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Farmer led phosphorus sampling

This page is no longer updated. The information presented here formed part of our previous areas of research. This has included research carried out on behalf of our research partners, commerical contracts and also the Scottish Goverment's Strategic research programme during the period 2011 - 2016.

Scottish Goverment LogoWe have left these pages here to provide background information on our previous areas of research. Further details on the RESAS strategic programme of research (2016-21) will be made available.

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Image showing tractor and trailer carrying out muck spreading
The James Hutton Institute is aiming to improve awareness of soil phosphorus to assist farmers and growers to best manage this valuable soil nutrient.

Why is phosphorus important?

Phosphorus is an essential plant fertiliser. However, phosphorus is an increasingly expensive commodity, which is mined from a few non-renewable reserves of rock phosphate globally. Certain soil types allow applied phosphorus to rapidly leave the root zone of crops, where it is then lost to drains and watercourses. In such situations phosphorus should be more carefully managed to increase its efficient usage and better target crop growth. Once phosphorus reaches watercourses it causes damaging effects such as algal blooms and toxic conditions for fish.

What are we trying to do?

The James Hutton Institute is aiming to improve awareness of soil phosphorus to assist farmers and growers to best manage this valuable soil nutrient. A crucial factor is the solubility and transport of applied phosphorus away from the soil that causes it to runoff into lakes, streams and rivers. Sampling water from field drains provides an integrated picture of losses of applied phosphorus through soils of different properties. We are therefore asking for help in sampling drain waters and a representative sample of topsoil from the drained field and have produced a sampling pack and simple guidance.

How will this knowledge help me?

Contributors will get a soil test phosphorus interpretive report for their individual sample. Knowledge of the relationship between phosphorus leaching and soil types will allow you to identify and act to reduce losses of valuable nutrients from fields, so that more is targeted to crop growth. Our goal is both to improve the scientific knowledge of the risks inherent with different soil types, but importantly to provide knowledge to the farmer or grower on the situation for the land they manage. Improving the use efficiency of phosphorus has both real business and environmental credence.

Will the information provided be treated confidentially?

Yes. Our interest is of the regional to national linkage between soils of different properties and the risk that phosphorus resource. Any information you provide will be kept confidential and used only to interpret the data on a regional not individual farm basis (apart from the report sent back to the contributors directly).


Further information is available in this leaflet or register online to receive a sampling pack.


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.