21 September 2001


Soil repair

There is no need to abandon ICM principles just because soils were damaged by machinery being used in very wet conditions last winter, advises Alastair Leake of the Allerton Trust in Leicestershire.

"There will have been some recovery over the year, especially where soils are well-structured. And on most farms the problem areas account for no more than 5% of the total."

Where remedial work is needed cultivations should be based on two main factors – weed infestations and waterlogging, he maintains.

"Where herbicides werent applied, or went on too late to be effective, there may be a need to plough. It makes a good contribution to blackgrass control.

"Similarly, areas that were puddled, will need either sub-soiling or ploughing. But they can be treated separately, and minimal tillage relied on for the rest."

His advice to stick with minimal tillage except where there are particular structure problems can be checked by digging holes to take a closer look. "Dig two holes, so you can compare suspected problem areas with those unaffected. Then the repair options will be clearer.

"Another consideration is the cultivation equipment used – make sure tyre pressures are correct and use the right travel speeds. And avoid numerous cultivations." especially on soils that are still wet," he concludes.

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