With autumn approaching and the peak grass growing season behind us, it is time to start planning ahead to ensure pastures perform to their maximum next year, according to Andrew Cook of Germinal Seeds.
Soil nutrient testing and checking for compaction that may be hampering sward productivity should be on the agenda, he said. “The early autumn is a good time to do soil sampling, to test for pH and also phosphate and potash levels. Anything less than a pH of 5.8, and soil indices of less than 2 for P and K, should ring alarm bells and prompt some action over the coming months.
“The optimum pH for plant growth and nutrient uptake is 6–6.5 and it typically requires about 5 tonnes/ha of lime to raise the pH by 0.4 units. It can, however, take up to a year for the full impact of liming to be seen, depending on soil types, so prompt action is very important.”
Dig a hole to a depth of around 40cm, he suggests. “Signs of waterlogging and compaction include a rusty or grey mottled colouration, a distinctive foul smell, poor root penetration or a lack of earthworms.”