Soil Sampling Procedure

1. For sampling purposes divide the farm into fields or areas of between 2 – 4ha.

2. Take separate samples from areas that differ in soil type, previous cropping history, slope, drainage or persistent poor yields.

3. Avoid any unusual spots such as old fences, ditches, drinking troughs, dung or urine patches or where organic manure or lime has been heaped or spilled in the past.

4. Do not sample a field for P and K until 3 - 6 months after last application of fertilizer P and K.  Where lime has been applied allow a time lag of 2 years before sampling for lime requirements.

5. Follow a ‘M’ soil sampling pattern to ensure that the sample is representative of the entire field.  Ensure that all soil cores are taken to the full 100mm depth.  Place the 20 cores in the sample bag to make up the soil sample.  Write the field name and sample number on the sample bag.


                                                         Recommended Soil Sampling Pattern


Phosphorus samples under the nitrates directive
Under the Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters Regulations 2006 (Nitrates Directive) soil samples for P shall be taken in accordance with the procedure specified above plus the specific requirements that:
1. The sampling area shall not exceed 4 hectares (exceptionally, where soil types and cropping of lands were similar during the previous five years, a sample area of up to 12 hectares shall be deemed acceptable). 

2. A field shall not be sampled for phosphorus until 3 months after the last application of any fertiliser containing this nutrient (chemical or organic).

Nitrates Derogation
All farmers who wish to avail of the nitrates derogation, to use more than 170kg Organic Nitrogen per hectare, will be required to conduct soil analysis for all the holding at least once every 4 years and at least one analysis per 5 hectares shall be required.  The above procedures should also be followed in these cases.


Soil Organic Matter (SOM) Analysis
In 2010, 50% of continuous tillage soils (≥6 years) farmed require an SOM analysis and the remaining 50% should be tested in 2011 under cross compliance. The threshold SOM is 3.4%. Where soils are above this no action is required; where soils are below 3.4% a cross compliance farm advisory system (CC–FAS) advisor needs to be contacted to inspect soils and prepare a remedial action report.  Once cereal crops are harvested, soils should be tested for soil organic matter and other nutrients where required. One sample must be taken every 4ha or where soil type and cropping history are similar the sample area can be increased to a maximum of 8ha.


Contact Dairygold Laboratory on:

(022) 31580

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