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Poor Soil Chemical Health Costs The Average Dairy Farmer €4000 Per Year!

Poor Soil Chemical Health Costs The Average Dairy Farmer €4000 Per Year!

Health at Farms Level:

Between 2015 to 2019 some gains were made in terms of soil chemical health, however between 2021 and 2023 Dairygold dairy suppliers farms are showing a combined 14% drop in soil chemical health.
The proportions of soils on target for pH has dropped from 53% to 39%, while the proportions of our soils in index 1 for P has increased from 4% to 20%, with the proportions of soils in index 1 for K increasing from 3% to 13%. All this is happening while our use of use of P and K fertilisers has dropped by c.40% since 2021.
Soil Chemical Health and Nitrogen Recovery:
Nitrogen recovery increase varies from 35% to 63% where soils have optimum fertility vs low pH, P & K.
*Grassland nitrogen use efficiency was calculated as the percentage of the applied fertiliser and manure N recovered by the grass sward across the 446 fields (grazing block) on which measurements were taken over 2 years on commercial Irish dairy farms.

How much is this reduced N recovery costing farmers?
Foregoing 56kg N/ha is costing farmers nearly €63/ha/ year in N loss alone or €25 per acre. For the average dairy farm in Ireland this equates to €4,076 per year.
This €4,076 per year would buy just enough 0-7-30 to raise every hectare on the average sized dairy farm by 1 index. Investing in soil fertility will pay itself off based on N recovery alone.

In Review

  • The % of soils in overall good chemical health has declined from 36% in 2022 to 24% in 2023 at a time when our P and K use is dropping
  • Nitrogen use efficiency is 28% higher for soils with good chemical health
  • You need to feed the soil with the right amount of P and K to maintain or improve your soil index

4-point plan to improve soil chemical health:

  1.  Take a soil sample every 5 ha
  2. Apply lime where needed to improve soil pH
  3. Use slurry on low P and K index soils
  4. Contact your Area Sales Manager to design an appropriate fertiliser plan for your farm.