The Elaine Ingham Challenge


DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
N Herts
It is a big ask. There were three classes of bacteria I think she said, that fix N in the soil. Rhizobium, azotobacter and the other one whose name escapes me. The trick is to have perfect conditions and they will work to order. It's hard work fixing N and they won't bother if there's plenty in the ground already
What did she say about removing residue? Presumably it needs to be left on the surface as food.

Honest john

Do you think these sources could match the annual off take of a 10t/ha crop? It seems a big ask to me.
No not yet.
There is progress being made.
Of course there is plenty of FREE N in the air above every acre.
After all that's how plants get there fix of N + that from the soil.

But 10tph off take from a crop ? No

Mrs Knockie

The way I've understood it for a while now, and I'm sure Elaine talked about this on Thursday, is that NO3 is not absorbed straight into plants roots, but needs to be 'eaten' by bacteria first. Plants excrete root exudates (cookies and cakes) to keep the soil biology fed and working for them, and I suppose you could look at this as the plant giving away some potential yield. But without doing this the plant will not get the nutrients it needs, so yield will be limited/zero anyway.

Happy to be corrected though!
I do the albrecht thing on fields going into carrots and also odd fields through the rest of the rotation, just to get a feel for things. I don't do the full albrecht on the carrots, still use MOP for example. But I put on the trace elements they reccomend and some of the other things and results seem to be ok. On a high value crop they don't add much cost and the trace elements are supposedly enough for 5 years. Did do the full albrecht one year on a small area and the cost of the nutrition programme went from 250 to £750/ha!

Its bonkers for combinable crops. Unless you have cash to waste. I think a good multispecies cover crop for two months in the primer growing season will do more than buying lots of high margin products.
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All good laymans intro's.

And this bloke has recorded a decent bit of soil biological interactions with no till over the years in his book. Wouldn't use much p, k and lime except to kickstart a system:

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Staff Member
Arable Farmer
What did she say about removing residue? Presumably it needs to be left on the surface as food.

leave it - OM is VERY important as its the food for the biology so if you want more abundant biology you need more food, add it with cover crops and (quality) compost - never have bare soil or stubble seemed to be her view or you starve the biology quickly

she quoted the great plains being 30% SOM when farming started and less than 1% today .......................pretty much what we are seeing happen to UK soils and a big reason for the yield plateau and all the other issues like BG etc we are seeing maybe ?

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