N. Ireland - Understand Soils Event - event write up & presentations

16 March 2011

The Soil Association hosted another successful 'Understanding Soils Event' for 42 Northern Irish producers and associates on Tuesday 8th March 2011.

It was fascinating day with numerous expert presentations and discussions on the association between soil biology and the availability and release of nutrients to feed crops and livestock to their optimum level.

On the basis that the more widely we can share this information, the more people will benefit, the Soil Association is delighted to make key presentations and information from the event available to all.

Dr Elizabeth Stockdale – Newcastle University (Email : e.a.stockdale@ncl.ac.uk)
View PowerPoint presentation 1: Get to grips with your soils
View PowerPoint presentation 2: Understanding nutrients at farm and rotation scale

Elizabeth Stockdale is over-excited about soils and is currently a lecturer in the School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University. She has been involved in a wide range of research projects connected with the study of nutrient cycling in soils and with the environmental impact of farming systems. She also maintains a strong link to organic farming and has carried out research into nutrient cycling (N, P, K) in organic farming systems.

Dr Vinodh Krishnamurphy – Laverstoke Park Laboratories (Email : lab@laverstokepark.co.uk)

View PowerPoint presentation: Soil tests and what they tell us

Dr Vinodh Krishnamurthy, microbiologist, managing the Soil Foodweb Inc., laboratory services at Laverstoke Park. Vinodh has always been fascinated with “bugs” and this interest made him to pursue his career in microbiology. His research work primarily focused on epidemiology of fungal plant pathogens and biological control of plant diseases. He was awarded PhD from Aberdeen University for his work in developing a soil test to detect fungal pathogen that can cause devastatation to soft fruits such as strawberries. While working as Research Fellow at Nottingham University, he investigated how to control plant diseases within nurseries. The progress achieved in this project has contributed valuable knowledge to growers in their crop management and protection. Vinodh is keen to take science from the lab bench to the field and have been working with farmers and growers promoting organic amendments such as using compost and compost teas and enabling them to achieve sustainable farming.

Martin Lane – Field Science (Email : fieldscience@aol.com)

Download 1: Beef Guide
Download 2: Sheep Guide

Despite having first pursued a flying career in the RAF, I have always had a deep interest in agriculture.

After leaving the Service, my interest in farming focused on the exponential growth of the mineral supplement industry and the reasons for its existence - ie, without supplementary minerals many livestock animals failed to thrive, or even survive. Working with an established expert in the livestock industry convinced me that these minerals were vital not just to livestock, but also to the soil and everything in it. Two years after I started, Field Science Ltd. was formed with me and a food industry expert (my brother-in-law) as directors.

We started with the emphasis on livestock health and welfare, knowing that tailored soil remineralisation based on soil analysis (as opposed to the “chuck-it-on-and-hope-it’ll-work” system) had profound benefits for both grass and livestock. From that starting point we have progressed to optimally mineralising forage crops, cereals, fruit and vegetables and even Premier League football pitches and golf courses.

For the last 4 years we have conducted extensive research with M&S who were aware of the poor nutritional quality of much of the food consumed in the UK. This collaboration is spawning a range of “Superfoods” with a guaranteed mineral provenance, which have been very well received by customers. Our system provides UK producers with a Unique Selling Point and can be used in either organic or conventional systems. Further benefits include improved yields and reductions in the incidence of disease.

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