25th October 2017

Soils Management Top of the Agenda at Morayshire Monitor Farm Meeting

It might be Halloween, but the attendees of the upcoming Morayshire Monitor Farm meeting on Tuesday 31 October will be unearthing undies, rather than donning costumes!

At the meeting, which is focused on soil management, monitor farmer Iain Green will reveal how the cotton underpants buried way back in September have fared using the theory that the worse the condition of the pants, the better the condition of the soil.

Iain says: “I’m really interested to see the state all the underpants are in. The theory behind the Soil my Undies test is that the cotton will be devoured by the microbes and bacteria in the soil, so the more you have the better. We buried them in different fields, some which we think have healthier soil, and others which aren’t as good, so I expect to see some pants in much worse condition than others.”

The meeting will also look at a number of other areas important for soil health, including soil compaction and tyre pressure, GPS soil sampling and liming products.

AHDB Knowledge Transfer Manager Emily Smith will lead the session at the soil pits where the group will discuss levels of compaction, working out where in the soil profile issues are apparent and how best to alleviate any damage.

For facilitator Sam Stewart, the compaction issue is particularly relevant after such a wet harvest. She says: “Because we had so much rain this year everyone had to get out into the field whenever they could to get the crop in, whether that was grain or grass. That means there could be a fair bit of damage with machinery on ground which below surface level would still have been very wet.”

With machinery still the main cause of compacted ground the event will also have demos from Michelin and JCB.  Tony Powell from Michelin will demonstrate the different levels of compaction caused by different tyre pressures while Angus Fettes from JCB will show attendees how tractors with four evenly sized tyres can put less pressure on the soil.

The final session will compare soil sampling methods, as well as contrasting the quality of different liming products on the market.

On the soil sampling side, one of Iain’s fields was sampled using three different methods, the traditional grid method and two GPS-based techniques. David Ross from SAC Consulting will discuss the benefits of using GPS methods outlining both the cost of each method, as well as the likely gain.

Project facilitator Derek Hanton will discuss the liming products which he has sampled for neutralising value, total magnesium and calcium, as well as putting them through a sieve to assess grain size.

The Monitor Farm meeting will take place on Corskie Farm, Garmouth, IV32 7NN, on Tuesday 31 October from 1.30pm until 5pm.  The event is free of charge but to assist with catering it would be appreciated if you can book a place by contacting Samantha Stewart by phone (01343 548 787) or email (samantha.stewart@sac.co.uk).

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk.

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