Great chat last night about soil. We didn't record the session as we want folk to feel free to chat away but we did save the written chat which contains lots of links to resources. Video at the bottom is from Kevin O'Hanlon.
19:18:43 From Will Frazer to Everyone:
We have a big issue with soil compaction. How do speakers deal with compaction on their farms as seems hard to get any soil biology if there is no air?
19:19:21 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
Absolutely Will - everything needs to breathe, so air is important!
19:21:49 From Gerard Convery to Everyone:
Im looking at purchasing an aerator this year to help break the surface,
19:24:40 From Will Frazer to Everyone:
Yeah was thinking about that Gerard. Or stitching in something that busts through concrete like oats!
19:26:23 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
I don't think current oat varieties root deep enough Will...maybe something more like this: https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/products/1566/herbal-over-seeding-mixture-deep-rooting-herbal-ley can be grazed or cut
19:27:42 From Gerard Convery to Everyone:
Does chicory do well direct drilled into a grass sward
19:29:31 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
Have experienced mixed results Gerard with chicory being direct drilled, following a hard graze with sheep.
19:30:43 From Will Frazer to Everyone:
Nikki do you get much clover in your tall grass swards or is there just not enough light and heat getting to the soil surface?
19:30:50 From William Chestnutt to Everyone:
Had good success with it direct drilled in after zero grazer tried again last year with less success
19:32:22 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
We get a fair bit - but I'm a much bigger fan of birds foot trefoil and vetches - same job as clover but persist better in a tall grass system and don't cause bloat...also BFT is high in tannins, which can help reduce presence of intestinal parasites.
19:34:22 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
Yes Jim! Big fans of agroforestry here - central part of our system!
19:38:37 From Will Frazer to Everyone:
Thats great catherine. Thinking similarly on growing a oats and peas crop for feeding to the ewes. Does that do enough to replace your meal for the in lamb ewes?
19:40:24 From Jim McAdam to Everyone:
Thanks Nikki. Ian, I would be interested in talking to you about agroforestry as part of your move to permaculture?
19:41:34 From Catherine McKenna to Everyone:
yes Will, currently lambing and i am only feeding grass silage and oats and peas to doubles, singles only on silage, have found lambs are good size and good milk so far.
19:45:53 From Sinead to Everyone:
Catherine can you undersow the combi crop with a grass mix?
19:46:00 From Stephen Alexander to Everyone:
do you stitch or is that a no no Nikki
19:46:32 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
No we don't Stephen, not on any of our current ground - everything is managed through varying grazing intensity
19:47:13 From Stephen Alexander to Everyone:
brilliant, bit like our Strangford ground
19:48:38 From Catherine McKenna to Everyone:
I have been advised you can undersow, we haven't tried it with a combi but have undersowd straight oats previously
19:48:53 From Sinead to Everyone:
Reacted to "I have been advise..." with 👍
19:49:23 From Will Frazer to Everyone:
We have pretty high P levels on the farm and i understand soil microbes can help mobilise this from its current state into accessible nutrient? Anyone had a go at trying access immobilised P in soils? What have you tried?
19:51:04 From Jonny Blair to Everyone:
Buckwheat within a diverse cover crop is supposed to help with P
19:52:38 From Helen Keys to Will Frazer(Direct Message):
Do you think it might be good to split into breakout rooms by topic
19:52:42 From Philip Masterson to Everyone:
High magnesium in soil is supposed to make P more available. It can be hard build up P levels in high mag soil.
19:54:17 From William Chestnutt to Everyone:
mycorrhizal fungi are the go to for mobilising P so could try planting seeds that have been inoculated or there are sprays available to boost biology to release P
19:56:04 From Jonny Blair to Everyone:
Assuming lower anthelmintic usage with the goal of removing them entirely, how long roughly will it take before dung beetles make a comeback?
19:56:32 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
Depends on how far away they are Jonny, but you can buy them in I think!
19:57:26 From Jonny Blair to Everyone:
19:58:27 From Nikki Yoxall - PFL to Everyone:
Some anthelmintics actually attract dung beetles (and then kill them) so they may be coming in already. Worth digging through dung to find them
19:58:52 From Stephen Alexander to Everyone:
19:59:31 From Jonny Blair to Everyone:
I’ve seen a few holes through pats this summer but hard to know whats making them 🤦♂️
A lot of people seem to use simply earthworm count as a good indicator of soil health. Easy to measure-pour dilute mustard powder on a known area and all the worms in that volume will come to the surface. Dosent kill them either.
20:13:22 From Philip Masterson to Everyone:
If you're grazing. A good visual of biology is the length of time it takes for the dung pat to disappear to soil.