Orkney Soil & Nutrient Network: 1st meeting event summary

20 August 2018

This was the first meeting of the Orkney Soil and Nutrient Network Farm based at Midgarth in Stronsay.

The meeting focused on the soil, slurry and FYM analyses carried out on the host farm.  The results were discussed in the context of what to do to raise pH, P and K levels where aGroups of people sitting at tables inside a hall listening to a presentation during the Orkney SNN meetingppropriate using the available resources on the island including the calcareous shell sand. Neutralising values were also highlighted as a means of which to compare different liming materials.

Soil structure, texture and compaction was also discussed and actual examples of good and poor soils were on-hand to show the attendees.  This led seamlessly onto an in-field demonstration of two items of machinery which alleviate compaction issues in grassland.  Both were deemed to be successful in their own right at enhancing the soil structure in the fields in which they were used.

Key points from this event

  • Use the neutralising value (NV) of liming materials to help determine which product to use to achieve and maintain target pH levels.
  • Be aware of how and when to take soil samples, avoiding areas where lime or FYM may have been stored in the past e.g. near gateways.
  • Try and soil sample the fields on your farm at the same time of year, ensuring there is a significant break between the application of any fertiliser and taking the actual sample.Group of farmers in a field with a sward lifter during the Orkney SNN meeting
  • Consider analysing the slurry and FYM on farm to ascertain accurate N, P and K content as using book values can vary significantly for what you may actually be applying.
  • Whilst there are many different machines on the market to alleviate compaction, they will not all do the same job.  Ensure you identify where your compaction issue is within the soil profile before selecting an appropriate machine to alleviate it at an appropriate time.

Download the presentation files used during this event, delegate pack information available to take away on the day and other relevant information using the links below.


This was the first of three meetings that will be held as part of the Orkney Soil & Nutrient Network.  There are 11 other host farms across Scotland all taking a ‘before and after’ look at how to protect and improve farm soils and make best use of both organic and inorganic fertilisers, saving money, benefiting yields and improving farm efficiency and resilience.  Find out more here.


Related Downloads
Orkney Soil & Nutrient Network 1st meeting – Bill Crooks presentation slides
These are presentation slides used by Bill Crooks during the first meeting of the Orkney Soil & Nutrient Network. Bill discussed nutrient management and soil analysis, including the topic of the use and neutralising value of different limes.
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Orkney Soil & Nutrient Network: 1st meeting presentation slides – Gavin Elrick
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Valuing Your Soils – Practical Guidance for Scottish Farmers
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Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) Score Chart
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Technical notes (TN652): Fertiliser recommendations for grassland
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Technical Note (TN656): Soil Information, Texture & Liming Recommendations
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Practical Guide: Soil sampling I – How to take a soil sample
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Practical Guide: Soil sampling II – Benefits to your business
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Practical Guide: Tyre selection & management
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Farmers attending the Orkney SNN meeting standing in a grassland field with soil compaction remediation machinery

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