field is low in P or K, or if it has a satisfactory P and K status and needs only a maintenance application.

Time can go by fast and some farmers are surprised when they realise how long it has been since some of their land was limed.

A common misconception on farms is that a blanket application of 2t/ac in the last few years means the soil is fine.

The reality is, where 2t/ac of lime was spread on land in the past five years, 6-8t/ac may have been needed in split applications over four to five years to correct soil pH.

The most lime that should be spread at any one time is 2t/ac and heavier applications can have a negative impact on soil structure.

There is no bad time to spread lime, however farmers should be cautious when spreading on silage ground before cutting.

Ideally, the best time to go in with lime is directly after a good graze-out or after cutting the field for silage.