Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to assess soil health and improve it to raise crop yields. Find out when to test your soil and how to interpret the test results. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, adding organic matter, improving drainage and growing cover crops.

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Practical advice

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How deep cultivations can repair heavy land after a wet winter

Heavy land arable farmers could benefit from subsoiling or mole ploughing after harvest in order to get soils back into shape, ready for autumn cropping, after a wet and damaging…


4 reasons why blackgrass strategies are failing to deliver

Reducing the weed seed bank is a key objective when tackling blackgrass, and early results from a project looking at seed numbers suggest four reasons why farmers aren’t seeing the…


How to use active fallows to repair soils on undrilled land

Growers with land left undrilled this year should consider the use of active fallow to improve soil condition and prepare the ground for next autumn’s drillings. In an active fallow,…


How to sort out grassland compaction

The UK saw another very wet season this winter resulting in waterlogged fields and the risk of the long-term damage to soils. The rain has had a massive impact on…


How to manage fallow land hit by wet winter weather

Many growers will be forced to leave land fallow this season and, although that means no income, there are big benefits from higher crop yields in the future and herbicide…


Why growers should sign up for greening ahead of new scheme

Arable farmers are being urged to sign up for environmental subsidy schemes, such as growing cover crops and wildflower mixes, to prepare for a post-Brexit farm support package. These schemes…

Case studies

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Monitor Farms: Soil and brome success, carbon next priority

Cleveland farmer John Aynsley has seen soil health improve by successfully adopting direct drilling as part of his three-year stint as an AHDB Monitor Farm in the North East. He…


How grower uses a carbon calculator to track no-till success

Carbon accounting is one of the measures Overbury Farms is using to gauge the success of the major agronomic changes it has made over the past decade. The move to…


Tips on making arable soils more resilient to extreme weather

Growers are increasingly looking to improve the resilience of their soils to weather extremes, as unpredictable seasons become more frequent because of climate change. This increasingly variable weather is set…


AHDB strategic farm puts regenerative farming into practice

Building a more resilient production system is the main aim of Balbirnie Home Farms in Fife, as the mixed farming business prepares to become the AHDB’s Strategic Cereal Farm in…


Organic arable farm goes carbon negative for Brexit future

Rising soil organic matter levels are soaking up greenhouse gases, giving one Cambridgeshire organic farm a negative carbon balance and preparing it for a no-subsidy Brexit future. Less ploughing and…


Lincs grower uses latest tech to improve difficult soils

Henry Hickling returned to his family’s Lincolnshire farm eager to stay up to date with all the latest technology to help improve soil health and the environment and so he…


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How farmers can take part in the Big Soil Community project

A co-ordinated effort to sample and analyse the biodiversity of farm soils is now in its second year, with further sampling scheduled to re-start this autumn. Known as the Big…


Fermenting organic matter better for soil than composting

Fermenting organic matter in a similar way to ensiling grass, rather than composting waste, can lead to greater improvements in soil health while at the same time helping farmers to…


6 key findings from the AHDB's latest cover crop research

Cover crops are firmly entrenched as a core component of regenerative agriculture, but many growers are finding it difficult to know how to fit them into their rotation or, even…


Tips on getting soils and rotations back on track

After one of the wettest winters on record, it could be assumed that UK arable soils will be in desperate need of first aid before the next cropping season begins.…


How farmer groups can work together to get most from ELM

Farm adviser, Alison Cross, believes that farmers should act together in groups to get the best out of Britain’s future farming policy and so have a wide impact on the…


Is regenerative agriculture the future of arable farming?

A growing number of farmers are overhauling their systems and are now farming in a way that has little impact on soil health, includes greater diversity and leads to more…

Latest soils news

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Poll: How would you rate your soil health?

More than one-third or arable growers could be affected by degraded soils, according to a new survey. Scientists at Rothamsted Research have developed a “soil health” measure that shows 38%…


Scientists discover how manure improves soils

Scientists have solved the mystery of why adding organic material like manure to soils improves flood and drought resilience, climate control and crop yields. Founded on more than 50 years’…


Soil erosion poses risk to food security, study warns

Soil erosion on UK farms will contribute to a decline in crop yields if left unchecked, according to new research. Scientists at the University of Exeter studied more than 1,500…


Adas trials show lowest-ever soil nitrogen levels

Following months of wet weather and widespread flooding on farms, Adas is advising growers to focus on sampling for soil nitrogen supply (SNS). Pete Berry, Adas head of crop physiology,…


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Video: High-pressure water tech aids direct drilling success

Replacing drill coulters with a high-pressure jet to open up the soil will not only improve germination, its inventors believe it can aid rooting by cracking compaction and aerating soils.…


Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…