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

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

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.

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 principles of field drainage are set out in the AHDB's Field Drainage Guide.

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

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

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.

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.    

Useful practical resource about soils and erosion.

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 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.   View more from AHDB GREAT Soils. Share resources you find helpful below.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

Mapping soil nutrient variability 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. Traditional soil sampling where a single composite soil sample is collected from a field (usually a composite sample of 25 cores taken from a ‘W’ across the field) will provide an average soil pH and nutrient indices for the field. This is the cheapest soil sampling option, however it can potentially conceal significant variation in soil pH and nutrient indices.  Soil sampling from a number of points within a field can provide information on spatial variability in soil pH and nutrient content and can be used as a basis to produce soil pH and nutrient maps. There are two main approaches to precision soil sampling: i.    Grid or regular sampling uses a regular sampling strategy such as sampling on a 100m grid or dividing the field into 1 ha polygons and sampling the centre point of each polygon. The location of each sampling point is GPS logged and this information is used to create a contoured map of soil pH and nutrients using a method of data interpolation to estimate values between the measured points. ii.    Zone based or ‘targeted’ soil sampling uses existing knowledge of within field soil variability to direct where samples are taken. Soil zones can be based on measured soil and/or crop variability for example using soil EC maps, soil brightness maps, yield maps or any other source of information on within field variability. Once the zones are defined each is sampled separately.  This type of more detailed soil sampling is of most value in variable fields where it identifies lower soil index areas which would otherwise have been under fertilised or under limed. For arable crops the target soil Indices are pH 6.5, P Index 2 and K Index 2-. Where soil pH or nutrient levels vary above these target levels, this variation should not be expected to affect crop yields, however variable rate fertiliser application may still offer cost savings from not over applying to higher Index areas.  

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

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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

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