Soil assessment can make a difference this spring

Soil assessment can make a difference this spring

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dr George Fisher from Reaseheath College and representing the British Grassland Society recently took a group of farmers step-by-step through the new Healthy Grassland Soils tool to determine the health of the farm soils.

George demonstrated the correct way to dig a hole – use the spade to cut along 3 sides of a spade-sized square and then lever the soil out along the uncut edge. It is this edge that you need to be looking at for signs of compaction – if you look at the cut edges the soil will be smeared and will give a false negative assessment!

Farmers get busy with spades digging pits for soil assessment.

 A blocky structure indicates compaction.

Evidence of roots growing down through the profile and earthworm activity are indicators of a healthy soil.

The event showed that marked differences in soil structure and health can be found even within the same field, with some pits showing orange mottling (iron deposits which are a sign of waterlogging), and other areas of very dark (indicative of high organic matter) and crumbly soil (good structure). There were some signs of compaction lower down the profile, which were expected as the field had been trafficked during silage making in the past. The group was in agreement that the soil scored 2.5 to 3 on the scale and that aeration could be considered as an option when conditions allow.

For more from the event organised by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment view the Farm NW write-up here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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