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New service aims to restore farm soils to peak condition

02/08/2019

Agrovista has launched a comprehensive soil health offer to help growers optimise the productivity and sustainability of their soils, simply named Agrovista Soil Health.


Agrovista technical manager Chris Martin says soils face unprecedented pressure due to climate change and population growth, as well as competitive commodity markets and politics.

“The characteristics of many farmed soils have altered because of changing farm systems,” he adds. “Increasingly heavy machinery can reduce soil porosity and water absorption as well as organic matter levels, adversely affecting the productivity and resilience of soils.

“Understanding the relationship between the physical structure, biology and chemical processes within the soil, and the farming practices that affect them, is key to creating and maintaining healthy soils that are essential for crop and livestock production and the long-term sustainability of farming and the environment.”

Agrovista Soil Health uses a wide-ranging suite of measurements backed by expert interpretation and advice. The first step is to assess fields for texture. This can be overlaid with biomass and yield maps to highlight problem areas for analysis.

“Agrovista Soil Health is a completely new way of operating,” says Mr Martin. “The analysis gives us a picture of what’s happening in the soil physically, chemically and biologically before we put a spade near it.”

Key areas include optimising pH, ensuring correct nutrient balances and enhancing soil biology. Understanding soil textures and capabilities is also vital to maintain structure, maximise water use efficiency and optimise porosity with the minimum of cultivations. 

This analysis is backed up with ground truthing, using a further suite of tests to measure the soil’s physical make up, which affects root penetration, water availability and aeration.

“We then interpret all this information to provide simple but effective practical solutions to help growers manage their soils better,” says Mr Martin. 

“We need to achieve good levels of organic matter, typically 5% for a mineral soil. This helps biology thrive, including bacteria that help provide a natural pH balance.

“This increases the number of earthworms, helping to build fertility and regenerate soils.

“The end result is a self-structuring, porous soil that is resilient and perfect for growing crops.” 
 

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