GRASSLAND farmers have warned that increased rainfall and higher temperatures in Wales have implications for soil nutrients.

Between September to January, Met Office figures showed rainfall in Wales at 23 per cent above the norm. Despite this, soil temperatures are slightly above average.

This combination has implications for soil nutrition this spring – it’s vital to anticipate lower levels and adjust your strategy accordingly.

“Usually, we would expect some nitrate and sulphate to remain in the surface root zone,” says Philip Cosgrave, agronomist – grassland specialist at Yara. “However, we’ve seen a great deal more rain than usual in recent months, so very little of that is likely to remain.”

In a grass sward, 70-80 per cent of all root mass is in the top 7.5cm. Root mass drops considerably below 23cm.

As a result, rainfall can have a drastic effect on the nutrients available to the plant. Farmers are urged to test their soil and supplement with nutrients where needed.

“These are unusual soil conditions, meaning nitrogen by itself won’t be enough,” adds Philip.

“Fields that have endured particularly high rainfall will find reduced phosphorus availability, for example. This will increase the solubility of iron and aluminium in the soil, which in turn affects phosphorous availability.”

“Heavy rainfall – like we’ve had recently – makes it important to get out on the fields as soon as possible in order to promote strong grass growth.

"A growth response of over 20 per cent is likely with an early application of sulphur and phosphorus. Get your grass off to a strong start this year with a compound NPKS fertiliser. Don’t let the heavy rain mean a washout for your farm.”

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