Experts at Cereals will be on hand to help growers get the most from their soils – in a special series of seminars which aim to maximise its potential.
Seminars during the second day of the event will focus exclusively on soil – covering everything from research into the microbiome to drainage, regenerative farming, and carbon measurement tools.
“Healthy soils equate to healthy profits – both from crop production and the trading of natural capital,” explains event organiser Alli McEntyre. “We want to give visitors the latest information and practical tools from researchers, scientists and award-winning farmers.”
Visitors will be able to get beneath the ground to examine soil structure in the NIAB Soil Pit. And the latest advice regarding water management in relation to soil will be available in a new drainage demonstration area.
When growing crops, soil health is at the start of everything, says Vaughn Stansfield, UK manager of seminar sponsor UPL. “It’s the foundation upon everything we do and yet it can be the most limiting factor in the chain of crop production when neglected.”
UPL is putting sustainability clearly on the agenda. “As an industry and globally, we are looking to move forward in a sustainable manner, but it needs to be done profitably, and these two things aren’t mutually exclusive,” explains Mr Stansfield.
But focusing on soil health isn’t just about growing better crops. Changes to farm support and the evolution of carbon offsetting schemes to combat climate change means soil health poses multiple opportunities to farmers.
The Linking Environment and Farming charity – LEAF – has been working to deliver a profitable and sustainable farmed environment for more than 30 years. There are an increasing number of nature-based opportunities for farmers, it says.
“Nature is core in driving improved soil health,” says Caroline Drummond, CEO at LEAF. “We cannot just look at policy to drive this change – first and foremost there needs to be control of this from a business perspective.”
Farmers who want to seize these opportunities should start by reviewing the past two harvests, says George Badger, partner at consultants Ceres Rural. This should include an assessment of business performance – as well as cropping.
“All farmers acknowledge there is room for improvement in their business, and our advice is to focus on improving soils and their resilience over the next five years and beyond,” explains Mr Badger.