Soil health is in the spotlight right now, with better scientific understanding revealing the benefits of a vibrant, healthy soil, both to farm productivity and the wider environment. Active soil improvers can help to rapidly increase soil humus content, improving water retention and yields – and recent farm trials have proven the benefits.
Research at Litobratrice Farm and the Troubsko agricultural research institute in the Czech Republic showed that crops grown on soil treated with the humification activator Neosol saw a yield increase of between 18.7% and 23% across spring wheat, winter wheat and oilseed rape, compared to a control.
By improving the breakdown of organic matter, Neosol also increased water retention, helping to protect crops in times of drought. After three years, moisture was more evenly distributed throughout the soil profile, increasing water retention by 344,240 litres/ha compared to the control.
So how does it work? Neosol contains polysaccharides which feed the beneficial soil microflora – essential for healthy soil life. It also has Mineral Inducer Process (MIP) balanced trace elements to feed the enzymes that create microscopic fungi, which in turn transform organic matter into humus. Finally, it contains calcium, which neutralises soil pH and improves nutrient availability.
“Neosol provides a rich food source on which microbial life can rapidly regenerate to drive the carbon and nitrogen lifecycle,” explains Chris Gamble at Olmix Micromix. A study by The Soil Quality Database found it increased organic matter by 8t/ha and microbial biomass by 13.5%.
“A soil which is rich in humus will have a more stable structure and better root penetration – this makes it more resilient against erosion, compaction and water runoff,” he adds. Boosting humus also sequesters carbon, which reduces the farm’s carbon footprint and could even be marketed as public good.
Other trials results have revealed an estimated saving on tillage of between £36/ha and £54/ha – due to easier soil conditions – and fertiliser cost reductions of £45-£91/ha through improved nutrient availability in the soil. “When combined with an income gain of £36/ha to £136/ha (depending on crop type, including potatoes) due to better yields and quality – that results in a net gain of between £117/ha and £281/ha,” says Mr Gamble.
“The more you can do to improve soil health the better crops will be able to withstand volatile weather and stress, which will be key in the years ahead both for sustainability and farm profit.”