Soil Symposium


08.30am Conference registration, exhibition and refreshments
09.30am Welcome address: Soils for resilience
This session aims 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
- Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds
- Professor Carlo Leifert, Newcastle University
10.30am Know your soil
With this session, farmers and growers will increase 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
- Dr Miroslav Vosátka, Institute of Botany ASCR
- Dr Ashley Martin, Microbiology Laboratories Australia
12.00pm Lunch, exhibition and networking

Managing the extremes: symptoms and solutions
This session will review 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 aim 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
- Dr Mike Humphreys, IBERS
- Ian Cairns, Farmer 
1.30pm Facing up to the phosphorous challenge
Researchers from a European project, Improve-P will present 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 will also request feedback and facilitate discussion on the issue of using alternative P sources, including products from human wastes as fertilisers on organic farms. Participants will be requested to complete a questionnaire expressing their views on some of these products.

- Dr Julia Cooper, Newcastle University
- Dr Anne Kristen-Loes, Bioforsk, Norway
- Dr. Dan Froehlich, Ostara
2.45pm Refreshments, exhibition and networking
3.15pm Spotlight on green manures
This session will highlight some of the latest research on green manures incorporating the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme field lab trials. We will hear 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
- John McCormick, Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens
- Ben Raskin, Soil Association
- Ian Wilkinson, Cotswold Seeds
- John Faulconbridge, Western Seeds

Spotlight on cultivation
This session will review 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 will also look at practical solutions on adapting machinery and drills for cultivation purposes.

- Dr Julia Cooper, Newcastle University
- Steve Townsend, Crop Systems
- Professor David Powlson, Rothamsted Research

4.45pm Teaming with microbes: helping your farms hidden helpers
Our final presentation will inspire and enthuse producers on optimizing plant nutrition at a cellular level from world renowned author – Jeff Lowenfels.

- Jeff Lowenfels, Author of Teaming with Microbes and Teaming with Nutrients
5.15pm Close
- Helen Browning
5.30pm A number of optional workshops and activities will take place
7.30pm Evening meal and entertainment
11.30pm Close

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.