Spotlight on soils at Cereals 2018

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Good soil health and structure are the basis for any successful crop. Get it right, and you will benefit from high yields and better returns but get it wrong, and it could mean a failed crop. Back again for the 2018 event, the Soil Pit at Cereals will be showing farmers what really goes on below ground level and how to tackle some of the most important soil issues.

After doubling in size at last year’s event, Cereals will once again showcase a 20m long x 1.5m deep soil pit in order to demonstrate the impact of different cropping options on soil structure. “The soil pit is a unique opportunity for farmers to explore the foundations of a farming system,” explains Elizabeth Stockdale, head of farming systems research at NIAB. “By having an in depth look at soil, we can start to have conversations about what the issues are and how to alleviate them. What really stands out is how much the lower ground differs from what farmers expect.”

This year’s crops surrounding the Pit will include a mixture of both winter and spring options, such as beans, wheat and oats, as well as cover crops like radish and vetch, adds Ms Stockdale.

Once again, the soil pit will also have experts on hand to discuss some of the biggest issues faced by farmers. “Our stand is bigger this year meaning we will be able to showcase more examples of soil structure implications, including our rhizotrons and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s wormeries,” says Ms Stockdale. “Our experts will be discussing everything from understanding the uses of cover crops to the importance of a wider range of crops in rotations.

“We will also be turning our attention to assessing soil health in the first place, not just managing soil issues. It is critically important for farmers to understand what is going on in their soils – a spade is the most important diagnostic tool available.”

Soil health is a hot topic right now with many farmers turning their minds how the Government’s new 25-year plan might affect their land management. “While a potential greater focus on soil health is good news, many are worried about how it may be implemented, meaning it is more important than ever to get a handle on condition of the soil and the constraints of a site.”

For more information about this year’s Cereals Event visit:


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