Soil Symposium

Agenda and presentations

Welcome address: Soils for resilience
This session aimed to highlight some of the Soil Association’s farming focussed activities in relation to soil, the importance of soils to the resilience of agriculture and focus on the fertility aspects of the recent nutritional research.

- Helen Browning, Soil Association - download presentation [pdf, 1.1mb]
- Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds - download presentation [pdf, 1.3mb]
- Professor Carlo Leifert, Newcastle University - download presentation [pdf, 1.5mb]

Know your soil
With this session, farmers and growers increased their understanding on how soil organic matter and soil biology affects crop yield as well as getting to grips with the true value of soil tests.

- Dr Elizabeth Stockdale, Newcastle University - download presentation [pdf, 676kb]
- Dr Miroslav Vosátka, Institute of Botany ASCR - download presentation [pdf, 2.1mb]
- Dr Ashley Martin, Microbiology Laboratories Australia - download presentation [pdf, 680kb]

Managing the extremes: symptoms and solutions
This session reviewed what happens to soils in the extreme of drought and flood as well as hearing about a new generation of grasses that could lock up more water and reduce the risk of flooding. We also aimed to create a practical management blueprint for control of common rush which can be applied to any farm, a key issue resulting from waterlogging and flooding of soils across the UK.

- Professor Mark Kibblewhite, Cranfield University - download presentation [pdf, 284kb]
- Dr Mike Humphreys, IBERS - download presentation [pdf, 1.5mb]
- Ian Cairns, Farmer - download presentation [pdf, 1.5mb]

Facing up to the phosphorous challenge
Researchers from a European project, Improve-P presented current knowledge about the phosphorous status of organic farming systems and highlight practical approaches to improving crop uptake of P, including varietal choice and the use of inoculants.We also requested feedback and facilitated discussion on the issue of using alternative P sources, including products from human wastes as fertilisers on organic farms. Participants were requested to complete a questionnaire expressing their views on some of these products.

- Dr Julia Cooper, Newcastle University
- Dr Anne Kristen-Loes, Bioforsk, Norway
- download Dr Julia Cooper and Dr Anne Kristen-Loes' presentation [pdf, 869kb]
- Dr. Dan Froehlich, Ostara - download presentation [pdf, 1.5mb]

Spotlight on green manures
This session highlighted some of the latest research on green manures incorporating the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme field lab trials. We heard from long-standing grower John McCormick about his experiences of using green manures to build fertility at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens as well as finding out more about the qualities and characteristics of some of the more novel varieties.

- Dr Robin Walker, SRUC - download presentation [pdf, 955kb]
- John McCormick, Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens
- Ben Raskin, Soil Association
- Ian Wilkinson, Cotswold Seeds - download presentation [pdf, 1.4mb]
- John Faulconbridge, Western Seeds

Spotlight on cultivation
This session reviewed the research and advantages of reduced tillage systems as well as an overview of recent research suggesting that the role of no-till agriculture in climate change mitigation may be over-stated. We also looked at practical solutions on adapting machinery and drills for cultivation purposes.

- Dr Julia Cooper, Newcastle University - download presentation [pdf, 1.6mb]
- Steve Townsend, Crop Systems - download presentation [pdf, 1.9mb]
- Professor David Powlson, Rothamsted Research - download presentation [pdf, 816kb]

Teaming with microbes: helping your farms hidden helpers
Our final presentation inspired and enthused producers on optimising plant nutrition at a cellular level from world renowned author – Jeff Lowenfels.

- Jeff Lowenfels, Author of Teaming with Microbes and Teaming with Nutrients - download presentation [pdf, 10.5mb]

- Helen Browning

Find out more

Supported by...

Duchy College European Agricultural Fund ADAS Defra RASE NRM Laboratories Garford Woodland Trust Edaphos Western Seeds Nafferton Ecological Farming Group Newcastle University Farm Consultancy Group Good Energy edge

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded (or financed) by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.