How Do I Make More of My Fertiliser - Part 1 Analysis

With fertiliser prices continuing to rise daily, it has begun to sharpen the mind of many as how to make the best use of the fertiliser available to you.

There is no single answer, and none of the following suggestions below are right or wrong but just focusing on Analysis and testing of different resources.

Test your soils:
Make sure your soil samples are up to date.  With a standard soil sample costing around £20/sample (or £1/acre for a 20 acre field) you’ll be able to tell the pH, P, K & Mg status of your soil.  Then you can effectively target your requirements.  To maximise grass growth pH should be 6.3- 6.5. Adding lime to achieve this if your soils are too acidic, is one of the quickest returns on investments that can be made. P & K Indices need to be a minimum of 2 and preferably Index 3.  As well as testing for these you can also test in the spring to see the mineral nitrogen content of your soil, for approximately an extra £26/sample, and this will allow you to make better use of any residual nitrogen in the soil.

Tissue Analysis:
To do this you need to take a tissue sample of your grassland in the spring, just as the grass is starting to grow.  With this test you can see if there are any micro-nutrients missing that with application could improve your fertiliser efficiency.

Test your slurry/FYM:
Like everything, if you don’t measure it, you can’t quantify it.  Do you know the nutrient levels in your slurry/FYM?  For not much cost you can test your slurry to see what nutrients you have available, and they can vary!  For example, a report from NRM Laboratories, for slurry samples taken over several years, shows that the nitrogen value in cattle FYM can vary form 1.34kgN/t to 32.60kgN/t.  Quite a difference!

For more information to look at reducing N use without reducing output, then please call FAR registered Dairy Nutritionist & CowSignals® Master Andrew Jones on 07717 44288 or email