What is the fertiliser value of straw?

Straw has significant fertiliser value in terms of P and K and will add that to soil organic matter helping to improve soil structure, according to Teagasc.

It says the decision to remove straw has to be weighed up as to the benefits of straw to the field versus its economic value.

This will reduce the P and K requirements of following crops. The value of straw below does not take into account extra chopping costs.

p and k values
Source: Teagasc

Trace elements benefits

Straw chopped and cultivated back into the soil will help return and reduce the decline of soil trace elements

Where it is chopped and incorporated it will become available for plant uptake over the following growing seasons. As an example, Teagasc says a 3t/ac spring barley straw crop will contain in the region of 225gMn, 9g Cu & 55g Cu.

Straw prices

With the harvest season in full swing, the seasonal straw market is beginning to take off with round bales selling from €10-15/bale.

Prices on Donedeal show it is generally cheapest in the East and South with bales in Cork and Wexford being offered at €10/bale.

Meanwhile, farmers in Connacht can expect to pay more for round bales, with one seller in Galway looking for €15/bale.

Sample prices 4×4 round bales

  • Westmeath – €10
  • Kilkenny – €13
  • Wexford – €10
  • Cork – €10
  • Tipperary – €11
  • Louth – €11
  • Galway – €15

Soil testing

Once cereal crops are harvested, Teagasc is advising farmers to plan to take soil samples to identify lime and fertiliser requirements for winter crops.

It says up-to-date soil test results will provide reliable information on the soils’ fertility status and help plan nutrient applications for the next three to five years.

Teagasc says previous soil analysis results shows that only 15% of soils tested are in the ideal index, i.e., Index 3 for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and pH 6.5 or greater.