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24 Sep 2021

The benefits of grass/herbal leys in arable rotations for soil quality

Thebenefits ofgrass/herballeys in arable rotationsfor soil quality


Couldthe integration of grass/herbal leys into arable rotations benefit both arable and livestock farming systems?Continuous arable cropping with annual cultivationswithlittle or no inputs of organic materialscanlead to reductions in soil organic matter content,an essentialcomponent formaintainingsoil quality and fertility.Improvements to soil organic matteris known toincreasemoisture retention and nutrient turnover, improvesoil structure and reduceerosion risk.

Results recently announced following anAHDB Beef and Lamb funded studyhasshown thattemporary grass leyshave the potential toincreasetheorganic matter content in arable soils by reducing the frequency of cultivations and increasing the return of organic material in the form of roots and litter.In autumn 2017,six long term arable fieldsat Norwood Farm in Somersetwere sown with grass,cloverand herbal leys mixes.Detailed baseline soil assessments including soil nutrients, organic matter content, respiration, worm counts and visual soil assessments, wereallcarried out inthesefieldsinautumn 2017andwererepeatedafter three years in autumn 2020. Soil organic matterwas found to haveincreased by 0.3 percentage points, equivalent to 6 t/ha organic matter. Earthworm numbersalsoincreasedby 60% over thethree yearley.

Join ADAS and AHDB in Somerset to learn more

If you would like to find out more about this project and the benefits of integrating livestock into arable rotations, you can join ADAS and AHDB for an on-farmfreeevent hosted by Dyson Farming at Norwood Farm in Somerset on 23rdSeptember.Financialconsiderationsand the practicalities of integrating livestock intoanarable system will also be covered on the day.

For more information and to register, please visit the AHDB website -

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