A CONVERSATION with Alan Creighton, head of environment and nutrition at the Irish Equine Centre (IEC), always leaves me inspired. Grabbing a quick chat about sustainability and soil, Alan spoke with passion about the common problem that many horse owners make in terms of fertiliser: “Not enough people in the horse industry soil test, and it’s cheap as chips,” he extolled.

“For around €100 you can have four fields soil sampled. It’s so much cheaper than just presuming your fields need two bags per acre of 20 10 10 or whatever you’ve just always used.”

This writer can vouch for that. I soil tested 14 acres last year and the results came back to say nothing was required for optimum growth, they were in good shape and I spent zero and got top notch grazing.

Soil test results used to take as much as five weeks to come back but the ever forward-thinking IEC has partnered with Teagasc and have recently purchased an X-ray mineral analyser which can have your soil analyses back with you in just 48 hours.

As Creighton points out: “The horse industry is a reactive sector, there needs to be a speedy service so breeders and equine farmers can add fertiliser in a targeted ration when it’s needed.”

Bespoke targeted fertilising is much better for the environment, better for your grass and perhaps most pertinent in the current climate, a whole lot cheaper. It’s just a case of making soil analysis a regular part of your grassland management. Seems a no-brainer to me.