Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to assess soil health and improve it to raise crop yields. Find out when to test your soil and how to interpret the test results. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, adding organic matter, improving drainage and growing cover crops.

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How to measure earth worms

Find out why and how to measure earthworms to help maintain healthy soils for arable and livestock crops. Jackie Stroud of Wormscience, an agricultural soil scientist based at Rothamsted Research, takes you through the steps, explaining types of the worms and where they are found in the soil layers.

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Practical advice

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Why soil measurement is a key challenge for carbon farming

Establishing a trusted measurement method is going to be critical if carbon markets are to take off for arable farmers, enabling them to earn money in return for capturing and…


Soil fungi can help improve the health of crops

Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial organisms that have a symbiotic relationship with plants, growing in association with their roots and helping them to thrive. A key component of any balanced farming…


7 steps to adopt a biological-based system on arable farms

Most growers would like to move to a less chemical-dependent future, but while the theory sounds good, the practicalities are much more challenging. Regenerative agricultural consultant and farmer Ben Taylor-Davies,…


Step-by-step guide for a tailored approach to crop nutrition

Taking a tailored approach to nutrition can help cereal growers achieve a more sustainable crop performance, through better plant health and resilience. In recent years, cereal yields have plateaued and…


How to reduce soil compaction and optimise crop yields

Compacted soils can typically yield 10-20% lower than healthy soils, which is why growers could benefit from a range of measures to cut compaction risks and avoid costly yield losses.…


How to accurately measure the organic carbon content of soil

How to measure organic carbon in soils and, even more importantly, accurately measure how it changes over time, are major challenges in the potential development of new income streams for…

Case studies

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How two growers are using regenerative ag to protect water

Pressure to reverse excessive nitrate leaching into both the Wessex Water borehole and wider Poole Harbour catchments has led Dorset farmer John Hawkins to radically reshape his farm in the…


How a carbon pilot is opening up a direct market for farmers

Very few farmers have so far been paid for sequestering carbon within an arable rotation, but opportunities are beginning to open up, both globally and in the UK. Carl Krefting,…


How Berks farm estate is preparing for a progressive future

Developing a sustainable and viable farming operation while keeping to the Welford Park Estate’s ethos of protecting the land is the task being undertaken by the host of the AHDB…


New AHDB Strategic Farm to focus on regenerative agriculture

Arable farmers interested in adopting regenerative agriculture practices will soon be able to gain tips and advice from an AHDB project, with one farmer sharing his ideas and experiences over…


Soil is key as Norfolk estate prepares for end of subsidies

Improving soil health is key for one Norfolk farming estate as it looks to cut crop inputs and raise yields to prepare for a future without direct farm subsidies. After…


How technology is helping farmer adopt regenerative farming

Some may view regenerative farming as going back in time with its emphasis on rotations, diversity and livestock integration, but for Ken Hill Farm &amp; Estate in Snettisham, west Norfolk,…


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Regen farming data show variable costs cut by 18%

Latest results from the Groundswell benchmarking group show that everything is lower in a regenerative agriculture system, except for the all-important net margin. Variable costs are 18% lower, while labour…


6 companies offering carbon-based payments to arable farmers

From government-backed schemes to voluntary private markets, there has been an explosion of interest in developing carbon and additional ecosystem service credits that could provide a new income stream for…


How new carbon offset scheme for regenerative ag works

The first UK-certified soil carbon offsetting scheme is available to farmers who use regenerative agriculture practices, offering them a commercial opportunity worth up to £100/ha from sequestering carbon in their…


Will soil carbon be the next big crop for growers?

It feels like a perfect storm: the urgency of climate change, the global surge in interest in regenerative agricultural practices and the need for new income streams. They are all…


How the UK's first soil carbon mapping service works

The UK’s first carbon mapping service, capable of providing an accurate baseline measure of soil carbon levels, is now available to farmers. The technology, known as Terramap Carbon, will gauge…


Why regular liming can raise profits by up to £436/ha/year

A new study has highlighted the benefit of a long-term liming strategy in arable rotations, with regular applications shown to significantly increase farm profitability. Agricultural soils become acidic naturally and…


Emerging tech to improve soil health and cut pesticide use

Soil degradation across the world is costing agriculture average losses estimated at 1.5mm/year on conventionally managed farms and how to reverse this trend is key to the future of farming.…


Why a farmer is establishing catch crops with a sprayer

A farmer in Lincolnshire is trialling a new way of sowing catch crops, by adapting his sprayer to sow the seed in a standing crop of vining peas. Arable farmer…

Latest soils news

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Cereals 2021: Standard carbon footprinting tool by 2023

A carbon footprinting tool based on a common, UK industry-wide approach is being developed by the AHDB and Defra and should be ready by the start of 2023, it was…


Cereals 2021: Defra pledges 30% uplift in soil health payments

Support payments for farmers who improve soil health will be some 30% higher under the government's new environmental scheme for England, Defra has pledged. But farmers are being warned that…


2021 Soil Farmer of the Year award winners announced

Two farmers who put soil health at the centre of their farming systems have been named as joint winners of the 2021 Soil Farmer of the Year award. Kent arable…


'Only 60 years of harvests left' claim is a myth, says study

Claims that the world may only have 60 harvests left because of poor soil management are “overblown” and “nonsensical”, according to new research from Oxford University. The United Nations’ Food…


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Video: How a US potato grower is slashing pesticide use

Growing potatoes on a commercial scale with virtually zero synthetic inputs would seem impossible, but this is exactly what one US farmers has achieved using what he calls “biotic farming”,…


Video: High-pressure water tech aids direct drilling success

Replacing drill coulters with a high-pressure jet to open up the soil will not only improve germination, its inventors believe it can aid rooting by cracking compaction and aerating soils.…


Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…