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Lanarkshire Soil & Nutrient Network – event summary

27 July 2017

The Importance of Soil Properties

The meeting was held at Crumhaugh Farm, Stonehouse and  focussed on the importance of addressing soil compaction to achieve healthier soils and better yields.  This was the second out of three meetings for the Lanarkshire Soil & Nutrient Network farm group and was held on 27th July 2017.

Jennifer Brown (SAC Consulting Lanark) opened the meeting with a background to, and the objectives of the Soil & Nutrient Network farms and gave a briefing for everyone of the previous group meeting.  This included a discussion around the compaction issues which had been found on the farm.  Since then, some subsoiling had been undertaken whichGroup of people in a grass field has rectified the issues, leading to drier fields and increased silage yields.

Gavin Elrick, (SAC Consulting soil specialist) was on hand to discuss the findings from the ‘Bait sticks’ trial.  Bait sticks which had been buried in the fields showed good biological activity with the highest levels found in a 10 year old sward. The improved soil structure and increased worm count was clear to see.

There was a practical demonstration of a sward lifter in action by a local contractor and lots of discussion about the machinery.

Other topics of discussion led to the key points listed below.

Key take home messages:

Group of people looking at a sward lifter

  1. Sward lifting can be a useful tool to reduce compaction however always check by digging a test hole to ensure it is required andat what depth the compaction is at.
  2. If spreading digestate ensure the same nutrient budgeting principles are applied if spreading slurry as well as same cross compliance guidance
  3. Sward lifting or subsoiling in incorrect conditions can do more harm than good. If a spade smears the soil then conditions are too wet.
  4. Liming materials should be compared on price compared to neutralising value. Although some granular products can be quicker acting they are required to be spread little and often and are not suitable for a longer liming rotation.
  5. If digestate is not PAS110 accredited you will need to apply for SEPA approval to spread


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