To make best use of nutrients and manures on the farm and reduce emissions.
Better targeting of fertilisers can cut waste and improve profits. For the majority, it will not be practical or economic to replace all fertilisers with manures, slurries, compost and digestates, but the aim should be to make maximum use of the manures and slurries that are available on the farm.
- Soil testing will help you to know the pH and nutrient status of farm soils, allowing you to adjust lime and fertiliser inputs as required
- Make sure you know the nutrient value of your manures, slurries, compost and digestates; use this first then top up with bought in fertilisers
- Apply fertilisers at optimum rates for the crop
- Improve the timing of nutrient applications to meet crop requirements
- Make sure that you separate slurry and fertiliser applications
- Include clover in grass rotations
- Choose plant varieties which use less nitrogen or fix nitrogen more efficiently
Each 10m³ tanker of dairy slurry could contain the equivalent of £30 to £50 worth of fertiliser. How you apply slurry makes a difference – applying slurry close to the growing crop with a trailing shoe or similar reduces nutrients lost to the atmosphere when compared to a splash plate application.
Below is a list of useful information that may be of interest if you are considering the use of digestate to help boost your farm soil fertility:
- FAS Technical Note TN:699 Agricultural use of biosolids, composts and anaerobic digestates and other industrial organic fertilisers.
- 'The Farmer’s guide to sourcing and using digestate and compost' is a useful booklet produced by Zero Waste Scotland and NFUS
- Digestate and compost use in agriculture - a good practice guide for agri-contractors
- The renewable fertiliser matrix (adopted by Red Tractor, QMS, SQC and others)
Digestates and composts could be a great addition to your business, but make sure you know what you are getting.
- Valuing Your Soils: Practical guidance for Scottish farmers (3.53 MB, PDF)
- Soil Organic Matter (2 MB, PDF)
- Alleviating soil compaction (680.82 KB, PDF)
- Establishing a grass clover sward (565.69 KB, PDF)
- Improving soil quality (699.59 KB, PDF)
- Cover crops (632.04 KB, PDF)
- Maximising performance of grass leys (493.41 KB, PDF)
- Nitrogen fixation (660.82 KB, PDF)
- Optimising inorganic nitrogen (445.94 KB, PDF)
- Optimising organic nitrogen (599.2 KB, PDF)
- Soil management (764.15 KB, PDF)
- Greenhouse gas emissions (2.54 MB, PDF)
- Managing soil Phosphorus (765KB, PDF)
- Nutrient Budgeting I (644 KB, PDF)
- Nutrient Budgeting II (503 KB, PDF)
- Soil Sampling I (437 KB, PDF)
- Soil Sampling II (555 KB, PDF)
- Working Towards Net Zero Emissions - Improving grass growth (1.13 MB, PDF)
Help and Advice
For further information and advice, take a look at our Practical Guides.
A free nutrient management programme tailored to Scottish Conditions is available through PLANET Scotland.
Advice on soils, fertilisers and manures is available through the FAS helpline (0300 323 0161) or at www.fas.scot/advice-and-grants.
For advice on making the best use of fertilisers, protecting soils and to see what other farmers have done, see our range of Practical Guides, Farmer Case Studies and notes from Climate Change Focus Farm meetings. Farming and Water Scotland and the FAS Soil & Nutrient Network can also provide useful information.