Soil & Water Management Centre

Developing & improving your soils


Who you will hear and what you will learn about!

Bio/Eco Systems: Earthworms, nature's plough

Earthworms are known to play an important role in soil functioning and health but what is that role and how can we ensure that we have the best environment for our earthworm’s? There are a number of factors that will encourage earthworm’s to our fields so with a better understanding of their requirements and therefore their role we can improve our soil function and ultimately our crop production. Lucy will present case studies around the impact of water movement and nutrient cycling on earthworms’ environment and provide advice on the best ways to measure numbers of and encourage earthworms to your fields.

Dr Lucy Crockford, Lecturer in Soil and Water Management at Harper Adams University

What amendments work? - not all bullsh*t is good for your soil!

“There are an ever increasing range of soil amendments being targeted at farmers and growers promising better soils, increased yields and greater profitability. However, evidence supporting claims is often limited or absent and it can be difficult to distinguish between potential beneficial amendments and “snake oil”. This presentation will discuss and critically analyse some of the amendments and techniques currently claimed to increase, and allow measurement of, soil health.”

Dr Simon Jeffery, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Technology at Harper Adams University

Drainage advances: “Drain the problem not the field”

Farm drainage was installed by the Romans. The technology has obviously progressed since then, and particularly with the development of precision agriculture. Mastenbroek will give an overview of land drainage, including insights from their Worldwide experience. Precision agriculture now gives the farmer unprecedented data concerning crop yields, soil type and topography - all of which helps determine an efficient drainage scheme. We will demonstrate how GPS and water management software is used to survey, analyse, design, install and map an efficient drainage scheme. The presentation will also consider the future of drainage in relation to environmental and conservation issues.

Mr Fred Clarke, Technical Sales Engineer, Mastenbroek

Drainage Case Studies

A number of local farmers will be relating their recent experiences with drainage installations, telling us the "whys and wherefores" and their anticipated return on investements. Hear from Guy Taylor for example at our Essex conference, relating improvements in soil working and crop yields following the new drainage scheme shown below (photo, William Morfoot Ltd). Hear also from farmers who have invested in their own trenchers and GNSS systems or those who have gone down the more conventional route of usiing contractors to carry out drainage works.

Strip Till/Cover Cropping: “Less is more – let nature do some of the work"

Victor will look at the reasons for using strip tillage and what benefits it can bring within different cropping scenarios. He will then look at the detail, how to get it right in contrasting soils and how to make it work with different weed and pest challenges. Using strip till in association with cover cropping brings added benefits and Victor will again show the importance of attending to detail. For example, choosing the right species composition to achieve your primary objectives while encouraging beneficial soil life and discouraging the bad guys, maybe slugs and blackgrass. Equally important, how do you make the transition from cover to cash crop – get it wrong and it could be a costly experience? Come to hear from someone who in addition to travelling widely in France and the UK has gained experience in North America, Sweden and Denmark and through a Nuffield scholarship in 2015.

Victor Leforestier farms in Normandy with his parents where he grows sugarbeet and oilseed rape using strip till in conjunction with cover crops. In addition, Victor writes regularly for the TCS magazine, a French publication devoted to conservation agriculture and agro-ecology.

Strip till/cover crop case studies

Hear from farmers who have "been there, done that and got the t-shirt"! There's a lot to learn about these activities to make them work for you, be sustainable, improve your soils and strengthen your bottom line for years to come. We will have two farmers at each conference venue who will tell their stories, including trials with different cover crop species and the most effective row spacings with strip till to improve light interception. At our Askham Bryan venue, you will hear from Dave Blacker who has been into cover cropping and strip till for five years, experiencing both wet and dry seasons and the rigours of slugs.

HAU Tillage and Traffic Projects – UK & Zambia: “Less traffic reduces tillage and increases yields”

Dick will bring us up to date with the results of a long term traffic and tillage study at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, UK. The extensive trial is studying the effects of deep, shallow and no-till in the presence of conventional, low pressure and controlled traffic on a sandy loam soil. The rotation has included winter wheat and barley and spring oats and wheat.
Yields between tillage and traffic treatments varied significantly and results from this year's spring wheat will add to the robust conclusions so far. Lessons from a sister project in Zambia will also be reported as may results from a similar trial in Illinois.

Professor Dick Godwin, Harper Adams University


Site Admin: Tim Chamen
t: 01525 405121/Mob 07714 206048

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software