Vast amounts of soil quality knowledge has been generated and used to map soil complexity but science has not yet created useful ‘rules of thumb’ to cut through the complexity to deliver practicable guidelines for growers. If we want to manage soil quality and get our soils right, we need to consider the whole rotation, our management and our cultivations. We need to monitor and manage what is happening. While the chemistry and physics of the soil provides the context, it is the soil biota which is adaptive to changes in environmental circumstances. Farming relies on these ecological process, biodiversity and cycles of local soil conditions. By measuring soil quality it provides the capacity to understand and utilise the complex interactions that occur in soil more effectively. It is important to establish a link with soil function to be meaningful. For growers this translates into the ability to produce high yielding quality crops whilst, reducing temporal and spatial variability in yield. SoilBio is a research-led solution to measure soil quality that can potentially inform farm policy.

Soil scientists are blown away by the all-encompassing nature of the SoilBio project. The project partners are doing so much more than what’s been attempted previously – the approach is unique, in science, incorporating soil physics with chemistry and biology and in scale (think 6,000 soil samples rather than the usual 100). It’s a great story of research and commercial partners working together, funded by the UK government through Innovate UK. Farmers need simple answers to complex issues – SoilBio provides the opportunity for an MOT for soils without the hassle. Eric Anderson, Senior Agronomist at Scottish Agronomy, has been speaking to several Scottish growers groups who are really engaged with the SoilBio concept – they are ‘blown away’ with the visual relationship between the nematode communities (James Hutton Institute), the soil sampling results (SRUC), the satellite imagery (SoilEssentials) and the yield maps (Scottish Agronomy). It’s been achieved by the hard work of the Agronomy Team at SoilEssentials , who have already collected over 2500 soil samples across the UK.

Mounting it on KORE is the way to present the complex messages simply to farmers and agronomists. KORE is the new cloud-based platform recently introduced by SoilEssentials – a precision farming toolbox to manage variation through space and time and the interface where software, hardware, services and research come together to provide real world land use management solutions.

We are still actively looking for fields to sample across the UK (in particular Scottish Borders and the Black Isle) – at no cost to the farmer – for pH, P, K, Mg, Ca, Na and C%. Contact us on 01356 650459 to get involved.

More information about KORE can be viewed here: https://www.koresolution.com/

 

                  

19 December 2017 News Research & Projects

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Dave Robertson, Stackpole Farms
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