The Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue T.D., today launched a major investment of €10 million in a pilot Soil Sampling and Analysis Programme. This substantial programme is aimed at putting soil carbon, soil health and fertility at the very centre of our future agricultural model.
Minister McConalogue said, “Our farmers know that a healthy soil is the basis for all farming be it livestock, tillage or horticulture. Detailed knowledge about soils on our farms will increase economic and environmental sustainability” adding “I am pleased to announce my Department’s support for the Pilot Soil Sampling and Analysis Programme to establish national baseline information on soils across Irish farms.”
Minister McConalogue highlighted that, “In addition to soil fertility and soil pathogen assessment, the programme will measure baseline soil carbon levels which will guide future actions to support carbon farming. It will also provide the basis for the next generation of soil-specific nutrient management advice and underpin targeted fertiliser and organic manure applications (right nutrient type, right application rate, right time & right place) across all farming systems in Ireland.”
Our soils will play and important role in meeting our water, air, climate and biodiversity targets of both the CAP and Green Deal. This sampling programme will provide the farmer with the critical information to make farm management decisions from improving nutrient use efficiency to soil carbon levels in our soils. Advisors will be up-skilled to assist farmers in translating the results of the programme into meaningful guidance for farmers. In this way, the pilot programme will realise the potential of managing soils on Irish farms.
Minister McConalogue emphasised that, “Soil health and nutrient management are high on my Departments priorities and feature strongly in commitments of the Programme for Government therefore this pilot programme is an important first step in delivering on these. It is also in line with my Department’s Action Plan 2021.”
Minister Pippa Hackett with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity also welcomed the pilot programme and stated, “Soil health is vital for our very existence, and the more we know about it, the better informed we are to make the decisions necessary to preserve and regenerate it. I’m delighted that my Department has initiated this programme which will increase farmers’ knowledge and awareness of their soils, and will enable them to take more targeted land management responses at farm level, and at the same time gather important baseline data. I am really looking forward to seeing the results, and how we can further develop the sampling programme to examine other aspects of soil health, such as soil biology, in the future.”
Minister Martin Heydon who has responsibility for Research and Development added, “This investment builds on our recent investment of €2 million in a National Soil carbon observatory, a significant research project to better understand carbon in our soils. These investments build our capacity to deliver an important climate contribution from the sector in the years ahead and I would encourage all farmers to avail of this initiative and work with their advisors to tailor their management practices in light of the important information these samples will deliver.”