Dairy Event 2009: Weather means soil microbe shortage

Extreme weather this summer has had a severe effect on soil microbial activity, said Josephine Scamell, of Ground Level Nutrition, following this year’s Soil Surgery at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show.

“We have seen a polarisation in soil types brought to the stand this year with soils either being completely water-logged or completely dry.”

And as a result, a lot of soils have been microbe-sterile. “I have seen fewer earthworms than I have ever seen.”

Farmers need to focus on all issues that will help provide a good physical soil structure while maintaining microbes to enhance degradation of slurry and useable nutrients.

“The trouble is, soils low in organic matter and natural microbial activity will be less tolerant of extreme weather.”

“By increasing the organic matter content of the soil, there will be a higher ‘sponge’ factor, so when soils are wet they will be capable of absorbing water more readily and when dry, they will have the ability to combat extreme dehydration.”

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