338: AHDB Beef & Lamb: Reducing inputs and understanding soil tests pt1
Written by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
This Food & Farming podcast episode is part one of two episodes which follows the journey of Beef & Lamb Strategic Farmer Chris Elkington and independent consultant Dr Liz Genever as they look into reducing inputs (such as fertiliser) and understanding what soil tests are telling us. The condition of soil on livestock farms directly influences the yield and quality of grass and forage crops, as well as animal performance and profitability. Over the two episodes Liz will speak to three industry specialists in order to formulate an action plan to run a trial on Chris’s farm.
Chris is a sheep farmer from Lincolnshire and Liz has been working as Chris’s consultant for the past two years as part of the AHDB Strategic Farm programme. The dry weather and low moisture levels have limited grass growth this spring and soil tests have highlighted low phosphate (P) levels and low potassium (K).
Liz is also joined on the podcast by Elizabeth Stockdale from NIAB. Elizabeth collected soil samples from Chris’s farm in 2020 as part of the production of the soil health scorecard; a resource which assists farmers to perform a basic level of soil assessment on their farm. It looks at soil structure, earth worm count and also supports sending a sample of soil away for further analysis. This will determine pH level, phosphate (P), potassium (K) and magnesium (MG) as mentioned in the Faming Rules for Water guidelines.
Chris and Louise Elkington, Chestnut Farm https://ahdb.org.uk/farm-excellence/chestnut-farm
GREAT Soils https://ahdb.org.uk/GREATsoils
Soil structure https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/soil-structure
Soil health scorecard https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/testing-the-soil-health-scorecard
Soil assessment methods https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/greatsoils-soil-assessment-methods
Soil and forage testing companies https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/soil-and-forage-testing-companies
Farming rules for water: new guidance on manure applications https://ahdb.org.uk/news/farming-rules-for-water-new-guidance-on-manure-applications
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