New £1m partnership to address knowledge gaps in soil biology

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) have announced an ambitious new research partnership to develop practical soil biology management guidance.

The five-year partnership looks to improve on-farm understanding of soil health by benchmarking current academic and industry knowledge, developing and validating indicators of soil biology and soil health in research trials and integrating a far-reaching knowledge exchange programme throughout the five-year programme.

This forms an important part of AHDB’s strategic commitment to accelerating innovation and productivity growth through coordinated research and development and knowledge exchange.

The new £1 million project is part of the AHDB GREATsoils programme, complementing a £1.5 million initiative looking at soil structure, announced by AHDB last year.

Dr Elizabeth Stockdale, partnership lead from NIAB, said: “We recognise that there are already a broad range of novel soil health management strategies being used in an array of production systems; we want to bring together the best research and the most effective practical approaches on-farm by establishing up to eight farmer research innovation groups across the UK so we can help farmers develop their own site-specific best practice.”

Farmers and growers are invited to take part in the project launch events which will:

  • Summarise the state-of-the-art research in soil biology and health and ask for input on the best ways to share this information with the grower on the ground
  • Present a proposed “soil health scorecard” and seek feedback ahead of piloting through the farmer-research innovation groups
  • Listen to the questions of farmers and growers; identify challenges and opportunities that the programme should tackle in soil biology and soil health on-farm
  • Explain how farmers and growers can get involved in the farmer-research innovation groups
  • Will commence with workshops intended to engage farmers and growers to develop a programme of activity that will meet the needs of the industry.

The Managing Soil Health Workshops will take place on:

Monday 13 November – 10:00am to 3:30pm
Cockle Park Farm, Newcastle University, Morpeth NE61 3EB

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.