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Moray Soil & Nutrient Network: Final meeting – event summary

17 July 2019

This was the third and final meeting of the Moray Soil & Nutrient Network

The afternoon began with a summary of what the Soil & Nutrient Network meetings had discussed previously.  You can find out more about this here.

David Lawson, a Grassland Agronomist with SRUC, was our guest speaker for this event and he led the group with an interesting presentation about grass varieties, variety testing and the recommended grass and clover varieties lists – the current one is Technical Note (TN719): Recommended grass and clover varieties 2018-2019. 

Having discussed the factors involved in choosing a suitable grass variety mix e.g. desired outcomes /sward use, soil conditions, climatic conditions such as rainfall etc., David then proceeded to discuss the various aspects of grassland management such as crop nutrition, weed control and grazing or cutting regimes.  Soil quality plays a big role in the productivity of any grass ley and key to this is knowing your soil structure, being aware of any potential compaction and drainage problems and keeping on top of soil analysis to ensure that soil pH and major nutrients such as P & K are kept in alignment with the requirements of the particular seed mix used.

The use of organic fertilisers has been a regular discussion topic during the meetings at Balnellan.  Before this event, grass samples from different fields on the farm had been sent for analysis and David was able to talk us through the results.  Samples had been taken from a field which had received an application of digestate, one from a field which received the farm’s slurry mix and another where no organic manure had been applied at all.  There was a lot of good discussion about the merits of and the caution needed when applying organic fertilisers.  Key to maximising their benefit is to know what nutrients you are spreading and the dry matter content before application.  This can be done with a simple slurry/digestate analysis and can ensure that you are providing nutrients to meet the crop demand.

The event then moved outdoors for a short farm walk where the group visited the fields from which the different grass samples had been taken and an additional field which has had digestate applied.

David’s take-home messages were:

  • When choosing a seed mixture ensure that the grass and clover varieties are on the Scottish Recommended list.
  • Grassland can capture significant amounts of carbon in the soil, particularly under long term  pasture
  • The carbon is held with the soil organic matter.  It also provides the main reserve of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen
  • The types of grass and clover sown can influence the quantity and quality of the soil organic matter

The presentation slides that were used by Aileen Buchanan, SAC Consulting & David Lawson are available to download from the links below, along with other relevant information to the topics discussed.


Related Downloads
Technical Note (TN719): Recommended Grass and Clover Varieties 2018-2019
Moray Soil & Nutrient Network final event presentation slides – Aileen Buchanan
Presentation slides from the final meeting at Balnellan Farm, used by SAC Consulting's Aileen Buchanan who was the farm and event facilitator for the Moray Soil & Nutrient Network project.
Topics: Soils
Moray Soil & Nutrient Network – final event: David Lawson presentation slides
Presentation slides used by SRUC's Grassland agronomist, David Lawon, during the final meeting of the Moray Soil & Nutrient Network, July 2019
Topics: Soils
Valuing Your Soils – Practical Guidance for Scottish Farmers
This brochure includes useful information about Scotland's agricultural soils and practical advice outlining the upfront financial savings and business benefits of better soil management and the efficient use of resources. Action and problem-specific 'field-sheets' are designed for busy farmers with limited time for reading.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils, Water Management and Crops and Soils
Healthy Grassland Soils – guide to soil assessment
This is publication from Newcastle University, ADAS, SRUC & AHDB can be used to help you assess the health of your grassland soils
Topics: Climate Change, Soils, Water Management and Crops and Soils
Farmer’s guide to sourcing and using digestate and compost
Thinking of using digestate or compost? This guide from Zero Waste Scotland in association with NFUS can help you choose the right product. The guidance gives you key questions to ask to support you through the process of sourcing and using compost and digestate to help make sure the materials will meet your requirements.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils and Water Management
Technical Note (TN699): Agricultural use of Biosolids, Composts, Anaerobic Digestates and other Industrial Organic Fertilisers
Organic fertilisers such as biosolids, composts, anaerobic digestates and industrial wastes can be useful and cost-effective crop nutrient sources that can improve soil quality. This technical note outlines their use in agriculture.
Topics: Climate Change, Soils and Water Management

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