A grassland field guide for farmers – Soil smart and nutrient wise

A grassland field guide for farmers – Soil smart and nutrient wise

Thursday, October 3, 2013

As a legacy to the Nutrient Wise Demos, a sub-project of the SWARM Knowledge Hub, the British Grassland Society has produced a field guide entitled ‘Soil smart and nutrient wise – a guide for on-farm practice’. The guide is unique in that it takes the reader through the on-farm practical tips in line with the seasons.

First, it outlines the basics in grassland management including soil structure and texture, how to assess soils, the role of water, the key nutrients, and the importance of analysing manures.

Chapter two highlights the things the farmer should be doing in the winter months, what needs to be thought about and prepared, such as assessing pastures or thinking about a nutrient management plan.

The next chapter looks at early spring when the soil and air temperatures should  be starting to warm up, the next set of jobs to be done and the preparation that needs to take place. This is followed by the spring surge or post magic day when the guide provides tips for farmers to make the most of the spring growth.

A summer chapter looks into poaching, fertiliser and manure application and the benefits of clovers in the sward. Next is preparing for winter when the soil is vulnerable to damage during harvest.

The last section of the book is also what makes this book so distinctive.  It describes to farmers how to do their own on-farm trials to find the best practices of soil maintenance and repair, nutrient application, and plant types used in leys that suit their fields and the environmental issues that need to be considered. Also in the appendix are step-by-step instructions of farmer-led demonstrations to aid them in running their own trials and to use the information developed during the Nutrient Wise Demo project..

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