Managing soil fertility

Soil Fertility Soil Structure Life Beneath

All crops need a good nutrient supply to grow and thrive. If any nutrients are in short supply, plant development will be compromised and performance disappointing.  A soil test can help decide whether any additional nutrients are required, allowing a more targeted approach to manure and fertiliser use, saving time and money.

Feeding grass and forage crops properly – with manufactured fertilisers or slurries and manures, can boost growth.

The starting place is to test the soil, although only around a third of beef and sheep farmers do so regularly. By measuring and then managing nutrients, producers can optimise their production, while reducing any potential negative impacts of any oversupply.  Minimising losses of nutrients, such as nitrates, nitrous oxide and phosphates through appropriate and accurate fertiliser applications, can create a win:win situation for producers and for the environment.

There are a range of excellent resources that have been developed to help farmers with nutrient management.


Tried & Tested 
A resource developed by the farming industry bringing together a set of resources online to improve nutrient management planning. It also empowers farmers with information that helps them to better understand the value they receive from experienced industry advisers.

The Better Returns programme manuals
Give useful background to help support better management of soil fertility in grassland systems.

Grass+ improvement programme
Provides information to help farmers integrate all available fertilisers into a cost-effective management programme, optimising pasture growth for when it's required.

The Fertiliser Manual
(RB209) which includes nitrogen recommendations and standard tables of nutrient contents of manures with information on sampling FYM and slurry.