The CropTec Show 2017
Join Jacqueline this November at The CropTec Show in the crop establishment seminar
Registration is free for all those who pre-register before the event.
Healthy soils climb the farming agenda
Jacqueline Stroud speaking in the crop establishment seminar
Healthy soil has long been the basic foundation for any profitable crop, yet the complex interactions contributing to soil quality can sometimes be overlooked amid the pressures of modern agriculture.
Attitudes are changing though and we are all increasingly looking at better ways to measure and improve soil health, for both environmental and financial reasons.
Knowing what makes up “healthy soil” can be complex, but as my CropTec talk will explain, there are several indicators we can use. Some require laboratory testing, while others are relatively simple assessments that can be done in the field.
Earthworms are an excellent biological indicator that can be easily measured. A good earthworm population will improve drainage and natural structuring as well as speed-up nutrient cycling, all of which contributes to healthier, productive plant growth.
It takes time to change soil characteristics, but Rothamsted research has found noticeable improvements in worm numbers are possible after just three years with the right approach to tillage and organic matter management, as I will explain.
Soil carbon is another important soil health indicator and is climbing the political agenda as policymakers seek to address climate change.
The government has joined the voluntary “4 per 1000 Initiative”, which invites members to come up with practical ways of improving carbon sequestration in soil. Agriculture is a target area and with Brexit likely to result in changes to farm support we could see more focus on soil carbon within future policy.
For some, a lack of birds following the plough may be the first clue soil health needs looking at, but none of us can afford to neglect it.
The great support from farmers who donated soil samples for my research into soil health indicators is testament to the changing attitudes, and I look forward to sharing some early findings from this work at CropTec.
Jacqueline Stroud will speak in the Crop Establishment sessions sponsored by Horsch
Chaired by Robert Lockhart, Staffordshire farmer and vice-chairman NFU Combinable Crops Board, this looks like a great line-up:
- Jacqueline Stroud, soil scientist, Rothamsted Research, will walk us through looking after soil health and biology is key to maintaining profitability;
- Philip Wright, independent cultivation consultant, will cover technical aspects of different tillage scenarios;
- Brian Barker, one of the ‘Barker Boys’ will give us his take on getting crops off to the best start, while keeping an eye on costs, fuel use, peak workload and emissions.