Agronomy Advice
February 23, 2024

How to protect soil in wet weather

As farmers our soil is our most valuable asset. If we want future generations of our family to farm our lands we need to make sure that we look after it. But the need for high productivity, low costs and protecting the environment can be a hard balance to get right, especially when the weather is as wet as it’s been this winter

Farmer and Yara Agronomist soil sampling in a field

Avoid travelling on wet land

Looking after our soil health is sometimes about not doing something. It’s so tempting to travel on fields to get those jobs done, but the effects of soil compaction can be devastating. Independent trial results have shown that on badly compacted soils, you could see an accumulated yield loss of at least 3t/ha.

Once you are able to go on to fields, you can still look at ways to reduce the impact of a heavy slurry tanker by exploring umbilical spreading systems. These provide a continuous feed of slurry whilst reducing the impact of heavy machinery.

Increase organic matter to improve nutrient availability

Did you know that last year’s soil tests revealed that over 52% of soils tested had less than a 5% organic matter level? Why is this bad? Because lower organic matter means lower nutrient retention. To maximise the nutrients in the soil you need to increase the level of organic matter.

So spreading organic manures becomes a valuable activity which has a knock on positive impact - increasing organic matter improves nutrient retention, spreading organic manures will also spread essential nutrients which you can offset from any fertiliser investment. With improved levels of organic matter you’ll maximise the nutrient use efficiency of any fertiliser you subsequently spread.

Take a precise approach to slurry spreading

To improve the fertility of your soil; measure and test, developing nutrient maps so that you know which fields are low in which nutrients. Take slurry tests so you know exactly what nutrients you have on farm to be able to deal with any imbalances of nutrients. Knowing what nutrients you’re spreading on your field will allow you to make better fertiliser choices, making all your resources work as hard as they can. 

Choose your timing carefully 

Trials have shown that spreading slurry in the spring compared to the summer increases the nitrogen availability from 30% to 40%, which increases the available nitrogen by 0.26 kg per cubic metre or 2.3 units per 1,000 gallons.

Now more than ever we need to be making use of every advancement in research and technological development. If there’s a more efficient and precise way of doing things, that’s what we need to be doing. It’s this commitment to achieving marginal gains that will keep us going.

Feed your grass with Yara’s Booster range of fertilisers

  • Contains Selenium for healthier livestock 
  • Sodium enrichment encourages longer grazing times
  • Additional sulphur increases yield by 10-15% in first and second cut
  • True uniform fertiliser - every granule contains every nutrient 
  • No nutrient segregation - achieves an even spread