Amendments for soil health – getting to the root of the problem

Getting To The Root Of The Problem

November saw the first meeting of a new Innovative Farmers field lab on soil health for top fruit being run as part of the AHDB GREAT soils programme.

Top fruit soil challenge

Managing soil health and fertility in perennial crops is not always easy. Without opportunities for cultivation and reseeding, opportunities for cover crops are limited. Regular cultivation or herbicide applications that are often used for controlling weeds can also damage soil health.

A group of fruit growers have got together to look at amendments that can be added, either at or post planting, to the soil that may improve soil health and therefore the performance of their trees. We held our first meeting at C E Murch growers hosted by Charles Atkins

Woodchip, compost, biochar and mycorrhizae

From the wide range of available materials and products the growers have decided to focus the field lab on the following, though not all growers are trialling all amendments

  • Woodchip – composted or ramial woodchip uncomposted
  • Enriched biochar (with worm casts, seaweed and mycorrhizae)
  • Mycorrhizae on its own
  • Greenwaste compost

Next steps

We are in the process of finalising the protocols for the trial and welcome more growers into the field lab so even if you couldn’t make the first meeting then please do get in touch, or look out for our next meeting in early spring 2017 at a venue to be confirmed.

More about Innovative Farmers.

Growing Resilient Efficient and Thriving GREATsoils is being delivered in partnership by the Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Earthcare Technical Ltd. The project is part of the GREATsoils programme funded by AHDB.