New Northern Ireland Soil Testing Requirements Aims to Boost Farming Success with 5 Steps

New Northern Ireland Soil Testing Requirements Aims to Boost Farming Success with 5 Steps

What are the new soil testing requirements?

Northern Ireland farmers will soon have soil testing requirements on their land before using chemical phosphorus-rich manures and phosphorus fertilisers in 2020.

The new requirements for Northern Ireland farmers regarding soil testing before using chemical phosphorus-rich manures and phosphorus fertilisers involve the mandatory implementation of soil testing as a prerequisite for the application of these substances. Here are the key details:

  1. Mandatory Soil Testing: Farmers will be obligated to conduct soil testing on their land before applying chemical phosphorus-rich manures and phosphorus fertilisers. This testing is essential to assess the current nutrient levels in the soil.

  2. Phosphorus Management: The requirement is likely aimed at managing phosphorus levels in agricultural soils more effectively. Phosphorus is a crucial nutrient for plant growth, but excessive application can lead to environmental issues, such as water pollution.

  3. Environmental Protection: The implementation of soil testing is likely a measure to protect the environment and prevent nutrient runoff into water bodies. Excess phosphorus in water bodies can contribute to water pollution and the growth of harmful algal blooms.

  4. Precision Agriculture: Soil testing allows farmers to adopt precision agriculture practices by applying nutrients only where and when they are needed. This can lead to more efficient and sustainable farming practices.

  5. Regulatory Compliance: The new requirements likely align with regulations and guidelines established by agricultural and environmental authorities to ensure responsible land management.

Farmers in Northern Ireland will need to comply with these new soil testing requirements to continue using chemical phosphorus-rich manures and phosphorus fertilisers. It is important for them to work with local agricultural authorities to understand the specific regulations, testing procedures, and compliance timelines associated with these requirements.


Tractor applying fertiliser to field


When will these soil testing requirements be introduced?

This requirement will take effect from 1 January 2020 under the Nutrient Action Programme 2019-2022. Farmers receiving the Basic Payment Scheme must comply with soil testing requirements.

Regular soil testing is vital to ensure the correct fertiliser is used. Fertiliser costs represent good value for money when used correctly. However, fertiliser application rates that are either too low, or too high will yield lower returns on the investment made (Agriland).

soil testing requirements

When is the best time to take soil samples to follow the soil testing requirements?

The optimal period for conducting soil sampling is typically during the autumn through to mid-winter, spanning from October to February. This timeframe is considered ideal for several reasons:

  1. Stable Soil Conditions: During the autumn and winter months, soil conditions tend to be more stable. The soil is less likely to be affected by recent applications of organic manure, lime, or bagged fertilisers, as these inputs can influence soil nutrient levels and pH. By waiting for three months after such applications, you allow the soil to reach a more consistent state, providing a more accurate representation of its nutrient status.

  2. Reduced Plant Growth: With most crops and vegetation entering dormancy or reduced growth phases in late autumn and winter, the soil is less active in terms of nutrient uptake. This makes it an opportune time to assess the existing nutrient levels without the interference of active plant nutrient uptake.

  3. Ease of Sampling: Soil sampling during cooler months often involves less challenging conditions, as the soil is less likely to be dry and compacted. This can make the sampling process more manageable and ensure a representative soil sample is obtained.

  4. Planning Ahead: Conducting soil sampling during the autumn and winter provides farmers and land managers with valuable information well ahead of the next growing season. This allows for informed decisions regarding nutrient management, soil amendments, and fertilisation practices, optimising crop or plant growth.

  5. Environmental Considerations: Taking soil samples during this period also aligns with environmental considerations. It helps prevent the risk of nutrient runoff and contamination of water bodies during the active growing season when nutrient application is more common.


How can we help?

Use our testing kit to follow the new 2o2o requirements. 

  • When taking a soil sample mix the cores well in a bucket before placing a representative sample in a bag.
  • Send to our laboratories for testing.
  • Receive a detailed report of the soil contents with expert advice on how to comply with the new soil testing requirements.

At Southern Scientific, we offer an extensive range of Agricultural Soil Suites to customers nationwide, including Northern Ireland.

link ->5 Powerful Factors Affecting Your Crop Yield That You Should Know

Contact us to arrange to test – We would be happy to discuss your soil testing requirements and any queries you may have.

laboratory 2815641 1280

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