Sustainable Soil Management events planned

Sward with machinery and water damage.
Sward with machinery and water damage.

The Sustainable Soil Management Events are the latest in a series of FFKS workshops for farmers, farm family members and employees being held on Tuesday 31 July at CAFRE, Greenmount Campus and on Thursday 2 August at CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus.

Extreme weather events in recent years have taken their toll on soil conditions across the province. Poaching, machinery damage, flooding, snow and drought have all impacted on sward quality.

At the Sustainable Soil Management events visitors will learn about the importance of soil structure and how to assess it.

Five main factors impact the health of the soil and influence grass/crop growth and how it functions from a drainage perspective. The five factors are:

q Soil structure

q Soil chemistry

q Organic matter content

q Soil biology

q Water infiltration, retention and movement through the profile

A healthy soil will have a good combination of all these factors, whilst an unhealthy soil will have a problem with at least one of these. Structural problems such as compaction, plough pans or water-logging will have a knock-on effect on all the other aspects of soil health.

A healthy soil has plenty of air spaces within it, maintaining aerobic conditions. When air is limited, anaerobic conditions dominate, leading to the proliferation of anaerobic microbes and denitrification (the loss of nitrogen from the system). These soils have a distinct odour or smell when handled.

There will also be talks on managing soils to avoid compaction through appropriate tyre selection and pressure settings. Improving soil fertility, particularly by making the best use of slurry through careful timing and methods of application will be addressed. The correct choice, timing and use of subsoilers will also be featured. Methods of reseeding and choice of seeds mixtures will also be discussed.

In addition to the main tour, there will also be a number of trade exhibits to visit and a panel of CAFRE advisers will be on hand to deal with specific queries. Refreshments will be available to purchase on the day.

Tours will last for approximately two hours and commence at 11am at each venue and continue every 20 minutes, with the last session starting at 6.30pm.

For further information contact CAFRE KT admin on telephone 028 9442 6790 or email kt.admin@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Farm Family Key Skills (FFKS) is a scheme under the Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) which is part of the Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020 and receives co-financing from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).