Welcome to the 2021 fertilisers Focus, which is put together by the Fertilizer Association of Ireland in association with the Irish Farmers Journal. This year’s supplement brings a number of informative articles to guide fertiliser use, from fertiliser choices to clover nitrogen (N) savings.

Fertiliser is a key input on Irish farms and when applied at the right rate at the correct time, it delivers a very good return on investment. Irish soils are very responsive to the application of fertilisers due to our damp climate.

Farmers continue to evolve and adopt new technologies on their farms to use applied N, P and K more efficiently, eg safer types of nitrogen fertilisers (protected urea) and low-emission slurry application techniques. Adoption of these technologies will significantly reduce N losses as either ammonia or nitrous oxide at least cost.

One of the largest challenges that we face now and in the years ahead will be climate change.

The effects of climate change are very real, especially with our changing weather patterns and its impacts on how we manage our farms. How we manage applied nitrogen will play a key role in slowing down future climate change.

Improving N efficiency starts with improving soil fertility.

Up-to-date soil analysis and preparation of a fertiliser plan will be the starting point to managing applied nutrients efficiently.

Correcting soil acidity and maintaining optimum soil pH will be the first step to improving soil N supply and increasing the efficiency of applied N in manures or fertilisers.

This year’s supplement provides guidance on many aspects of managing nutrients efficiently, from buffer margins to selecting the most suitable fertiliser types.

Jack Nolan from the Department of Agriculture gives an insight into future changes to fertiliser use under the Green Deal and Farm to Fork.

William Burchill discusses a number avenues to explore to improve N supply and efficiency on farms, while Donal Sheehan outlines how he is reducing N usage on his farm in Cork.