I am at this event today and thought I would share some of the proceedings over the day. Let me know your feedback and questions and will fire it in...
Note: I will be editing and updating this post throughout the day so apologies for typos etc...
Talk 1: Policy
Basically there is a shed load of policy context/directives/regulation and increasing amount of ambition around soil health but very little in terms of baseline data, definition and action plans. Main point of note I thought was EU are preparing a Soil Monitoring and Resilience directive which will start to drive action on issues like compaction, water retention and P levels...
Talk 2: Soil Nutrient Health Scheme NI
Online results maps and tools looking great for farmers with soil nutrient maps available and run off risk maps.
Initial results from. zone 1
95 percent of farms samples covering 132,758 fields
58% fields below optimum pH with a lime requirement
45% fields over Index 3 for Phosphorus. Most excesses are Index 3 but there are some at Index 6 and a lot at Index 0 and 1. Basically none at Index 2.
73% fields at over Index 2+ for potassium
93% fields above optimum for sulphate
Interestingly dairy farms showed the narrowest band of P levels around the optimum and with fewer excess anomalies. Perhaps indicative of the more active management of dairy grasslands and the P offtake through silage.
Main question is how this data translates into actions. Need alternative options available through policy if farms want to act in some of the data.
Talk 3: NI Soil Health Research
Big issue of soil saturation levels in NI. Alot of land is over saturation point and inaccessible for more than 250 days per year. This drives all sort of management challenges for soil health, structure and biology
Focus areas for AFBI covering
New P test for Basalt soils in Antrim due to the way these soils hold onto P
Looking at sub-field scale nutrient management and fertiliser applications using GPS
Looking at alternative fertilisers such as pelletised organic manures, compost etc
Talk 4: Soil organic carbon
All got a bit high brow for me here but whatever congo grass is I want some...
Talk 5: Managing organic materials
Some nutrient management figures for you.
Digestate = Rocket fuel
Talk 6: Soil Health Research Overview
Interesting findings coming out soon on impact of reseeding and old and young grasslands swards on soil biology, carbon and nitrogen.
Talk 7: Measuring and managing soil health on farms
Soil Health guide for grasslands farms
Developing a scorecard for monitoring soil health
Talk 7: Soil Health in arable
Results from NI cover crop trial in spring barley rotation. Carbon and Nitrogen accumulation shows when timing is right can provide all necessary nitrogen for following spring barley crop.
Talk 8: Earthworms
Watch out for the flatworms
Talk 9: Multispecies swards
Plant diversity = yield
Interesting to see results of follow on crop and benefit of Multispecies in a rotation