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Banffshire Soil & Nutrient Network – Save money with effective nutrient budgeting – event summary

19 February 2019

This was the second meeting of the Banffshire Soil & Nutrient Network and the focus was to look at the value of nutrients supplied from various different sources.

Most livestock farmers have a readily available fertiliser already produced on farm with no purchase price – however, the true value of home-produced manure and fertiliser is often overlooked.  At this meeting, we looked at the benefits of ‘knowing what you’ve got’ by sampling slurry and manures prior to use so that their nutrient values can be accurately accounted for in a farm nutrient budget.  Any imported composts or digestates should also have their nutrient values tested too.

Having a dynamic farm nutrient budget is of most use when regularly referred to and updated.  Knowing crop requirements during the growing season will allow for effective nutrient application.  Targeting the use of slurries and manures to co-incide with these growth requirements can help reduce the farm’s reliance on bought in fertilisers, helping to increase profitability whilst also reducing the carbon footprint.  It can also prevent over applying nutrients which might otherwise be wasted – a loss of resources and money, but also a diffuse pollution risk to the environment.Chart showing the availability of different soil nutrients at varying pH

Whilst having all the calculations and application timings worked out, key to optimum growth from any nutrient input will be the soil pH status.  Plants cannot fully access the nutrients within the soil or applied if the pH is not optimal (as highlighted on the graph).

Having applied the nutrients to a growing crop, for planning later in the year, the levels of crop offtake need to be taken into consideration also.  This can help identify nutrient offtake which can sometimes be overlooked when calculating nutrient requirements of the next crop in the rotation.

Further information can be found in the list of downloads at the bottom of this page.


Related Downloads
Practical Guide – Optimising Organic Nitrogen
This Practical Guide concentrates on how you can manage organic nitrogen to benefit the business and help reduce GHG emissions.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils and Water Management
Farming For A Better Climate: Practical Guide – Improving Soil Quality
This Practical Guide concentrates on how we can improve soil quality to help us to adapt to climate change.
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Practical Guide: Nutrient budgeting I – The Benefits to your Business
This practical guide looks at the benefits of creating and using a nutrient budget for your farm business.
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Practical Guide: Nutrient Budgeting II – Getting Started
This practical guide looks at what factors you need to consider when making a nutrient budget for your farm, fertiliser recommendations and how to get the most out of your nutrient budget.
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Technical Note (TN656): Soils Information, Texture and Liming
This technical note offers information on soil, including classification, texture, PLANET Scotland and lime recommendations.
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Technical Note (TN699): Agricultural use of Biosolids, Composts, Anaerobic Digestates and other Industrial Organic Fertilisers
Organic fertilisers such as biosolids, composts, anaerobic digestates and industrial wastes can be useful and cost-effective crop nutrient sources that can improve soil quality. This technical note outlines their use in agriculture.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils and Water Management
Farmer’s guide to sourcing and using digestate and compost
Thinking of using digestate or compost? This guide from Zero Waste Scotland in association with NFUS can help you choose the right product. The guidance gives you key questions to ask to support you through the process of sourcing and using compost and digestate to help make sure the materials will meet your requirements.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils and Water Management
muck spreader in action in grassland field with trees in the background

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