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Soils, drainage & grassland, Shetland – Event summary

17 July 2018

Grass has a key role in sustaining ruminant livestock production

The day consisted of a mix of outdoor practical sessions, indoor presentations and discussions aiming to help farmers understand how to improve soil, drainage and grassland management to led to better grass production.

Starting outside those who attended observed a reseed in progress using a power harrow in a silage aftermath.  Soils and drainage expert Gavin Elrick, SAC Consulting, then led a practical session discussing soil structure.  There were working machinery demonstrations showing the different actions and outcomes from a sward lifter, a sub-soiler and a spiked aerator.  Each provides a slightly different action and outcome from your soil and it is important to firstly identify any compaction problem that is present before deciding which piece of kit to use.

Moving indoors later in the day, Gavin then gave a detailed presentation covering soil texture, structure and compaction.  You can download a copy of Gavin’s presentation slides from this link.

David Lawson, SRUC, a grassland agronomist and crop specialist gave a interesting presentation about soil management for grassland soils. You can read David’s presentation slides from this link.

Key take home messages

  • Maintain your existing drainage
  • Check pH and nutrient levels Farming & Water Scotland Logo
  • Reseed regularly to take advantage of new improved grass varieties
  • Check soil structure and only remediate if problems are identified
  • Make sure you Know the Rules around rural diffuse pollution

Information that was available to take home from the event and related information is available to download from the links below.

Related Downloads
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
Technical Note (TN656): Soil Information, Texture & Liming Recommendations
• Web based access to information on your soils on your farm is described. • Soil texture classes of mineral soils are described and identified by hand texturing. • Liming recommendations for different soils and managements are tabulated.
Topics: Soils
Technical note (TN696): Recommended Grass and Clover Varieties 2017-2018
The agricultural industry in Scotland is co-operating in a scheme to ensure the continuation of the SRUC Recommended List of grass and clover varieties. The scheme, with the support of NFUS,AIC, SSTA and BSPB, involves a contribution for every kilogram of herbage seed sold.
Topics: Soils and Crops and Soils
Maximising The Performance of Grass Leys
This Practical Guide gives some tips to maintain long term production on grass leys.
Farming For A Better Climate: Practical Guide – Field Drainage
Topics: Soils and Water Management
Farming For A Better Climate: Practical Guide – Soil Management
Topics: Soils
Farming For A Better Climate: Practical Guide – Improving Soil Quality
This Practical Guide concentrates on how we can improve soil quality to help us to adapt to climate change.
Topics: Soils
Farming For A Better Climate: Practical Guide – Alleviating Soil Compaction
This Practical Guide gives some ideas on how to alleviate soil compaction.
Topics: Soils
‘Nutrients for Grass’: presentation slides used by Gavin Elrick at the 2nd Lewis & Harris SNN event
These are the presentation slides used by Gavin Elrick during the second meeting of the Lewis & Harris Soil & Nutrient Network meeting, held during September 2017.
Topics: Soils
Soil management for grassland – presentation slides from David Lawson
This is a copy of the presentation slides used by SRUC's David Lawson during the 'Soils, drainage & Grassland - Shetland' event in July 2018
Topics: Soils and Water Management

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