Soil Analysis and Fertiliser Efficiency Ratings

Fertiliser Efficiency Ratings (FERs) and getting the most from fertilisers
FERs are similar to Building Energy Ratings or BERs.  BERs are a recognised measure of how efficient a building is from an energy point of view.  Buildings with a poor BER will require significantly more energy over any time period to heat and retain heat than a building with a good BER rating.  FERs in a similar fashion, illustrate how your individual fields score in terms of efficient fertiliser transfer to crop output versus fertiliser waste. 

Essentially good FERs will be achieved by having soils at the correct lime status.  This allows you to get the best use of organic manures and artificial NPK fertilisers.  As figures 1-3 illustrates, having soils at low pHs means reduced efficiency of the nutrients e.g. even at a reasonable pH of 6, any Phosphorus (P) applied will only give 52% of the potential response.  Therefore it would cost almost twice as much to supply the correct amount of P to a field with a pH of 6.0 versus a field with a pH of 6.5 (P applied at this pH will give 92% of the potential response).  This is a similar “waste” to the additional energy required to heat a poorly insulated house with a poor BER.

Soil Sampling
By taking soil samples correctly and getting a basic analysis done the FER status of your fields can be established and corrective action taken. Target pH for soils depend on the crop and local soils but are generally between 6.3 and 6.5.  The availability and decreasing cost of granulated lime makes improving soil pH of individual fields increasingly easy and more cost effective.  These products are much less bulky and can be spread using a conventional fertiliser spreader.

Remember soil analysis helps you target Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) applications to maximise your grass growth/crop yield and avoid wasteful losses to the environment. Talk to your Dairygold area manager today for technical assistance in understanding FERs and any decisions in relation to corrective actions, including granulated lime, required to improve your pH status on any field.

 

Contact Dairygold Laboratory on:

(022) 31580

feedlaboratory@dairygold.ie

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