Come and celebrate the 2015 International Year of Soils, at the 7th annual Soil Symposium.

This year our theme is “The Top 6 Inches – Practical ways to build great soil”.

This practical event will tackle soil health challenges and find solutions that will support your farming business.

Registration (9.30 - 10.30)

Welcome and Introduction (10.30 - 11.15)

Helen Browning (Soil Association), Peter Melchett (Soil Association)

Technical Session 1a:  The Nitrogen cycle – Beyond the basics (11.30 - 12.30)

Deepen your understanding of nitrogen and its complex nature to improve soil health and your bottom line
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for crop growth and a major nutrient you can control. The behaviour of nitrogen is complex, yet understanding how it works is essential to making your farm more efficient.

Speakers include: Dr Elizabeth Stockdale (Newcastle University), Caroline Corsie (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust)

Technical Session 1b: Taking stock: Introducing livestock onto your farm (11.30 - 12.30)

Debating the key areas for consideration when introducing livestock onto an arable farm

Fertility is a key issue for stockless farms. Many farms are bringing livestock back onto farms to improve fertility, yields and soil health. You will hear the experiences from both the perspective of an arable farmer and a shepherd – what lessons were learnt and key areas for consideration.

Speakers include: Jon Perkin (Farmer at Dartington Trust), Pete Douglas (Farmer in Wiltshire) 

Technical Session 2a: Diverse leys and livestock performance (13.30 - 14.30)

Discussion will focus on livestock performance from grazing diverse leys and fed diverse ley silage, as well as how animals select particular species of plants for health.

Dafydd Jones runs a 190 hectare organic beef and sheep farm in Mid-Wales and currently holds the title of UK Grassland Manager 2014. In the last few years, Dafydd has participated in several initiatives to improve his forage production.

One initiative has been re-seeding pasture using a multi-species ley. He has collected information over the last 3 years on silage quality.  We will hear more about what impact this has had on animal performanc as well as silage nutritional quality.

Speakers include: Tim Bevan (Soil Association), Dafydd Jones (Maesllwyni Farm), Dr Eric Morgan (University of Bristol)

Technical Session 2b: Biopesticides and soil health (13.30 -14.30)

Discussion of the possible benefits and implications of using biopesticides?

Although current regulatory barriers prevent wider uptake, we will explore the recent advances with this technology, investigate what the possibilities are for producers to using them, while questioning the wider human and environmental implications.

Speakers include: Professor Tariq Butt (Swansea University), Louise Labuschagne (Real IPM)

Technical Session 3a and 3b: Innovative Farmers: Field lab case studies (15.30 - 16.30)

Much of the $16 billion that developed countries spend on agricultural research and development is by the industries selling farmers inputs, commonly relying on non-renewable resources. The Duchy Future Farming Programme launched 3 years ago to address this by supporting sustainable innovation by farmers. Highlighting practical benefits already achieved through the farmer field lab approach with a focus on both a horticulture and livestock example - Woodchip Compost and Small scale anaerobic digestion, we will also showcase our exciting new programme for ‘Innovative farmers.

Speakers include: Iain Tolhurst (Tolhurst Organics), Anja Vieweger (Organic Research Centre), David Findlay (Cream O' Galloway), Audrey Litterick (ADHB)

Closing Plenary (16.45 -17.45)

Although ‘point source pollution’ was once the main culprit for river pollution, the main cause  is now diffuse rural pollution, from agriculture, which is the second highest cause of pollution in our rivers - 45 grams per litre of water is soil run off!

Keynote speaker: Mark Lloyd

Evening Celebration - Down and dirty: a celebration of soil 

As a celebration of International Year of Soils and Bristol European Green Capital 2015, we are inviting a wider audience of organic enthusiasts to the evening event, which will follow on seamlessly from our Soil Symposium.  The evening will bring together groups from various backgrounds including our farmers and growers, food manufacturers, retailers, Soil Association members and the general public. With an organic feast showcasing our licensees’ fantastic food and drink products, followed by music and dancing, this event will provide the perfect opportunity for our guests to meet old friends and make new ones, in a setting that celebrates our soil. 

17.45 - Drinks reception and activities
19.30 - Evening meal
21.00 - Entertainment