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Thainstone Soil & Network: 1st meeting – event summary

30 October 2019

The first meeting of the new Thainstone Soil & Nutrient Network was held on Kirkton Farm near Kinellar with the kind permission of our host farmer, Scott Campbell.

Scott has been awarded the prestigious 2019 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year, so it was a very informative introductory meeting for those in attendance.  Scott gave an insight into how the farm has been managed in recent years and how that helped him win the 2019 award.   You can read  Scott’s presentation slides here.

SAC Consulting’s David Ross then took to the floor to give a detailed presentation highlighting the importance of soil pH when farming crops; he also detailed the differences between GPS soil analysis techniques and the traditional soil testing practices.  Armed with information, David led the group out of doors to the fields to show the group what they should be looking for when inspecting their soils and indicators of good soil health.  Read David’s presentation slides here.

David’s top tip – Use a spade to dig test holes of 25cm x 25cm x 25 cm to assess soil structure and count your worms!”

Soil & water specialist with SAC, Gavin Elrick, was also one of the key speakers.  Gavin discussed soil compaction; how it becomes a problem; how to identify and the importance of identifying the correct depth of compaction and the methods of alleviating soil compaction at different depths.  Read Gavin’s presentation slides here.

Gavin’s top tip – “Use a steel rod with a t-shaped handle to assess where and at what depth you have compaction issues before resorting to corrective actions.”

Gavin also highlighted the lessons he has learnt from a trialling cover cropping on his own farm with funding from the Mains of Loriston Trust.

You can read more about how to inspect your soil health using our webpage here.  Alternatively, there is a wealth of information available in the Valuing Your Soils booklet which can be downloaded using the links below.  Handouts available to take home from this event are also included in the list 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: Crops and Soils, Soils, Climate Change and Water Management
Technical note (TN671): Management of boron in soils for crops
Topics: Soils
TN685 – Sulphur Recommendations for Crops
Sulphur (S) is an essential crop nutrient that has received less attention in the past as the supply from industrial emissions sources have been sufficient to meet annual requirements for many crop types. As atmospheric deposition of S continues to decline due to reduced emissions from industrial sources, the risk of S deficiency affects an increasingly wide area of farmed land.
TN714 Liming materials and recommendations
TN717 Phosphate and potash recommendations for crops grown in North East Scotland and Tayside
TN721 Soil Biodiversity and Soil Health
Technical note (TN650): Optimising the application of bulky organic fertilisers
Livestock manures should be viewed as valuable resources rather than as waste products. They can bring significant benefits to soils and crops when used appropriately, and their use can result in considerable savings on purchased fertilisers.
Topics: Crops and Soils and Soils
Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) Score Chart
This is a downloadable copy of the Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) score chart for use in-field.
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 – Soil Management
Topics: Soils
Practical Guide: Soil sampling I – How to take a soil sample
This practical guide details what is required to take a soil sample for analysis that is representative of the area sampled.
Topics: Soils, Climate Change and Water Management
Practical Guide: Soil sampling II – Benefits to your business
This practical guide details how soil sampling can benefit businesses by increasing productivity and create efficiencies on fertiliser inputs through better nutrient planning.
Topics: Soils, Climate Change and Water Management

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