A €1.2bn bul­let for farm pro­duc­tiv­ity

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

IM­PROV­ING base nu­tri­ent lev­els in Ir­ish soils would in­crease dry mat­ter pro­duc­tion by up 3-4 tonnes/ha and boost to­tal farm out­put by the equiv­a­lent of more than €1.2bn an­nu­ally.

A three-tonne in­crease in dry mat­ter out­put would be worth around €300/ha for dry­s­tock farm­ers and over €550/ha for dairy farm­ers.

By av­er­ag­ing this level of im­prove­ment across the State’s four mil­lion hectares of graz­ing and tillage ground, the over­all lift in out­put would equate to over €1.2bn an­nu­ally.

Soil anal­y­sis in re­cent years has shown that over 80pc of Ir­ish farms are low in phos­pho­rous or potas­sium, or re­quire lime to bal­ance soil pH, Mark Plun­kett of Tea­gasc has pointed out

The Terra Soil study will quan­tify the level of nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency at a na­tional level for the first time, as well as iden­ti­fy­ing ar­eas which are low in par­tic­u­lar trace el­e­ments.

Over the last 40 years, the ap­pli­ca­tion of lime on Ir­ish farms has de­creased dra­mat­i­cally.

Ir­ish farm­ers ap­plied an av­er­age of 1.7 mil­lion tonnes of lime in the 1970s to con­trol soil acid­ity and im­prove the pro­duc­tiv­ity of grass­land and tillage ground.

How­ever, it is es­ti­mated that ap­pli­ca­tion lev­els have halved in last four decades, and be­tween two-thirds and half of all tillage and graz­ing ground is now be­lieved to be be­low the op­ti­mum pH level.

This pH prob­lem, along with low lev­els of potas­sium and phos­pho­rous, is viewed as a ma­jor lim­it­ing fac­tor to the pro­duc­tiv­ity of Ir­ish soils and is a se­ri­ous im­ped­i­ment to achiev­ing pro­duc­tion tar­gets for the in­dus­try.

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