Nutrient management has long been a topic of discussion; relating to the amounts and types of nutrients that can be applied to fields. More recently, regulations have even been put in place to help limit the amount of unutilised material making its way into watercourses.
While limiting nutrient application is extremely beneficial environmentally, it potentially causes issues with agricultural and horticultural crops, with the limited availability of nutrients from the soil reserves resulting in nutrient deficiency.
In fact, applied chemical fertiliser usage in Northern Ireland has dropped by as much as 40% from the 1990s while yields have increased by over 20% in the same period. Higher yielding crops tend to extract more nutrients from the soil, yet we’re putting less fertiliser on them. Given that 50% of NI soils have a P index below the target of 2 and 60% have a K index below the target of 2-, special attention needs to be paid to our soils. Specifically, the soils’ pH levels – ensuring that our crops have the opportunity to extract the nutrients they need to grow a plentiful and healthy crop.
There are ways farmers can help counteract the required limit of nutrient application - ensuring the nutrients they can apply remain available to the crop for utilisation and are not locked into the soil by low pH values.
A soil with a pH of 6.0 is normally considered to be in good stead, but will still lock up 48% of applied phosphorus (P) and 11% of applied potassium (K). As soils drop down to a pH of 5.5, up to 25% of nitrogen (N), 52% of P and 25% of K are locked into the soil, meaning they are unavailable to the growing crop and resulting in nearly £90 per tonne of fertiliser becoming unavailable to the crop.
Use of G-Lime, a high quality granulated lime made from the finest quality calcium carbonate- is an ideal way to help farmers manage their soil pH, keeping those valuable nutrients available to the crop. By using soil testing services to determine the pH of each field, farmers can then target ideal pH (depending on the crop grown) using G-Lime to reach that
target. Once a field has reached the ideal pH, crops are then able to extract the required amount of nutrients to reach the highest yields and quality.
Once a field is at the desired pH, G-Lime makes it easy to maintain that pH with small dressings annually, often as little as 50kg/acre. By maintaining a pH at a desired level, farmers can get the most out of their fields each year. Farmers do not have to worry about the swings in quality and quantity usually associated with fields that are limed at infrequent intervals with coarse ground limestones.
G-Lime granulated lime is ultimately more cost effective as it begins to work in the soil immediately. When applied at recommended rates, G-Lime will give a full pH correction in 4-6 weeks, improving soil fertility whilst optimising crop and grass performance. It is quick, convenient and easy to apply with conventional fertiliser spreading equipment.