The announcement of a new Agri-Tech East Special Interest Group focussed on soils has been widely welcomed.
Tina Barsby, CEO of NIAB, says: “2015 is the International Year of Soil, which aims to raise awareness worldwide that soil is a non-renewable resource and its preservation is essential for food security and a sustainable future. It’s the perfect time to explore soil fertility, translating science from the bench into the field; the new Soil Health SIG is a great way to make this happen.”
The first meeting is to be held on the 8th September and the Chairs for the SIG include Prof. John Crawford, Associate Director of Research at Rothamsted Research, David Felce of Agrii, and Dr Tony Miller from the metabolic biology department at the John Innes Centre.
Tony will be giving a talk on what is healthy soil and how to make more efficient use of applied fertiliser.
John will be discussing research at Rothamsted which shows the scientific basis for the benefits of leaving crop residues in the field after harvesting. The organic matter feeds the microbes that otherwise would die over the winter, thus helping to maintain soil structure. These soils are more resistant to erosion, have better drainage and crops planted in spring will have access to nutrients already present in the soil.
John explains: “Our end goal is to find better ways of enhancing the productivity, efficiency and resilience of soil. This could be through new regimes of soil nutrition that feed the plant and the soil, changes in tillage practice, or the identification of novel plant traits that improve soil. As our research progresses, hopefully these answers will become clear.”
Robert Salmon, a farmer from NE Salmon Limited, is looking forward to the breakout sessions, he says: “As growers we need to extract the most out of our soil. Meetings like the Soil Health SIG are incredibly important as it links scientific knowledge to decision-makers in the field. Without proper dissemination and interpretation of the results, the value of the research will be lost and the reports will gather dust on a library shelf.”
The Agri-Tech East Soil Health SIG is to be held at NIAB, Villa Road, Histon, CB24 9NZ from 13.30 on 8th September.