With increasing interest in carbon, soil health and climate change, and the Government’s targets for the reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, we have started to look at this issue in greater depth. We have started to take soil samples to get an idea of the organic matter (carbon) levels in our soils.
The main reason for soil sampling is to get a baseline measurement and then look at ways to improve the levels of our organic matter. There are many ways to do this using manures, sludge, compost, etc. and by avoiding bare soils so the use of cover crops over winter, chopping the straw, having grass and livestock in the rotation, reducing synthetic inputs such as sprays and fertilisers.
Reduction in cultivations will also impact on the loss of carbon dioxide from soils. Nitrogen fertilisers are a major issue when it comes to the effects on emissions and greenhouse gases so careful targeting of such inputs will continue to be important. Improving the soils and increasing the organic matter will improve the soil structure, water holding capacity, water cleanliness and resilience to extremes in weather and also improve crop performance.