soil

The intricate web of relationships between physical, chemical and biological soil components underpins crop and livestock health and productivity. Protecting soil health is also critical to environmental sustainability, as soils:

• Exchange gases, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, with the atmosphere

• Regulate the flow of water and rainfall in the water cycle

• Provide nutrients for plant growth, by breaking down organic matter and altering chemical fertilisers

• Transform and store organic materials, as part of the terrestrial carbon cycle

• Degrade contaminants applied through human activities or left by floods and aerial deposition

A healthy soil is able to sustain, in the long term, these important functions. In a healthy soil, the interactions between chemistry (pH, nutrients and contaminants), physics (soil structure and water balance) and biology (including earthworms, microbes and plant roots) are optimised for the conditions in that place.

 

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Field drainage is installed to rapidly remove excess soil water to reduce or eliminate waterlogging and return soils to their natural field capacity. Drains can be used to control a water table or to facilitate the removal of excess water held in the upper horizons of the soil.

The standard way to measure and monitor soils has been through soils samples taken to 15-30cm in representative W patterns. A range of technologies are now available commercially and in development to provide higher resolution data across a wider range of metrics. This page provides a space to share and discuss the available and coming tools, services and technologies.

Soil is an essential natural resource for all farmers. Over recent years many initiatives have sought to provide information and advice on soils and Soil Health, notably AHDB Great Soils. 

Anglian Water is the largest water and water recycling company in England and Wales by geographic area. We supply water and water recycling services to almost seven million people in the East of England and Hartlepool.     

In 2021 Defra commissioned an ADAS led consortium to look at the environmental and productivity benefits of mob grazing systems in the UK. 

Industry Leading Agronomists.  With many farming clients, representing over one million hectares, Hutchinsons are a leading agricultural and horticultural input advice and supply company.

Soil Benchmark hosted a workshop at the World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow August 2022 to

Good soil structure is vital for optimising water and nutrient use efficiency; and for sustaining profitable cropping systems. Poor soil structure and compaction can reduce yields, restrict access for field operations, increase fuel use and, for high value root and vegetable crops, increase reliance on irrigation. Where there are clear signs of soil compaction, cultivations to remove the compaction may result in a yield benefit. Visual soil assessment is important to assess the extent and depth of compaction and to inform decisions on the most appropriate course of action.  

Earthworms are known as ecosystem engineers due to their ability to structurally, chemically and biologically transform the soil environment in which they live.

Regenerative agriculture show and conference

GrassCheckGB is a grass monitoring project involving 50 dairy, beef and sheep farms.   Growth and quality data is published weekly throughout the growing season

Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.

The Claydon Opti-Till® System, is a holistic approach to crop establishment which delivers consistent, high yielding crops at low cost, providing maximum profitability. At the centre of Opti-Till® Seed Drilling System is the Claydon direct strip Hybrid drill, with its unique leading tine technology.

Practical sustainable farming regardless of labels.

ipaast-czo: Interoperable Precision Agricultural and Archaeological Sensing Technologies Remote and near-surface sensing technologies such as satellite imaging, UAV imaging, and geophysical survey are used in the practice of precision agriculture to support farmers and land managers to make data-driven management decisions. Archaeologists use many of these same sensing technologies to investigate the buried evidence for past human activities and make this evidence for the heritage of agricultural landscapes visible. Fundamentally, practitioners and researchers in both precision agriculture and archaeology are invested in developing a better understanding of soil conditions and their impacts on plant development by using advanced sensing technologies and related analytical methods. Consequently, there is a vast, untapped potential for sharing data and analytical approaches, enabling new research in both domains at an unprecedented scale and level of detail, leading to enhanced interpretations of the character of the agricultural landscape.    

Established in 1971, Cambridge based Delta-T Devices specialises in measurement sensors and monitoring systems for agriculture and horticulture.

Harnessing our collective strengths to bring about a step change in more sustainable soil health practices over the next decade

Today’s farmers keenly understand their roles as custodians of our farmed environment. Agriculture is a vital industry in East Anglia, but in the driest region in the UK water supplies are precious and needs safeguarding.  Anglian Water is working closely with farmers to ensure that we maintain healthy water quality as well as healthy crops and a healthy rural economy.

The VESS is an approach you can use to assess soil structure.   Developed by Aarhus and

Guide by Graham Shepherd (Landcare Research, New Zealand) giving an approach to assessing soil qu

The soil health scorecard brings together information about the chemical, physical and biological properties of soil. Watch Anne Bhogal give an overview of the research that has gone in to the Soil Health Scorecard.

Managing nutrients effectively is crucial for our soils, crops, livestock and environment. There are many resources and initiatives available to help. 

Funded by AHDB and BBRO, this five-year Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership is a cross-sector programme of research and knowledge exchange. The programme is designed to help farmers and growers maintain and improve the productivity of UK agricultural and horticultural systems, through better understanding of soil biology and soil health. See https://ahdb.org.uk/soil-biology-and-soil-health-partnership

In February 2018, ADAS, AHDB and Defra launched the Grass and herbal leys farm network. The network is a partnership between farmers, researchers and industry and provides a platform to investigate the long term impacts of leys in rotations, such as: Quantifying changes in soil organic matter and soil health from introducing temporary grass/herbal leys across a range of soil types and rainfall areas. Quantifying subsequent changes to soil organic matter and soil health following the destruction of the temporary grass/herbal leys and return to arable production. Investigating the effectiveness of grass/herbal leys in controlling blackgrass in ‘problem’ fields.

Organic materials, including livestock manures, biosolids, compost and digestate contain valuable plant nutrients which can save farmers money on their fertiliser bills, and organic matter which can help improve soil quality.

Cover crops are grown primarily to ‘protect or improve’ soils between periods of regular crop production. They can be effective at improving soil functions by increasing soil nutrient and water retention, improving soil structure/quality, reducing the risk of soil erosion, surface run-off and diffuse pollution by providing soil cover and by managing weeds or soil-borne pests.  

International Remote Conference. 9-10 February 2022, 10:00 (EET)

Share resources, groups and projects that you've found helpful for soil management.

Soil biology includes a variety of soil microbes, bacteria and larger fauna such as earthworms and collembolans.

H3

‘Healthy soil, Healthy food and Healthy people’

Healthy, well-managed soils are the foundation for productive farming systems. Taking steps to improve soil health is a vital part of future-proofing all farms against the challenges of climate change and changing government support, by supporting good yields and reducing environmental impacts.   Every farm and field is different and there is no single approach for creating healthy soils. These printable guides give targeted guidance for a range of farming systems. They have been developed by a wide-ranging partnership across the farming industry brought together by the UK Soil Health Initiative, the WWF-Tesco Partnership and CFE to help you to identify the actions you can take to better manage soils for a sustainable future. https://www.cfeonline.org.uk/environmental-management/soils/uk-soil-health-initiative-guides/

The Morley Agricultural Foundation is a charity that supports farming in the East of England by funding agricultural research, student studies, professional development of farmers and others and a variety of educational projects for school age children.

AHDB's GREAT Soils brings together all the work on Soils, to help farmers protect their soils and improve its productivity

Innovation for Agriculture (IfA) is an independent knowledge exchange charity that aims to bridge the gap between science and practice. 

Series of 20 videos from USA exploring Regenerative Agriculture and the "Future of Agriculture for Ecosystems and Human Health"

Soil is a major source of nutrients needed by plants for growth.

Interest is growing in using legumes like lucerne or clover as a permanent understory to cereal crops to provide nitrogen through the season.

With soil health promoted as being key to future agricultural policy (plus new measures of succes

A group of farmers in the Evenlode catchment is working working with Thames Water and Atkins Glob

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