Soil Testing under the Fifth Nitrates Action Programme

Soil Tests


A soil test refers to the results of an analysis of a soil sample carried out by a soil-testing laboratory that meets the requirements of DAFM for this purpose.

The analysis of phosphorus, specifically the Morgan extractable P test, is currently used to determine the Soil P Index.

A review of the soil test methodology for phosphorus availability will be undertaken however guidance is required on the best approach to consider to ensure phosphorus availability is evaluated correctly.

From 11th March 2022, all farmers above 170 kg N/ha must take soil samples. Where soil samples are not undertaken, Index 4 for Phosphorus will be assumed.

From 1st January 2023, all farmers above 130 kg N/ha must take soil samples. Where soil samples are not undertaken, Index 4 for Phosphorus will be assumed.

All arable land sown from 1st January 2023 must take soil samples.

Stakeholder Consultation for interim Irish FSC Standard

The consultation period was extended from Dec 10th to January 10th, so has just officially closed

See link below for a copy of the international Standard that is being adapting for Ireland

The document under development will be how forestry is assessed in Ireland for the next 5-10 years until the Standard is next updated.

There are a number of water quality requirements in the FSC Standard

The most relevant parts of the Standard for water quality: are all of the Indicators in Criteria 6.7, 7.3, 7.4, 8.2, 9.1, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.10, and the requirements of Annexes E, F & G.

Relevant legislation is included in Annex A (attached)

Annex J (attached) is a framework for identifying & protecting Ireland’s High Conservation Values.

Specifically HCV 4 & HCV 5 are to ensure concerns for water quality and watershed soil protection are adequately covered.

There is also a requirement for stakeholder involvement in forest management: Principle 4 (all of it), 5.3, 7.6.

FSC Interim National Standard for Ireland Forest Management Certification (stakeholder consultation)

AIE

The current FSC Standard used for forest management evaluations in Ireland was developed in 2012.

Since then, the FSC Principles & Criteria have been revised, and so each country must now update their national Standards.


As there is currently no formally constituted, registered Irish FSC Standard Development Group, we will follow FSC Procedure 60-007 Structure, Content & Development of Interim National Standards (v1-2), which provides the full set of International Generic Indicators (IGIs) and Annexes as the starting point for local adaptation.

The IGIs can either be adopted as they are, or adapted with local specifications and thresholds.

AIE response includes a handy checklist of the Irish Laws and International Agreements and Protocols Pertinent to Forest Management in Ireland

Danú Farming Group – Project Plan for a Biological Farming Transition Programme

Total budget: 400,000

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2018
End date2023

This project aims to educate farmers on how to implement the principles; practices of biological farming by developing conventional to biological farming transition programme systems.

To achieve this, the project will pursue the following objectives: (i) Identify weaknesses in existing soil, crop; pasture management systems; (ii) Develop guidelines for successful transitions to biological farming based on a sound understanding of soil structure, chemistry, biology and plant nutrition; (iii) Develop; maintain high levels of soil biological function to facilitate nutrient dense food, feed; forages production; an increase in soil organic matter; carbon sequestration potential.

This project aims to educate farmers on how to implement the principles; practices of biological farming by developing conventional to biological farming transition programme systems.

To achieve this, the project will pursue the following objectives: (i) Identify weaknesses in existing soil, crop; pasture management systems; (ii) Develop guidelines for successful transitions to biological farming based on a sound understanding of soil structure, chemistry, biology and plant nutrition; (iii) Develop; maintain high levels of soil biological function to facilitate nutrient dense food, feed; forages production; an increase in soil organic matter; carbon sequestration potential.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to soil, crop and pasture management that accounts for the agronomic, environmental, nutritional, physical, chemical and biological components of what constitutes a healthy soil. It combines the best practices of conventional and organic farming with an emphasis on developing productive soils that display high levels of biological activity. The principles of biological farming are increasingly being adopted in many countries worldwide as evidence grows that its practices can lead to the production of nutrient-dense food, feed and forages in addition to minimising plant diseases with minimal or no herbicide and pesticide usage. The unsustainable nature of conventional high output tillage and pasture production systems currently in operation in Ireland has led to a greater interest in, and openness to more sustainable farming practices, such as biological farming.

The expected results and practical recommendations from the project are as follows:

Farmers learn and implement the basic principles of biological farming.

Develop transition programmes that can be adopted by any interested farmer.

Assessment of the financial cost and benefits of transition to biological farming programmes.

Contact person: David Wallace

Address: Derrycouch, Stillbrook, Mountrath, Co Laois

Phone: 00353 83 1208858