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Soil is Key – South East Farmer – James Short

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James Short croppedJames Short, of crop production specialists Hutchinsons, says that growers need to look at their soil as it is the key to unlocking yields.

“It is important that we protect and nurture the soil if we are to continue producing crops in a sustainable and long-term arable rotation.”  He advises growers to take up Hutchinsons Healthy Soils service and explains why.  “This service provides information to growers and advisors to actively manage their soils and optimise performance and farm profitability.”

“Soils are assessed by 3 key components – physical (texture, compaction, bulk density, water infiltration), biological (organic matter, soil life, carbon content) and chemical (minerals, nutrients and nutrient availability), during October through to April,” explains James. “Growers need to be aware of previous cropping and cultivations. We can provide a VESS (Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure) which looks at soil profile as well as an infiltration test, looking at how water moves through the soil. Based on this information, Hutchinsons Omnia software can then analyse local field data and information provided to give a theoretical potential yield. A bespoke report, Your Healthy Soils Audit, is then provided on a Field by Field basis. This can be compared with actual yields and as an agronomist I will help growers address the variance between theory and practice and look at the critical limiting factors going forward. Hutchinson agronomists can help growers on how to modify their farm practices to increase organic matter, to increase flora and fauna (particularly earthworms) and to increase moisture holding ability of their soils.”

James says that a healthy soil is much more resilient to difficult weather conditions such as drier summers or wet winters and can allow a successful transition to reduced cultivation practices. “With the Soil audit findings, we can put action plans in place to remedy any issues identified. It is not just about taking a standard soil sample analysis anymore,” says James and we need to take a much more holistic approach to soil management. Hutchinsons is dedicating considerable resources to the healthy soils initiative and now has 23 of its agronomy team trained to deliver the assessment programme.

Contact James on 07721 567083 or via email, or call the Canterbury depot on 01227 830064