ADOPTING GOOD soil management practices can have benefits beyond meeting statutory cross-compliance regulations, according to a min-till enthusiast speaking on the Vaderstad stand at Smithfield.

More work is needed to assess the full physical and financial benefits from different soil practices, said ex-farmers weekly Farmer Focus writer, Jim Bullock.

Cover crops such as mustard and red clover can fix nitrogen, improve soil structure and enhance organic matter levels, he noted.

New work underway with The Arable Group is looking at the effects of growing mustard as a cover crop between first and second wheats to help combat take-all.

When mustard decays, it gives off a gas that could help control the disease, he said. Other studies are looking at growing white clover in the wheat crop, benefiting soil structure and possibly yield.

Good soil management – but not necessary minimum tillage – is central to the Soil Management Initiative, Mr Bullock added.

“SMI can help farmers get where they need to be by 2006/7,” he said.