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20 May 2021

Setting new standards for soil management

As featured in Arable Farming Magazine

Setting new standards for soil management

by Arable Farming

The revised syllabus considers the significant changes in cultivation techniques seen in recent years

As awareness of the importance of managing soils, as well as crops increases, BASIS has launched a revised soil and water management certificate that takes account of new knowledge on managing soil structure and health.

First launched in 2004, the soil and water module set new standards for managing one of the most important aspects of crop production the soil.

Over the years more than 1,350 candidates have successfully gained this certificate, many using it as one of a number of modules required to gain the coveted BASIS diploma in agronomy.

Greg Hopkinson, BASIS head of business development, says: In practical farming the past decade has seen significant changes in cultivation techniques and precision farming options.'

In addition, the research community has gained considera bly more knowledge to aid more effective soil management and there is now a significant political drive to address the big issues of sustainability and climate change.

Syllabus All of these factors have been taken into account in the revised syllabus for soil and water management.

The revision has been completed over the past year with extensive input from a group of industry experts.

The key changes begin with an increased focus on how to assess soils and create management plans to remedy issues or avoid creating problems, especially minimising and alleviating compaction.

There is an increased focus on how to mitigate climate change through effective soil management.

This is backed up with a revised section dealing with the relevant legislation, especially now the UK has left the EU.

The advances in cultivation techniques, technology and industry knowledge are all incorporated within the revised course.

Finally, the revision has taken account of amendments made to the current FACTS course and overlaps have been reduced.

We have restructured the modules to ensure candidates can work through the course in a more logical and intuitive way, says Mr Hopkinson.

Examination Alongside a revised syllabus, is a new structure for the examination.

This will now be carried out over two days.

On day one candidates complete a written examination with 20 multiple choice questions and undertake an exercise to create a farm management plan.

The second day comprises two oral examinations, or ‘vivas.

The first is an interview with a BASIS examination chairman which lasts about 20 minutes.

The second is an interview with a soils expert in a soil pit which will assess the candidates practical understanding in depth.

Those who gain the soil and water management certificate are well equipped to advise on and manage both soil and water in practice on UK farms.

In addition to this course, BASIS also offers an advanced course called ‘quality of soils which focuses more on matters such as soil biology.

Together the two courses provide an in-depth knowledge to help the increasingly important issue of soil health..

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