soil

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

Soil is an essential natural resource for all farmers. You can view a summary on the AHDB Knowledge Library from which much of the info in the soil topics on Farm-PEP has been taken.

There are lots of other resources and organisations that provide info and advice on soils including:

Tell us about any resources and initiatives that you find useful.

 

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Content below is from across the PEP community and is not necessarily endorsed by Stewards or by PEP

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Useful resources and fact sheets on soil quality from Australian perspective at www.soilquality.org.au

Lots of good resources, infographics and media at soillife.org

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The Farming and Land Use Team at the Soil Association have a specialist knowledge of all UK agricultural sectors as well as in depth understanding of organic and agroecological food production systems. Our goal is to support organic and non-organic farmers alike to transition towards more sustainable practices.

We help farmers improve their soil health by enabling them to benchmark their existing soil data.

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.

Tell us how you are improving your soils. Share useful resources, organisations and initiatives.

Soil health has been broken down into measurable parts to help farmers optimise crop and grassland productivity. As part of the Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership, a project in the AHDB & BBRO GREAT Soils programme, guidance and protocols have been issued to help practitioners benchmark their soils

The intricate web of relationships between physical, chemical and biological soil components underpins crop and livestock health and productivity.

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.

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for both plants and animals, playing a key role in energy transfer as a major component of ATP. It is also vital in DNA. For full capture & conversion of solar energy, crop canopies need 30-40 kg/ha P. Crop species redistribute most of this P (~85%; more than for any other nutrient) to their seeds during canopy senescence, where it is stored as phytate. Plants appear to do this because, until their roots proliferate, plant seedlings are highly sensitive to P shortages.

There is a lot of interest in soil carbon currently, due to the opportunity to store and sequester carbon in soil. It is also vital for soil health, forming part of soil organic matter.

Grass in farming is interconnected with livestock systems for their feed, in the form of grazing, haylage and silage, and is also used as 'leys' (short-term grasslands) to regenerate soil structure and quality.

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) is an established international membership organisation committed to the study of soil in its widest aspects. The society brings together those working within academia, practitioners implementing soil science in industry and all those working with, or with an interest in soils.

Helping you protect your soil and improve its productivity.  AHDB's GREATSoils inititiative brings together practical information on soil management as well as links to soils research and knowledge exchange. Whether you need an introduction to soil biology or a detailed guide to improving field drainage, AHDB has information and guidance to support you. 

The VESS is a semi-formal approach to assessing soil structure, first developed by SRUC.

The 18th Recycling of Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network (RAMIRAN) conference will be held in Cambridge, UK from 12–14 September 2023.  All sessions will be held in the heart of Cambridge at the Guildhalls and Corn Exchange.

As a specialist postgraduate university, Cranfield’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships are creating leaders in technology and management globally

The James Hutton Institute combines strengths in crops, soils and land use and environmental research, and makes a major contribution to the understanding of key global issues, such as food, energy and environmental security, and developing and promoting effective technological and management solutions to these.

Guidance from AHDB GREATSoils giving four easy-to-follow steps for assessing soil structure. 

AgriTech 4.0 focuses on supporting farms and farmers in providing them knowledge and assistance on the key aspects of the evolving technologies, processes, and practices being developed and used for sustainable farming.    

Scientific paper looking at the relationships between scientists and farmers:

This topic refers to the whole food supply chain, from farm fork, and all the products and services that contribute to food production.

We are a world-leading independent research organisation providing objective, expert geoscientific data, information and knowledge.

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

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.    

Enviresearch exists to provide the best regulatory and risk assessment service in Europe for the global chemical industry.

Physical and online conference at Harper Adams Soil & Water Management Centre on 7th December.

Calling all agronomists! Sign up for the last few places at Soil Benchmark's event at NIAB on 7th December - hear from Dr Elizabeth Stockdale and join some of the UK's leading agronomists in the discussion on Farm Data and the Future of Agronomy

Report from European Environment Agency giving over of the metrics, challenges and plans for measuring soil health across Europe.  

The 18th Recycling of Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network (RAMIRAN) conference was a resounding success. See selected resources from the conference below.

The 3rd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference to be held in Dublin (Ireland) in 2023 will expand on previous GSBI conferences and convene the world’s leading experts in this interdisciplinary field of soil biodiversity science to present and discuss recent advances addressing the urgency of meeting global challenges which link to human, animal and plant health and a more sustainable world.  

An ongoing Innovative Farmers field lab is looking into the impact of mob grazing on soil, biodiversity and animal health.

The new field lab with Innovative Farmers is investigating bale grazing, a common practice in North America and Canada, where bales are put out in summer to feed cattle through winter.

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

 

For a chance to win a free ticket to Groundswell 2023, please fill out the full survey here: 

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

Webinar hosted by GWCT with David Powlson - watch the video below.

Scientific paper in New Phytologist by scientists at China Agriculture University and James H

Useful practical resource about soils and erosion.

Guide from FIBL and Organic Research Centre giving the fundamentals of soil fertility.

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.

We aim to provide sugar beet growers and wider industry with the resources required to grow a healthy and profitable sugar beet crop in the UK.

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

Good soil management is essential to maintain a wide range of ecosystem services, including sustainable food production, water regulation and carbon storage, and to minimise diffuse pollution of the air and water environments.

Farmer Innovation Group as part of YEN Yield Testing project on achieving Deeper Rooting. Encouragement of deep burrowing earthworms might enhance yields by enabling deeper rooting, and capture of more sub-soil water.

Routine topsoil samples should be taken from all fields for analysis of pH, P, K and Mg every 3-5 years. Accurate information on soil nutrient Indices and soil pH is essential for nutrient management planning. Various approaches and services are now available for in field mapping of soil nutrient availability. 

Environment Digest is a quarterly publication that provides a synopsis of recent news, reports and other materials that are of interest to the farming community. With a particular focus on how agriculture links with the environment, each issue focusses on articles across sustainable food production, climate change, water and waste management, soils and biodiversity. Environment Digest principally focuses on stories and policy changes that are relevant to England and/or the UK with a slant towards the arable sector.

This Topic doesn't yet have a Stewarded summary, but connected groups, content and organisations show below. Click the 'Ask to Join' button if you would like to be a Steward for this Topic and provide a summary of current knowledge and recommend useful resources, organisations, networks and projects. "Like" this Topic if you would like to see it prioritised for providing a wikipedia style summary.

The FarmSmarter app is an agri-tech decision making service aimed at smallholder farmers.  Our primary focus is to support smallholder farmers in achieving sustainable profitable production developing regions. We are extending our development to cover sustainable farming practices and improvement of biodiversity and soil health in the UK and Europe for future additions to the FarmSmarter digital toolkit.

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

Warwick Crop Centre is a national centre of excellence for research on fresh produce. We provide post-graduate training and specialise in research projects promoting sustainable agriculture, horticulture and food security.

This report by the German Environment Agency examines the mitigation potential of climate friendly soil management practices at global, EU and German level, along with key management measures, their co-benefits and trade-offs, and implementation challenges.

A joint AFCP and NIAB event exploring what research is needed by farmers and stakeholders.  Hear from researchers looking at cover crops for soil structure and health; fungus and plant nutrient exchange; alleviating subsoil compaction; and more.

We are pleased to announce that the next British Society of Soil Science Annual Conference will be a joint event with the Soil Science Society of Ireland and take place in Belfast on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 December 2023.

6 October 2023: AFBI Soils Conference - La Mon Hotel and Country Club, Belfast

Nitrogen residue following different crops is an important consideration in the N fertiliser requirement of the subsequent crop and one of the key determinants of N fertiliser recommendations in the UK. 

Soil Fungal Communities Project to establish the level of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in arable soils across a range of locations, soil types and management systems.

The agricultural industry is heading toward a more sustainable, profitable, and efficient future. Future Farming Expo will bring together forward-thinking Scottish farmers, advisors, and rural businesses over two days for knowledge hubs, discussion, and networking across a busy exhibition hall.

In Devon, a group of six farmers and Rothamsted’s North Wyke research farm have teamed up through Innovative Farmers to form the Devon Silvopasture Network.

Cover crop establishment is affected by several factors, including species, soil type, weather and the rotation. Time of sowing, seed rates and establishment methods all need to be considered.

Counting earthworms is a simple method for assessing soil biological health

Certain crops (potatoes, sugar beet, maize, field vegetables) within a wider arable rotation pose increased risk of soil loss or degradation. Often described as ‘risky’ these crops may require additional management to ensure that field conditions are favourable and that there is no long-term disruption to soil functionality or structure.

Soil is the basis of every grassland system and aiming to constantly improve soil health will pay dividends in grassland productivity.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and crops can work together for mutual gain. A new PhD studentship report examines how these crop-friendly fungi can be nurtured by management.

New study suggests “techno-grazing” approaches can support more cattle in less space without adversely affecting soil structure and function

Increasing the amount of C stored in soil is beneficial from a climate change mitigation perspective.

Allerton Project research suggests that there are steps that can be taken to reduce runoff and impacts on water quality.

Executive summary for policymakers and researchers

Learn about the benefits of livestock in the arable rotation. See our information on forage crops, cover crops, outdoor pigs, farmyard manure and more.

Join this online broadcast with Sean Cameron to learn about soil preservation techniques, carbon capture in agriculture, leadership and more.

The Mitigation Options for Phosphorus and Sediment projects (MOPS) aims to determine the effectiveness of different treatments for controlling diffuse pollution from agriculure.

Understanding the factors that impact nutrient use efficiency (NUE) is key to improving nutrient management planning.

Soilscapes is a 1:250,000 scale, simplified soils dataset covering England and Wales.

Improving soils by building soil organic matter is a win, win situation for everyone.

Cover crops are usually planted within arable rotations between cash crops. They provide a multitude of benefits including building soil fertility, improving soil health and enhancing above and below ground biodiversity.  They provide a multitude of benefits including building soil fertility, improving soil health and enhancing above and below ground biodiversity.  

Vining peas are vulnerable to poor soil conditions and soil borne pathogens. Cover crops can be used to improve soil structure and health.

Among legume crops, forage peas and field beans show the most symptoms of legume fatigue.

There is no shortage of information available on cover crops. However, successfully integrating cover crops into arable rotations, while understanding and navigating the positive and negative impacts can be difficult.

Interested in learning more about home grown protein crops but don’t know where to look?

Join us for a morning tour and chat with Nuffield Scholar Toby, as we explore the benefits of cover cropping for climate-friendly farming.

Grass grown for silage has different needs to grass grown solely for grazing.

SCI invites you to join leading experts and change-makers to explore the potential of regenerative agriculture, a revolutionary approach to farming that goes beyond sustainability.

The condition of soil on livestock farms directly influences the yield and quality of grass and forage crops, animal performance and profitability.

Soil organic matter (SOM) serves as an important indicator of soil health.

This report reviews the economic benefits that can be achieved from reduced tillage.

Six Simple Steps for your soil to help improve the performance, health and long-term sustainability of your land

Applying soil health principles at scale is a challenge, with many farmers looking to stop ploughing but still relying on chemical weed killers and those unwilling to use chemical weed killers still relying on ploughing.

Every farm and field is different, with a wide interplay of different factors impacting on optimum soil management between them.

A practical guide to soil and system improvement

Shaping our relationship to the soil.

Perform a visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS) with this guidance.

Cover crops and green manures have multiple positive effects on the soil health. But like all methods, this best practice has also some disadvantages.

Root crops present a particular challenge to farmers who are trying to adopt regenerative practices. 

Adding organic materials can potentially lead to better drainage, more resilient soil, more efficient irrigation, higher crop yields and better crop quality.

Soil carbon is a component of soil organic matter which derives from the deposition and incorporation of leaf litter, crop residues, plant material, dead roots and animal wastes. Approximately 58% of soil organic matter is carbon.

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) is delighted to announce the next Zoom into Soil webinar will take place on Wednesday 7 February from 12:00 - 1:00pm (UK time) and is free of charge to register.

Earthworms are an excellent indicator of soil health given their many crucial roles and sensitivity to issues such as low pH, compaction, water logging and intensive cultivations.

Tips and ideas in this brochure can help you to protect and improve farm soils which could also make your farm business more profitable.

A mixed farming system, based around livestock and cropping, is a fundamental part of organic, agroecological and regenerative farming.

This webinar will be comprised of three presentations. Matteo Poggia, Agrocares, Netherlands will describe Practical application of fusing spectroscopic techniques in routine soil analysis: Lab-in-a-Box (LiaB) concept. This will be followed by Prof. Uri Yermiyahu, Volcani Institute, Israel and  Sanjay Namdev Biradar, ICL Fertilisers India who will present the science and operational experiences of the ICLeaf crop leaf scanning technology.

The UKSO map viewer is easy to use and has some of the most accurate and comprehensive available to view and use for free!

Join this webinar to hear from monitor farmer David Cross and independent consultant Dr Liz Genever as we discuss soil health and other updates from the Monitor Farm.

This Best4Soil video provides an introduction to the topic of soil organic matter, benefits and how to protect and increase soil organic matter on your field. At the end of the video, you will find additional information on these topics.

Infiltration is the process of water entry to the soil.

Discover how, why, and when field drainage is important, as well as best practice for installation, maintenance and repairs.

This OGA webinar will give an overview of mechanised tillage, from bed preparation to weed control, looking at cultivation tools and their use in various contexts.

Join us as we take a deep dive into the world beneath our feet, from the micro to the macro biology of soils. 

The objective of this farmer-led research trial was to investigate a new approach to winter feed provision for livestock that considers the overall health of the farm system, including soil health, biodiversity, animal welfare, farmer welfare and economic sustainability.

With soil cultivation expert Philip Wright Join ADAS as we discuss how to maintain good soil structure and best cultivation practices.

Ever wondered which regenerative arable farming practices are the most effective or which combinations work best together?

This RASE Infographic describes how you can effectively manage soils to decarbonise and improve biodiversity on your farm. 

In this Field Lab two farmers in Scotland have teamed up with soil expert, Audrey Litterick, Earthcare Technical, to see if there are practical benefits to using bokashi – treating manure with microorganisms that break down animal bedding and dung – over a 3-year period.  

Silvoarable systems are farming systems that integrate trees with arable cropping. 

Precision approaches and technologies will play a key role in successful, economically viable and

From Crop Action Feb 2022: Sulphur is an essential plant nutrient and

A major reason for the predominant failure of translational research from laboratory to field is

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