Soil testing scheme aims to improve yield

A free soil testing scheme which reduces farmers’ costs as well as benefiting the environment is being rolled out across North Wales this autumn by Environment Agency Wales.

The simple test evaluates the pH level and the amount of nutrients already in the soil — measurements which indicate the quality of the soil and help work out the amount and type of fertiliser needs.

“Using less fertiliser or slurry can significantly reduce costs to farmers while allowing them to produce more crops. This also encourages livestock to gain weight,” says the agency.

The scheme, now in its third successive year, is being backed by both of Welsh farming unions.

A survey of farmers in North Wales who took part in the scheme last year found that more than three-quarters — 77 per cent — will save money by changing the type of fertiliser they use.

Some seven out of 10 — 71 per cent – of farmers applied lime to their land to correct soil acidity, almost two-thirds — 64 per cent — used less phosphate fertiliser, reducing the risk of pollution, and more than two-fifths — 44 per cent — replaced their artificial fertiliser with slurry, reducing their costs as a result.

The soil testing scheme is aimed at landowners with farms located next to rivers where the quality of the water is reduced. This could be due to nutrients from fertiliser being washed from agricultural land into the water.

This year’s scheme runs from October 1 until December 31. Details on 01248 484173.

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