Start of Soil Structure Survey

August 26, 2009

Whilst not the top of the list of topics to talk about in the pub or at the dinner table, soil structure and organic matter content are vital parts of successful arable farm.  For hundreds of years this farm has used the plough to turn over soil prior to establishing a crop and it has proved highly successful.  Ploughing buries crop residue and weed seeds, removes ruts and compaction and releases nitrates which help the new crop to grow.  However with the rise of the price of diesel and steel, ploughing is now quite an expensive option so many farmers have moved to, or experimented with, ‘min-till‘ or ‘no-till‘ techniques.  As I have mentioned in a previous blog we bought a Claydon Direct Drill last year so have exactly one years experience of not ploughing but drilling directly into stubble.  One claimed benefit is that yields should not drop or possibly even increase.

I will post the results at the end of the harvest ! In addition non inversion tillage (not turning soil over) should increase surface organic matter and worm numbers.  Organic Matter levels are hard to measure so I thought it would be easier to monitor worm type and levels.  Dr Nancy Oakes has kindly agreed to do an informal study and visited the combine on August 14th to see how things were going and talk about how to start studying soil structure and worm levels when drilling starts in a few weeks.  We will also compare the results with fields that have been planting after the plough.


One Response to “Start of Soil Structure Survey”

  1. Oli Joslin on October 20th, 2009 2:23 am

    Nice to see you scrabbling around in the dirt Chris, makes you look like a real farmer! I’m very jealous of the picture of the combine and blue sky… we didn’t get much of that this year… as of today (Oct 19th) we still have 40 odd acres of oats to combine, although thankfully the snow that we had last week has for the most part melted!

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