A four-year AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds research project has unearthed invaluable results for growers, into the benefits of adopting sustainable soil management practices.
One element of the Soil Programme - which involved an overall investment of £2.6 million - investigated how different types and quantities of organic matter in the soil can increase crop yields.
Early findings have shown that improvements to soil structure and an increase of nutrients can be achieved through the application of various organic materials, after just two years.
Farm yard manure (FYM), compost, anaerobic digestate and previous crop residues were all tested, and were shown to have positive impacts on the soil, and in turn, crop yields.
Increasing soil organic matter also improved soil structure, with results indicating that water infiltration had improved and that less force was required in order to turn the ground during cultivation.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to improving soil quality as every situation is different. Variances in soil microbiology, seasonality and timing are all issues to contend with, and understanding what needs to be applied and when, will vary greatly on-farm.
However, with the research now complete, a final year report focusing on the economics of applying organic materials, is due imminently. Therefore, growers with a continued interest in the practical and financial implications of this important industry research should watch this space.