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Seeing is Believing! How pH & N:P:K Fertilisers impact on Crops & Livestock – Event Summary

19 July 2017

Getting the most from your farm starts by managing the soil and getting the basics right

This meeting was held at SRUC’s Woodlands Field, Craibstone.  Since 1922 a 6 year rotations trial investigating the long-term effects of 6 different fertiliser strategies has been running at A group of people (in the distance) walking through the trial plots at SRUC's Woodland's field trial site at CraibstoneWoodlands Field, and in 1961 pH trial plots were established (ranging from pH 4.5 to pH 7.5) within an eight course rotation. Both of these trials are extremely useful teaching resources as well as the source of scientific study in soil / plant interactions.

Those in attendance had the opportunity to see these long term pH and N:P:K fertiliser trials to reinforce the importance of growing crops at the optimum pH (pH 6.2) and the sensitivity of crops at other pH’s from pH4.5 – pH7.5.  The fertiliser trials also highlighted the importance that each major nutrient plays on the range of different cereal crops as well as potatoes and grass.

After the tour, a presentation backed up what was seen with data going back to when the trials started in the 1920’s and 1960’s.

David Ross highlighted the importance of visually assessing your soil structure, using the Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) handout.  Later in the day, David also showed the differences between various GPS soil sampling techniques, to raise awareness of the importance of how soils are analysed using GPS technology, and the range of services available.David Ross demonstrating a VESS assessment

Robin Walker highlighted take home messages, showing data that highlights the optimum pH for the range of crops grown, as well as yield results for the differing fertiliser trials. A good discussion occured at this point, utilising Alex Sinclairs depth of knowledge on the subject as well.

DownloaFarming For a Better Climate logod the information handouts & presentation slides that were available on the day from the links below.

Ensuring optimal soil structure and pH is critical to maximising production from any applied nutrients.  To find out more about how to improve your farm productivity whilst reducing your carbon footprint, visit the Farming For a Better Climate website.

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A group of people (in the distance) walking through the trial plots at SRUC's Woodland's field trial site at Craibstone

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