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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. 

Plants need around 12 essential mineral nutrients to grow: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). Crop requirements differ hugely between elements, from 100s kg/ha of N & K, 10s kg/ha P, S, & Ca, 100s g/ha Fe, Mn, Zn & Cu, to 1s g/ha B & Mo.  Crops also differ inherently in these requirements due both to their genetics and their growing conditions.  Crops need these nutrients primarily to form and operate the photosynthetic tissues that convert solar energy and water into edible (or otherwise useful) energy.  Subsequently crops redistribute some nutrients from their leaves and stems to their generative organs, according to the nutritional requirements of crop re-establishment e.g. the nutrient needs of seedlings.  Depending on which crop components are harvested and removed, crop nutrients are either exported and used in feeds or foods, or are returned to the soil to form soil organic matter.   

Integrated Pest Management highlights the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms. IPM is one of the tools for low-pesticide-input pest management, and IPM must now be implemented by all professional agchem users.

The major commodity crops in the UK are wheat, barley, oilseed rape, field beans, sugar beet and potatoes, but around half of agricultural land grows grass.   

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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

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